“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, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”
These are the words of Anne Frank whose remarkable diary has been required reading for teenagers worldwide. Today, one can visit the Amsterdam house in which she and her Jewish family hid from the Nazis during World War II. Even more amazing, one can still look out on the same, 150-year-old chestnut tree that so inspired Anne Frank. But not for long. The tree has fallen sick to fungus and the Amsterdam City Council has granted approval for it to be cut down.
This is a very sad, but necessary action. I recall visiting the house myself and being overwhelmed by the history contained within. To be able to look out the window and gaze upon the same chestnut tree truly hammered home the sobering reality of what happened there less than a century ago.
The good news is that a new tree will be planted from a sapling from the original. In the meantime, Anne Frank’s chestnut has about six more weeks before it will be felled–still plenty of time to fly over and check it out yourself.