October 16, 2009

SSU Holocaust and Genocide Memorial to Receive 1 of 11 Anne Frank Saplings in US

Anne Frank found comfort in looking at the chestnut tree behind the Secret Annex.
She often looked at it from the attic window, and she wrote about it in her diary. In
this video you see the chestnut tree filmed with the Secret Annex in the
background and from the attic window of the Secret Annex.

A 18-inch tall sapling grown from the horse chestnut tree that often lifted Anne Frank's spirits as she hid from the Nazis during World War II is coming to the newly created Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove at Sonoma State University.

The Rohnert Park campus is one of 11 locations nationwide that will receive a sapling taken from the mature, aging tree that resides behind the Annex where Anne Frank, her family and friends spent two years in hiding. The 150-year-old tree is battling a lethal fungus.

The University learned of the news when its name appeared this morning as one of the winners on the Anne Frank Center USA website - www.AnneFrank.com.

To greater accomplish its educational goals, the Anne Frank Center USA (AFC) together with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam donated the eleven saplings of the Anne Frank Tree to the sites across the country.

The AFC is primarily interested in protecting the health of the tree and donating it to establishments that are equipped to tell the story of Anne Frank so that it is relevant to other incidences of injustice, intolerance and discrimination, says Yvonne Simons, Executive Director, The Anne Frank Center, USA.

banner-bottom.jpgThe sapling will be planted at the foot of the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove at Sonoma State University near the lakes area. Signage near the tree will carry the words written by Frank in her diary: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

The Grove was dedicated this past spring and is designed to honor survivors and victims of the genocides committed throughout the world, including the Native American Genocide, the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, the Cambodian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, and the current-day genocide in Darfur.

Another aim of the monument is to recognize educators, scholars and activists working for awareness, tolerance and human rights across the globe.

"The addition of the Anne Frank tree will solidify the SSU campus as a major center on the West Coast for the study of the Holocaust and genocide," says Elaine Leeder, Dean of School of Social Sciences. "It will provide eventually a vast canopy under which the University Holocaust Lecture Series and the academic and educational programs throughout Northern California will continue for generations."

Hans Angress of Santa Rosa, who went to school with Anne Frank in the fall of 1941, says "Anne Frank has become such a symbol of the human toll of intolerance worldwide. I find it wonderful and appropriate that this living asset to SSU's already existing Memorial Grove will be added."

tree-3.jpgThe choice of SSU is a "perfect fit," says Senior Director for Capital Planning,
Design and Construction Christopher Dinno. "We live in a world- renowned region with the climate and soil characteristics that are ideal for this historical sapling."

SSU has the experience and resources, including an onsite arborist who can nurture the tree, along with a full complement of landscape specialists that have demonstrated experience to ensure that this sapling grows to full maturity, he says.

Other saplings are scheduled to be sent to: The White House, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Southern Cayuga School District, Washington State Holocaust Resource Center, Boston Common, Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., the Holocaust Memorial Center, the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Why was SSU chosen? Simons says:

"The panel felt that your site 'connected all the dots' by writing an inspiring proposal, drawing all aspects of tolerance together. Your Center for the study of the Holocaust, created by Dr. John Steiner (Dachau and Auschwitz survivor), your membership including Hans Angress, a Berlin Jew who attended school with Anne Frank, and your inclusion of educational programs on other genocides in the world. We particularly like the concept that the sapling would be placed near the Martin Luther King sculpture - and the fact that both were born in 1929, both slain by ignorance and hatred - both lives committed to contribute to human dialogue. And of course, your site plan and ability to maintain the tree on your premises was also very good!"

For further information, contact Jean Wasp, Media Relations Coordinator, Sonoma State University, (707) 664-2057.

ABOVE, SSU Holocaust Grove near the campus lakes area features a sculpture created by Professor Jann Nunn with a famous quote from Martin Luther King: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

RIGHT, An imagined view of the horse chestnut tree at maturity that would provide canopy at the Grove.


Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove at SSU

Anne Frank Center USA

Video of the Chesntut tree from Anne Frank's hiding place

Digital photos of the Horse Chestnut tree, the SSU Memorial Grove and sculpture,
and other illustrations are available upon request.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057