The Amsterdam tree that reminded Anne Frank of life ended its life on Monday.
The 150-year-old, 65-foot-high horse chestnut, which was rotted and weakened by moths and a fungus for more than a decade, collapsed in heavy wind and rain.
“It broke off like a match,” a spokesman for the Anne Frank House, in whose hidden annex the young writer hid for 25 months, told Reuters. The Anne Frank House, now a museum, was not touched, but the tree crashed through several gardens, damaging a brick wall and several sheds.
Concerned that the tree could cause damage or injuries if it toppled, Amsterdam officials attempted to have it felled as a safety hazard in 2007, but an international outcry caused the city to spend more than $150,000 in stabilizing the tree and improving its surrounding soil. A steel harness was erected around the base.
The tree is known in Dutch as the Anne Frankboom (Anne Frank tree).
In her diary, Frank wrote several times about the tree, one of the few parts of nature visible from the annex window.
“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy stuff out of my lungs,” she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. “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,” she wrote in another entry, “and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies … while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”
Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only immediate member of her family to survive the Holocaust, said in a 1968 speech that he realized after reading her diary how much the sight of the tree had meant to his daughter.
“I recall that she never took an interest in nature,” he said, “but she longed for it during that time she felt like a caged bird. She only found consolation in thinking about nature.”
About five years ago the Anne Frank House began collecting chestnuts from the tree to grow seedlings in Frank’s memory at parks and schools around the world, including at Yad Vashem
A sapling from the tree will reportedly be planted in the tree’s place in Amsterdam. And one will be planted here in the coming years at Ground Zero.
Frank, who was rounded up along with the other inhabitants of the annex in August 1944, died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945.