9/20/2014

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Offshoot from Anne Frank's 'tree of hope' to grow in Seattle

Offshoot from Anne Frank's 'tree of hope' to grow in Seattle
SEATTLE - A tree that symbolized peace and hope for Anne Frank during her time in hiding from the Nazis during World War II is now growing in Seattle.

The young, seemingly nondescript sapling has people looking twice and is generating a new flourish of excitement at Seattle's Parks and Recreation greenhouses.

"I think it's pretty amazing," says Ilana Cone Kennedy of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.

It's a cloned sapling from the same tree that Holocaust victim Anne Frank looked out on from her attic window as she and her family hid for two years. As she describes in her diary, the horse chestnut tree gave her hope during those years of darkness.

"There's several references to it, and the tree became a symbol of hope and of Anne Frank herself," Kennedy says. "What she sees through this small window in the attic is this tree outside, and this is really her one connection to the outside world."

Now a piece of that tree will be a connection from past to present.

The original stood outside the Amsterdam apartment for 170 years until it became diseased and finally toppled in 2010. Saplings were made and 11 put up for application across the United States.

Seattle was selected in part to honor the victims of the 2008 Jewish Federation shooting.

"We wanted to not remember the violence, but remember our community coming together with such strength," says Kennedy.

The sapling could be planted next year - although a final location hasn't been chosen - and it's expected to stand for more than a century.

"In that 100 years it will impact another five to 10 generations," says Mark Mead of the Seattle Parks Department.

Those generations will learn of a tree ... of tolerance ... of a teenage girl who once wrote: "From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree. … As long as this exists … I cannot be unhappy."

The Parks Department is trying to find a place to plant the sapling. Right now they're considering Columbia Park so library visitors could see it from the window.
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