The Anne Frank tree will be removed today. In her diary, Anne made occasional references to the large chestnut tree, which she could see from the back window of her hiding place and which became a symbol for her of the natural world and the changing seasons.
The tree had been the centre of a battle through the world media and the Dutch courts to save it, since arborists warned that it was rotten to the core and on its way out. Funds were subscribed from around the world. But a storm on Monday blew it over, fortunately with no damage to life (though some to limb of course).
Its removal is unlikely to affect interest in what is perhaps Amsterdam’s most visited tourist attraction. At almost any time of day the queue stretches around the corner. The house is in fact the Frank family’s former jam factory, and since when the family was betrayed and arrested all furniture was removed, there is little remaining there in the way of Anne Frank artifacts. But most moving I find the wallpaper in Anne’s bedroom, now preserved behind perspex, on which she’d posted photos of movie stars clipped from magazines, just as any teenage girl might do.The rest of the now extended building has very much the feel of a museum rather than a house, but the displays and videos tell a powerful story of courage and survival in the face of terrible fear and oppression. It is very well done, and recommended if you have time to wait in line.
Bits of bark and wood from the tree are now for sale on marktplaats.nl, an online website which is a Dutch rival to ebay. Oh dear – the age we live in!
STOP PRESS: The owners of the tree are planning to donate pieces to Jewish musea in New York, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Amsterdam.