This afternoon, a living memorial to one of the more famous victims of the Holocaust was planted on Boston Common. Anne Frank, author of The Diary of a Young Girl, which chronicles her time in hiding from the Nazis, mentioned a horse chestnut tree that grew just outside the window of the Secret Annex where she was hiding.
“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs. From my favorite 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…”
“The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity. As long as this exists, and that should be forever, I know there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances. I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.”
The tree, weakened by disease, fell during a windstorm in August of 2010. Aware that the tree did not have long to live, The Anne Frank House had collected seeds from the tree and shipped seedlings to organizations such as the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and The Anne Frank Center USA. The Anne Frank Center distributed the saplings it received to eleven locations throughout the United States.
Aliyah Finkel, a 15-year-old girl from Brookline, can take credit for bringing one of the saplings to Boston. She was so taken with Anne Frank’s story that she had her bat mitzvah in the same synagogue that Frank’s family attended in Amsterdam. Finkel encouraged Mayor Menino’s office to file an application to receive a sapling. She said she “thought it’d be beautiful if this symbol of hope could be brought here for everyone to see.”
Aliyah spoke of the marathon bombings and Frank’s resolve:
“Anne’s tree was a symbol of hope for her during a very dark time when hatred and intolerance swept across Europe. Sadly, every one of us in Boston is still reeling from the stinging effect of extreme hatred unleashed seven weeks ago just a few blocks from here. My hope is that, as we move forward, this tree will serve to remind generations of Bostonians and visitors to Boston Common of Anne Frank’s resolve to find hope and goodness in the face of unspeakable terror.”
The tree was planted between the Parkman Bandstand and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. A nearby plaque says:
“THE ANNE FRANK PROJECT
Tolerance, strength and hope
‘Deeds of loving kindness'”
The Sapling Project has received funding from the Netherlands. The Deputy Head of Mission at the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, Yvette Daoud, spoke of the importance of the tree:
“Our shared history, values, and vision for the future will be further strengthened by the symbolic meaning of Anne Frank’s sapling growing in Boston, an inspiration of hope and remembrance, and a call to action in the global fight against intolerance, hatred, and discrimination of all forms. After all, a tree is a symbol of life. And in Africa, it’s even a symbol of peace, cooperation, and equality.”
- Boston Globe: Sapling from Anne Frank tree to be planted in Boston Common, May 25, 2013.
- CNN: Anne Frank’s tree, now dying, still inspires hope and new life, April 30, 2010.
- The Sapling Project