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Tree from Anne Frank's hiding place comes to U.S.

Compiled by Kate Bennion

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, April 12 2013 12:12 p.m. MDT

This Nov. 15, 2006 photo shows the chestnut tree, right, that comforted Anne Frank while she hid from the Nazis during World War II.

Peter DeJong, Associated Press

Sixty-eight years after her death, saplings from near Anne Frank's hiding place are taking root and spreading a message of tolerance and peace.

Although Anne Frank was barred from coming to the U.S. herself, saplings from the tree visible from her hiding place are coming to 11 locations, including the World Trade Center memorial, Holocaust memorial centers in Washington D.C. and Michigan, and the White House.

Frank was 13 when she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis. They left their German neighborhood for Holland, hiding in an Amsterdam garret with four others for two years. The tree, a white horse chesnut, was visible from the only window that was not blocked out.

Later captured, Frank died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen at 15 years old. "The Diary of a Young Girl," published after her death, has since been translated into 67 languages and more than 30 million copies have been sold. She wrote about the tree several times in her diary.

Her father, Otto Frank, said after her death, "How could I have known how much it meant to Anne to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the seagulls as they flew and how important the chestnut tree was for her, when I think that she never showed any interest in nature. Still, she longed for it when she felt like a bird in a cage. Only the thought of the freedom of nature gave her comfort."

In 2005, the Anne Frank House decided to begin germinating saplings from the tree's chesnuts. Other saplings have since been distributed around the world.

The chesnut tree was due to be chopped down in 2007 when disease and rot put it at risk to fall over. After a court injunction, it was supported by a steel structure to preserve it. However, the tree was blown over in 2010 and removed.

According to a statement from the Anne Frank Center USA, the saplings have been in a three-year quarantine from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will be delivered to the locations this year. Other locations include the Children's Museum of Indianapolis and Central High School in Arkansas, a location of the desegregation battle.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that "winners were selected based on their commitment to equality, demonstration of the consequences of intolerance or historical significance to civil rights and social justice in the U.S."

"The heart of our mission is tolerance," center spokesman Mike Clary told the newspaper. "Tolerance is really essential for being able to bring better welfare to everybody."

EMAIL: kbennion@deseretnews.com, TWITTER: @katebennion

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