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Most people know the name of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who hid in a secret upper story apartment in Amsterdam during the German occupation until they were discovered in August, 1944.  The family was transported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Anne died seven months after her arrest, a victim of typhus.  All of her family died, except for her father, Otto, who returned to Amsterdam after the war and discovered her diary there.

The diary, which was given to Anne Frank on her thirteenth birthday, chronicles her life from June 12, 1942 until August 1, 1944. It was eventually translated from its original Dutch into many languages and became one of the world's most widely read books. There have also been several film, television, and theatrical productions, and even an opera, based on the diary. Described as the work of a mature and insightful mind, it provides an intimate examination of daily life under Nazi occupation and in hiding; through her writing, Anne Frank has become one of the most renowned and discussed of Holocaust victims.

One of the most moving entries in her diary is dated February 23, 1944:

"I go to the attic almost every morning to get the stale air out of my lungs." From her favorite spot on the floor, Anne and Peter "looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn't speak."

In 1968 Otto Frank described his thoughts upon reading those words:

   "How could I have suspected that it meant so much to Anne to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the gulls during their flight and how important the chestnut tree was to her, as I recall that she never took an interest in nature. But she longed for it during that time when she felt like a caged bird. She only found consolation in thinking about nature. But she had kept such feelings completely to herself."

The building in which Anne Frank and her family hid for two years is now a museum, visited yearly by thousands of tourists.  The tree, however, is dying.

The Anne Frank Tree was a white horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) which was prominently featured in Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. The massive tree was one of the few pieces of nature visible to the young girl from The Annexe, the small building where she and her family hid from the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands.

Concerns about the tree's health date back to at least 1993, when a soil analysis revealed that leakage from a nearby underground domestic fuel tank was endangering the tree's root system. The city of Amsterdam spent €160,000 on a soil sanitation program to save the tree. For the last several years the tree has been attacked by a particularly aggressive fungus (Ganoderma applanatum, or "Artist's Conk") which is rotting the wood and undermining the tree's stability. Additionally, horse-chestnut leaf miner moths have taken to eating away at the tree's leaves, causing them to prematurely turn brown and fall off.

On May 26, 2005, the tree's crown was drastically trimmed after a six-month study by botanists concluded that this was the best way to ensure the tree's stability. However, the disease continued to thrive and a 2006 study estimated that 42% of the wood had become rotten. Botanists concluded that the tree's death was unavoidable and owners of the property decided to cut the tree down in order to eliminate the risk of the huge tree collapsing.

Cuttings have been taken from healthy portions of the tree, grafted to other stock, and will be replanted after the removal.  In the meantime, there is another,  virtual memorial in the online Anne Frank Tree.  It’s one of the more useful interactive webpages I’ve ever seen.   People have taken the opportunity to leave their own thoughts on the goodness of mankind and the meaning of abstract words like love, brotherhood, courage, happiness, liberty and giving.  There are 207 Anne Frank schools in 12 countries.  No one truly dies while they are remembered, and this simple girl’s courage and love of life is a memorial to what is good in mankind.

Strangely enough, I learned of this while watching an english language television program produced by a Communist Chinese TV channel.  It may be that not all globalization is evil.

Originally posted to TheREALLurch on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 12:54 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That's about a 5 minute walk from where I live. (7+ / 0-)

    Maybe I'll go take a photo before it's taken down.


    One of the great things about dailyKos diaries books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures. --George W. Bush, Jan. 3, 2000

    by Page van der Linden on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 12:59:52 PM PST

    •  totally unrelated (0+ / 0-)

      sorry to hijack, but how do you like living in Amsterdam? Was it difficult to move there? Was it difficult to find work? I'm looking into places to move in the EU and it's up there towards the top of my list.

      "The power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge" -Foucault

      by Jett on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 01:19:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  living here (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jett, kfred, annefrank, keechi
        1. Yes, it was difficult to move here, not just the procedure, but the expense.  Be prepared to spend upwards of $9,000 to move your stuff even if you only move enough to fill an average apartment.
        1. You cannot work until you get a residence permit.  It took 6 months from the time I applied for the permit to the time I got it, and another month before I got the equivalent of a Social Security number.  Without those, you can't find a job.  Also, you are required by the immigration ministry to learn Dutch.  This involves taking an intensive Dutch course (four days a week, four hours per class) for a year.  If you happen to get work before the class starts, you go part-time (or if you have kids), but otherwise, you are required to go full-time.
        1. Forgot to add that applying for the residence permit costs about €800.
        1. If you aren't married to - or connected in some way to - a native, you're really out of luck.  None of the immigration paperwork is in your native language, I can guarantee that.  And that's the least of the problems, because you basically don't exist until you get the residence permit.  So hook up with a Dutchman or woman, and that'll make things somewhat easier, but not much.
        1. Did I say "expensive"?  Amsterdam is quite expensive, even in the "cheaper" parts of the city.

