The chestnut tree that comforted Anne Frank while she hid from the Nazis during the Second World War will be cut down next week because it is too diseased to be saved.
The 150-year-old tree has fungus and moths that have caused more than half its trunk to rot.
The tree is familiar to millions of readers of The Diary of Anne Frank, she made several references to it in the diary that she kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until the family was arrested in August 1944.
Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945. She was 15.
“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs,” she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944.
“From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind...
“As long as this exists, ... and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies – while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”
In March, the city council granted a license to have the tree cut down. That prompted protests by the Netherlands’ Tree Institute and others who argued the tree had such an important historical value that extraordinary measures should be taken to preserve it.
It was granted a reprieve in October while the Utrecht-based Tree Institute investigated ways to save it, but the City of Amsterdam said today that those ideas were unworkable and it will be felled a week tomorrow.
“From the latest assessment, it appears that only 28 percent of the trunk is still healthy,” the statement said. “The risk of the trunk breaking – in which case the 27-ton tree will fall over – is now unacceptably high.”
“Given these results, which preclude the tree’s being cured, preventative cutting of the tree is the only remaining realistic option.”
The Anne Frank Museum, where the tiny apartment has been preserved, said grafts have already been taken and a sapling from the original chestnut will eventually replace it.