As Anne wrote about her own hopes and dreamed of a better future, she often looked out upon a large horse chestnut tree in the garden behind the Secret Annex. For her, the tree symbolized freedom as well as nature, which she longed to enjoy once again.Sadly, the aging chestnut tree behind the Secret Annex collapsed from disease in 2010. However, in the few years before the tree’s demise, the stewards at the Anne Frank House wisely created saplings that have since been distributed to numerous locations around the world.
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect received 11 of the saplings to donate to worthy educational organizations across the US.As Americans, we sometimes think of the horrors of the Holocaust as events that only happen in far off places and not on our own shores. But the United States has its own questions on human rights, as evidenced by treatment of Native Americans, slavery and segregation and by the ongoing struggle for full civil rights for women and people of color. These chapters in our shared history become the stories from which today’s generation can learn to fight intolerance in all forms, to identify prejudice, stereotyping, polarization and to advocate for a world based on mutual respect.
Following a three-year safeguard quarantine, the saplings were cleared for planting in January 2013. They have been delivered to their new homes across the nation and plantings have already begun! For the most updated information on planting ceremonies, public events and online speaker forums please visit the Sapling Project website.