        I'm kind of happy here.  I am happy with my husband, and I love our place (and the part of town, we're in the center), but I miss the hell out of my old home in the US (New Mexico).  There's a big difference between the US government and the country itself.

        I'm in a big dip right now.  It has been a very bad year, and the weather is awful on top of it all.

        Immigrating isn't as awesome as everyone thinks it is.  People in the US seem to have formed their view about Europe based on a couple of weeks' vacation.  That's hardly realistic.

        At least everyone here is fluent in English, more or less, which helps in some ways (but makes it harder to learn Dutch in other ways, once you're ready to learn it, if that makes sense).


        One of the great things about dailyKos diaries books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures. --George W. Bush, Jan. 3, 2000

        by Page van der Linden on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 01:29:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Damn, wish you hadn't said that! (0+ / 0-)

          I'll be moving soon from NJ to a house I bought in southern Spain last year. I'm excited but also dreading the end of the honeymoon period and realizing I'm just living in another place with its own quirks, problems, prejudices, bureaucracies, stupidities. Maybe we should start an online support group for kos expats. I don't know how to do this, do you, if you think it's a good idea? Best of luck on your life in Amsterdam. I spent a month there in 1991 and had a mostly great time (but as you said, living somewhere is different from visiting).

    •  Photos (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plutonium Page, kathika, annefrank, keechi

      By all means, I think you should, and publish them for others to see.

      If you like what I say, visit me at http://www.mainandcentral.org. If you don't like it, by all means drop by.

      by TheREALLurch on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 01:19:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  how sad (6+ / 0-)

    my wife and i will be in amsterdam this weekend. i saw the tree two years ago and it really was magnificent. i am glad they are taking cuttings to try to propogate the tree. i would love to plant one of those. thanks for passing this info along.

  •  Anne Frank (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keechi

    Being forced to read the Diary of Anne Frank in school was the one thing that finally made a close relative of mine aware of life beyond consumerism and pop culture.  

    "The power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge" -Foucault

    by Jett on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 01:21:36 PM PST

    •  Opening Eyes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jett, kathika, keechi

      Well, that was probably some of the best of your relative's education.

      If you like what I say, visit me at http://www.mainandcentral.org. If you don't like it, by all means drop by.

      by TheREALLurch on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 01:27:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You might want to help (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jett, Nulwee, keechi

      the process along by taking your relative to really fine foreign films, if you have an independent theatre near you. Otherwise, they can be rented. That's what I did with my son, then he studied for a semester in India. It's so important for Americans to realize there's a world out there that is different from ours in many ways. And they can also realize that people everywhere are basically the same. (sorry for getting off topic!)

      "This is not an election anymore, it's an intervention." - Andrew Sullivan, 11/1/06

      by kathika on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 01:37:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been to the Museum in Amsterdam (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keechi

    and it was almost as awesome as the entire city itself ;)

    If the Republicans promise to stop telling lies about us, maybe we'll stop telling the truth about them..

    by Romaniac on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 02:10:12 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee

    The tree sorrowfully, even with all the attention paid by others, was bound to meet it's end - and so it is with America's involvement in Iraq. No one really wants to see what's happening now - but no one knows how to stop the floundering either. It moves the imagination, thinking of Anne peering into the atmosphere where this tree reached and branched. They say Winston Churchill drew the boundaries lines of Iraq in Egypt, in 1921 - without having ever stepped upon that soil. It may come to return to more ancient borders defined by the majority people living in their respective regions of that geography. Somewhere, in these times, a new tree is beginning its life, and will grow through, and stand by, as human atrocities continue in its midst. May its life be an inspiration to those living souls it meets...

    Consider; is it better to plot a strategy and wait, or set a course, and run? - BMM

    by keechi on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 05:53:03 PM PST

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