Anne Frank tree saplings keep symbol of hope alive

AMSTERDAM Fri Dec 4, 2009 9:46pm IST

Residents of the Jewish elderly persons home Beth Shalom stand in front of a seedling of the Anne Frank Tree which has been planted in Amstelveen December 4, 2009.      REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

Residents of the Jewish elderly persons home Beth Shalom stand in front of a seedling of the Anne Frank Tree which has been planted in Amstelveen December 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jerry Lampen

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Saplings from a tree that brought comfort to Anne Frank as she hid with her family from the Nazis are being planted in an Amsterdam park amid concerns about the health of the 150-year-old white horse chestnut.

The Jewish teenager mentioned the tree in the diary she wrote while cooped up in a concealed attic for more than two years during World War Two. The diary became a worldwide best-seller after her death in a concentration camp in 1945.

"This tree has a special meaning for Amsterdam but also for people all over the world," said city councillor Marijke Vos, before planting of 150 saplings given to the park on Friday.

"It is a symbol of hope and freedom, and with these saplings we can share that hope and freedom with the whole world."

Following similar plantings in cities such as Paris and Madrid, Vos said there were also plans to plant a sapling near to Ground Zero in New York where nearly 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The tree was one of the few signs of nature visible from the young diarist's stuffy hiding place.

"Our chestnut tree is in full blossom. It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year," she wrote in May 1944, not long before she was betrayed to the Nazis.

Infected with fungus, the it was set to be felled in 2007, due to concerns for the safety of the 1 million people who visit Anne Frank's house each year.

But officials and conservationists agreed to secure it with a frame expected to prolong its life for a few years.

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby, editing by Paul Taylor)

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