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Famed Anne Frank sapling arrives at SSU

A tiny 18-inch sapling grown from the spreading white horse chestnut tree that was one of Holocaust victim Anne Frank's only connections to the natural world, is now at home in Rohnert Park.

Sonoma State University is the first of 11 locations in the United States, including the White House, to receive a sapling from the famous tree visible through the window of the Amsterdam Annex that served as the Frank family's Hiding Place. Young Anne, whose posthumously published diary has been made into a stage play, movie and ballet, mentioned the tree in a number of entries.

The remainder of the other saplings are being held at a Maryland facility awaiting processing to their new homes.

Now 150-years-old, the original mother tree is battling a lethal fungus and was at the center of a public battle over whether it should be cut down or preserved as long as possible. It is now being supported by a steel structure but is not expected to survive more than another five to 15 years. Grafts were taken in anticipation.

The young tree with distinguished roots is under lock and key for three years in a special shade house on the SSU campus while it grows. It will be supervised by Sam Youney, the campus' director of landscaping, who is an expert in plant diseases and pest control. It passed initial inspection by a state pathologist two weeks ago.

The controlled environment will protect it from rain, rodens and insects until it is ready to thrive on its own. Eventually it will be planted at the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove at SSU, which also has a center for the study of the Holocaust and genocide.

A sign near the tree will carry the words written by young Anne Frank in her diary: "How wondrful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Elaine Leeder, dean of the School of Social Sciences at SSU, said the addition of the Anne Franke will "solify the SSU campus as a major center on the West Coast for the study of the Holocaust and genocide."

"It will provide, eventually, a vast canopy under which the University Holocaust Lecture Series and the academic and educational programs throughout Northn California will continue for generations," she said.

Te young tree is expected to eventually grown to 80 feet tall and 75 feet wide when mature.

Yvonne Simons, executive director of The Anne Frank Center, USA, said the organization is interested in donating cuttings from the original tree to establishments that are equipped not just to memorialize Anne Frank, but to relate her story to other instances of injustice, intolerance and discrimination.


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