IT MAY HAVE appeared to be nothing but a simple tree, nestled in the middle of the centre of Amsterdam. To Anne Frank, though, it had an entirely different significance.
The massive tree that helped to keep the teenage Anne Frank perked up while she hid from the Nazis has been toppled by an intense storm of wind and heavy rain on Monday night.
“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs,” Frank had written in her diary in February 1944, shortly before her family was discovered.
“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.”
The once-formidable 150-year-old horse chestnut tree snapped about a metre above ground and crashed across several gardens during the storm, having already been significantly weakened by an aggressive fungus.
The fallen tree damaged a brick wall and some sheds, but nearby buildings – including the house in which Frank lived, which is now a museum -escaped damage. There were no human injuries.
Amsterdam city authorities had ordered the tree to be cut down in 2007, such was the danger its fungus had posed. It was saved after a worldwide petition by people seeing the tree as a symbol of freedom.
As a result, however, it had been encased with a steel support which failed during the storm.