Horse chestnut tree diseased
The chestnut tree that Anne Frank looked out on during the time she was hiding is seriously diseased. The causes of its present poor condition are a moth and a fungus attacking the tree and may eventually kill it.
The fungus in particular is of an aggressive type and may in the end prove fatal to the tree. The moth (the so-called horse chestnut leaf miner) eats away at the leaves which eventually causes them to turn brown and fall off long before autumn. This can be clearly seen in the photograph on the left.
The 150-year-old tree (a white horse chestnut tree - Aesculus hippocastanum) stands in the inner garden of the house Keizersgracht 188, not the property of the Anne Frank House.
Soil analysis carried out in 1993 revealed that one of the factors threatening the condition of the tree was leakage of domestic fuel oil from an underground storage tank. To save the old chestnut tree, the city of Amsterdam commissioned a soil sanitation plan of 160,000 euros. Following that, the city decided also to look after the tree in subsequent years, taking it out of the care of the Anne Frank House.
The half-yearly research held in April 2005 shows that the chestnut tree can, for the moment, be preserved. To increase stability, it was decided to considerably decrease the crown of the tree. This drastic job will take place on 26 May and can be viewed via the web cam.
To anticipate the possible cutting of the tree, grafts have been made. This means that a clone of the tree can be replanted.
Quotes from the Diary
Anne Frank wrote the following entries about the chestnut tree in her diary:
23 February 1944
The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn’t speak.
18 April 1944
April is glorious, not too hot and not too cold, with occasional light showers. Our chestnut tree is in leaf, and here and there you can already see a few small blossoms.
13 May 1944
Our chestnut tree is in full blossom. It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.
In a speech he gave in 1968 Otto Frank recounted the thoughts that came to his mind when he read Anne’s diary for the first time:
How could I have suspected that it meant so much to Anne to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the gulls during their flight and how important the chestnut tree was to her, as I recall that she never took an interest in nature. But she longed for it during that time when she felt like a caged bird. She only found consolation in thinking about nature. But she had kept such feelings completely to herself.