Part of every school curriculum, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl chronicles the madness of the Holocaust as seen through the insightful eyes of a teenager who was in hiding for 25 months, only to succumb to the fate of a concentration camp in 1945. For the period of time that the aspiring writer and her family lived in the bookcase-concealed attic of the Achterhuis in Amsterdam, a huge horse chestnut tree served as a backdrop and natural shield from the sun. Frank referred to its beauty being even more impressive than the year before and noted that its bare branches held shining, silvery raindrops.
In recent years, the once mighty 27 ton tree became infected with a fungal disease and an onslaught of moths. Due to concern about it possibly falling into a neighboring structure or the now-famed Frank annex, it was scheduled to be cut down. Conservationists and historians, however, championed the ailing specimen, declaring that it wasn’t “just any tree. The Anne Frank tree is bound up with the persecution of the Jews.”
Following a great deal of publicity and brainstorming among multiple groups, a $73,090 USD steel frame was erected around the trunk, purportedly designed to extend its life by up to 15 years. Sadly, heavy rain and gale force winds on Monday managed to snap the tree three feet above the ground, and now portions of it are already being auctioned off on the Dutch auction website marktplaats.nl (one offer was an astounding $12.7 million USD).
A representative from the Support Anne Frank Tree group says that it’s the end of a 150 year era: “You have to bow your head to the facts. The tree has fallen and will be cut into pieces and disappear.” There is hope, however, because hundreds of clones – planted in both Amsterdam and the US – could potentially become the fitting phoenix of Anne Frank’s legacy.