by Bonnie Alter, London
The chestnut tree outside Anne Frank's attic window was a source of hope and comfort to her whilst in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. She often mentioned it in her poignant diaries: "The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew...and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn't speak."
The 152 year old tree has been dying slowly for a few years and had been propped up by a supporting structure. Until Monday, when it finally collapsed in high winds and broke "like a match." It was a symbol of hope for Anne Frank and of continuing life for all mankind.
The tree had been afflicted with fungus and moths. However it had been expected to live another decade or so. It is not clear why the support structure which encased it did not work. No buildings around the densely packed urban area were harmed.
Its demise has long been expected. Six genetically identical specimens, grown from grafts from the original, have been nurtured in northern Holland and are already 7 feet high, in anticipation of the original being taken down at some point. Canada will get its own which will be planted outside the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. A Holocaust survivor got a seed pod from the tree and donated it.
Saplings have already been planted in Europe and the USA. Amsterday planted 150 in a park. As a nauseating aside, bits of the tree are already being sold on Dutch websites.
The tree was dear to Frank's heart. In her diary, in February, 1944, she wrote "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. As long as this exists, ... and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies - while this lasts I cannot be unhappy."... read more story at TreeHugger.com