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11/16/2006 11:34 AM

After a Long Bout with Illness

Anne Frank's Chestnut Tree to Be Cut Down

The famous chestnut tree which provided succor to Anne Frank during her years of hiding from the Nazis has succumbed to infection. It will soon be cut down -- but will live on in the Internet.

Tree doctors have long been trying to save Anne Frank's chestnut tree.
AP

Tree doctors have long been trying to save Anne Frank's chestnut tree.

After a long battle with illness and infection, the famous chestnut tree which provided Anne Frank inspiration and support during her years of hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam will now have to be cut down. For the last two years, the 150-year-old tree has been the victim of an aggressive fungus, as well as the dangerous horse chestnut leaf miner moth, for the last two years. It's now at risk of falling over. The decision was announced on Tuesday by the Amsterdam city council.

The news comes after a long battle to keep the tree alive. Last year, the tree's crown was cut back for stability. A number of botanists have also been performing tests and observing the chestnut in the past six months to do what they can to save it. In the 1990s, the city of Amsterdam spent €160,000 on a soil sanitation program after it was found that leakage of domestic fuel from a nearby underground tank was threatening the tree's root system. All for naught.

"It's very sad, but the decision has been taken," Patricia Bosboom, spokeswoman for the Anne Frank House Museum, told the AP. "It's one of the oldest chestnut trees in Amsterdam."

The tree made several appearances in Anne Frank's diary, written during the 25 months she and her family spent hiding from the Nazi occupiers from 1942 to 1944. It was the only bit of nature she could see from attic of the house in central Amsterdam -- all the other windows in the apartment were blacked out.

"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs," she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. "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...."

In May of that year, she wrote: "Our chestnut tree is in full blossom. It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year...."

The Frank family's hiding spot was discovered on August 4, 1944 and the eight people hiding in the attic were deported shortly afterwards to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot were later transferred to Bergen-Belsen where they both succumbed to typhus just weeks before the British liberated the camp.

The final permit to fell the tree won't likely be issued for a few more weeks, but the tree's fate is sealed. Parts of it will, however, live on. Three grafts were taken from the tree earlier this year in the event that the tree would have to be cut down. They will be planted to replace Anne Frank's original.

The chestnut also leads a virtual existence at the annefranktree.com Web site, and the museum keeps a Web cam trained on the famous tree.

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