20 June 2019
For the two years that Anne Frank remained in The Annexe, the building where she and her family were hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, her only contact with the outside world was an old chestnut tree that she could see from a window in the attic. The teenage girl, living in constant fear of bomb blasts, often took comfort in the beauty of nature from her favourite spot as she wrote “I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops glisten like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.” She later added in her famous diary “while this lasts I cannot be unhappy”. Over the years the chestnut tree deteriorated due to fungi and infection, and in August 2010, it was blown down by high winds and heavy rain. However, its legacy lives on. Before it died some saplings were extracted and planted around the world, including Holocaust memorial sites and the White House. These young trees remind us of the bleakest human moments and yet the idea of better things to come. Nature is such a powerful source of hope!