Not Just A Tree

Tammy August 25, 2010 16

Back in 2006 I wrote an entry titled Just a Tree? in which I spoke about my visit to the Anne Frank House and the giant chestnut tree that stands behind it.

At that time there were a lot of discussions in regards to whether they were going to cut the tree down because it was weak and in danger of falling over.  It never was torn down though, and to be honest I haven’t thought about it a whole lot since.  Until today.

annetree2I just visited the blog of my friend DutchBitch and learned the terrible news that not only were my veggie plants the victim of the fierce winds of late, but also Anne’s beloved Chestnut tree.  It just fell right over.

This makes me sad.

The Anne Frank house is such an important part of the history of Amsterdam. Of this country even.  Day after day, year after year, people come from all over the world just to step behind that bookcase and spend a few moments in the same space that Anne Frank once inhabited.

We all have a moment while we are there, where we step outside of ourselves and try to imagine even just for a second what it was like for her.  We probably never come even close, how can we understand the loneliness and fear that she was experiencing at that time?  There wasn’t a lot there that was truly original after all these years, but the tree was.  It may have been bigger, but it was the same tree.

Now it will be gone.  From now on when people visit the Anne Frank House and look out her bedroom window, what will they see?

I suppose to some it probably sounds silly.  They will think It’s just a tree!, but no… it’s not just a tree. At least not to anyone who has read the book or stood in that room and seen it with their own eyes.

While looking for information after reading DB’s article, I did see something interesting.  Apparently eleven saplings have been taken from the tree and were brought to the United States for planting.

Wait? … What?

Eleven saplings have been taken from the tree in Amsterdam and have been taken to the United States to be planted?

OI, Americans… get your filthy mitts off our tree babies!  Who do we call about tree abduction??

Ok, that lady’s parents’ families were killed in the Holocaust, she can have a tree… but why do they get the other 10?  Seriously, why is at least one of them not staying in Amsterdam, or perhaps the other neighbouring countries that are more closely tied to this bit of history.

HELL, Canada played a major role in saving their butts, why aren’t my peeps getting a tree?  This is a travesty!

WAIT, crisis averted! I found another article. Give me a moment to cool my jets here…

According to this other article there are 150 saplings in Amsterdamse Bos Park.

They’re forgiven.

So there weren’t only 11 saplings, there were tons and they are all over the place.  It turns out that Anne’s tree really isn’t just a tree, it’s like the Octomom of trees!


  1. Amber August 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I read about this and it’s just saddening. I’ve read the Diary of a Young Girl several times, and every time it makes me cry.

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:29 am - Reply

      I think it has that affect on a lot of people :)

  2. Barbara Stoutjesdijk-Lyddane August 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    actually, i just picked this up in Dutch, planning to try it in it’s original version rather than a translation!

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Good idea! I’ve not worked up to reading a book in Dutch yet, maybe I’ll buy Twilight in Dutch and try to read it. It’ll have to be something that will keep my interest. Let me know how it goes!

  3. Sonya August 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Hey now….Im actually glad the Americans have some saplings..aswell as Canada. I would of thought it strange had The Netherlands not kept any of it. I went to the house and it was an experience I will never forget. The stairs leading up to their hideout was so steep and it made a loud noise when you walked up them. I can’t even begin to imagine how scared they must of been when they heard that noise and knew what was coming. I hope everyone is able to grow another beautiful tree in memory.

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Yeah it’s cool that they spread them around. I just got my hackles up when I thought there were only 11 and that all of them went to the US. Once I learned there were hundreds I wasn’t so fussed. It’s kind of cool that pieces of this tree will be all over the world!

  4. Zhu August 26, 2010 at 4:49 am - Reply

    It is kind of sad, this tree is much more than a tree… it’s s symbol. I think most kids (in Europe at least) have read Ann Franck’ Diary and understand the meaning of this tree.

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:31 am - Reply

      I think so too. I feel sorry for those who don’t know more about this and what it all means. It’s such a massive part of our world history.

  5. diningroomdiarist August 26, 2010 at 9:55 am - Reply

    The chestnut tree that fell was not the same one that Anne would have seen – it was 60 years bigger. The saplings that are being cultivated will grow rapidly and soon reach the size they would have been in 1943.

    While the tree was a part of Anne’s life, I have visited the Anne Frank House pretty often and I am generally so moved by what is inside the rooms that I rarely thought to look at the view.

    Still, I’m just really glad that the tree was felled by a force of nature rather than by a council decision.

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:32 am - Reply

      It was the same tree, just bigger. It’s still sad that it’s gone.
      I had the opposite reaction. I found the rooms to be really barren and lacking the feeling of what I thought it was going to be. Rooms with just cubes to sit on and TV screens, and her room was almost empty. They could have put some furniture in there to try to make it look like it would have looked when she was there.

  6. Invader_Stu August 26, 2010 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I heard the news yesterday as well. I think it’s quite sad.

    I don’t really understand why the saplings got taken to America. It seems like at least one of them should stay here to be grown and then placed where the original tree was.

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:33 am - Reply

      No no I -thought- there were only 11 but then I saw another article that there were hundreds of saplings taken from it. They are all over the world now and a load of them are in Amsterdam too :)

  7. Gaby August 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    It is sad… I’ve not yet read the book as I want to read it in Dutch in the future. But I am interested in her story. Now, this makes me sad that I missed out on the Anne Frank house when I was in A’dam ’cause the line was so long and we didn’t have the time. Jammer!

    I did want to say… I read the news article on a news website in which it claimed that besides the 11 clones of the tree in the US, there were also 150 planted in a park in A’dam? I guess that needs to be confirmed, but that did make sense.

    • Breigh August 29, 2010 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Yup that’s right, I mentioned that as well. I’m pretty sure they spread them far and wide. Which is sort of nice because there are people who were affected by this living all over the world now.

  8. Robin September 6, 2010 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I have never read it and I didn’t get to see it when we were there, Amsterdam scared the beejeezes out of us apparently we were not in a good section of the city and according to some we were lucky to make it out alive, i will take my kids back to Europe some day show them where I met their father, leave it to me to go all the way to germany and meet a CAnadian oh well I still love him

  9. Melissa September 24, 2010 at 11:54 am - Reply

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