Last week, the chestnut tree Anne Frank wrote about in her diary was blown down in a wind storm. She watched the tree (now more than 170 years old) from the attic window of an Amsterdam home throughout the Nazi stronghold of Europe. It was the only thing she could see from the family’s secret annex.
Anne wrote about the tree three times in her diary of the 18-month seclusion:
“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, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”
Frank’s hope for peace was steadfast and will be forever penned in her diary encouraging us to maintain hope:
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
The courts ordered the sick tree, infected with fungus and moths, to be cut down in 2007. But, a grassroots group rallied to save the tree and has grown into a foundation to preserve Anne’s tree. The foundation has kept Anne’s tree of hope alive for the 65 years since Anne’s arrest and had taken responsibility to care for the tree.
A Haaretz (Hebrew for “the Earth”) reporter interviewing Hans Westra, the executive director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, suggested the tree had stood as a remembrance to the peoples tortured and exterminated during the Holocaust. It stood to tell the story of the Holocaust. The tree was a tangible connection to the history of the generations coming as the generation of survivors is passing.
The tree became sick and has been fallen, but it is not dead. The wood has now been hauled away, but the trunk will remain in the garden. A shoot growing in the trunk will be allowed to grow to maturity drawing on the support of the old trunk to grow. This shoot will carry on the happiness Anne found in her tree. Other saplings from the tree have been planted in an Amsterdam park and around the world, including 11 in the US which were planted in places that signify victories in the fight against intolerance. Perhaps, we could say that new hope is growing with these saplings – a new hope for the end of intolerance.
The tree signified hope for peace and freedom. The falling of this tree has inspired me to think about hope in my life – these questions, you might ask of yourself. How has hope taken root in my life? How easily could my hope be blown down by a storm? Is there something that represents hope in my life like Anne’s tree in hers? Who tends my hope and keeps it alive? How will I be a voice of hope to future generations?
May your hope be rooted in the Resurrected Lord,
Quote #1 source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/europe/anne-frank-tree-toppled-by-storm/article1682966/
Quote #2 source: http://www.answers.com/topic/anne-frank
For the full Haaretz interview, visit: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/why-is-a-tree-falling-front-page-news-1.310073
For more about the survival of the shoot, visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_netherlands_anne_frank_tree.
For more information on the saplings, visit: http://www.haaretz.com/news/sapling-from-anne-frank-tree-planted-in-amsterdam-park-1.2768.