Support Anne Frank Tree

History

The eventful history of the chestnut tree in the courtyard garden on the prinsengracht.

Approx. 1850

The white horse-chestnut is planted on the inner court of the block north of the Westerkerk between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. This location is beautifully displayed on Google Maps.

1943- 1944

About one hundred years later, the striking tree can be seen clearly from the attic window of the secret annex where Anne Frank was hiding during the years 1943-1944. For Anne it is the only direct relationship with life outside and the changing of the seasons. Thanks to Anne’s diary, “her” tree also becomes a symbol of hope and love for life for others.

1989

First threat to the chestnut: the expansion plans of the Anne Frank House. They want to expand the building on the Keizersgracht next to the Anne Frank House to almost on top of the Anne Frank tree.For this, a large part of the roots should be cut and that is very bad for a tree and certainly for such a monumental specimen. Local residents oppose the damage to the tree and the plan ultimately does not go through.

1993

Shortly thereafter, it is known that the soil is contaminated by oil leaks from one or more old underground tanks that were previously used to heat the houses. The Municipality of Amsterdam takes over the care of the tree and in 1993 carries out a large-scale soil remediation. Furthermore, the tree is skilfully cared for.

Photo: Helga Fassbinder ©

2005

Commissioned by the municipality of Amsterdam, the chestnut is topped, which means that the upper part of the crown is sawn off. As a result, the tree does not protrude so far above the houses and will therefore catch less wind. The danger of blowing is thus reduced.

2006

Residents worry about the tree. Thanks to fruiting bodies of a tinder mushroom, the tree shows clearer aging phenomena. The residents ask an expert whether a soil treatment can improve the condition of the tree. His simple proposal is put forward by the residents in Amsterdam. However, the new manager of the tree, the central district municipality, does not respond to this.

November 13, 2006

From this date it becomes dramatic. In the community center, concerned local residents are invited to an information meeting. The research report hired by the municipality of Amsterdam is made known; the conclusion is that the tree must be cut down. The residents ask whether the research report was also viewed and signed by the municipal tree consultant Hans Kaljee. The answer is that he was involved in the investigation and the conclusion. But when the residents speak to him personally the next day, he turns out to know nothing. At the same meeting, the residents ask for a ‘second opinion’, since you do not have to carry out such an important decision on the basis of one investigation. The city center judges that this is not necessary. From the morning papers the next day, strangely enough, it appears that all the international press is aware of the need for felling.

November 20, 2006

The Center district publishes the cutting application for the chestnut. Local residents have until 18 December to object.

Photo: Helga Fassbinder ©

December 18, 2006

Residents and ‘De Bomenstichting’ object to the cutting application.

6 March 2007

Despite the notice of objection, the owner of the tree, Mr. Pomes, gives a definite permission for the felling of the tree.

March 24, 2007

At the initiative of local residents, a panel of 12 tree experts from all over the Netherlands is invited to look at the research report. They are unanimous in the opinion that there are more possibilities than just cutting down the tree.

Conservation and anchoring measures are the possible alternatives.

April 2007

The action group of residents organizes an alternative study by the very famous English specialist in old “veterane” trees, Neville Fay. He uses an advanced method for research, just like the advisory company at the Municipality of Amsterdam. The result is positive for the tree.

May 2007

The committee of inquiry will hold a hearing on the notice of objection from the residents and the Trees Foundation. It will also show that the Centrum district deliberately put aside the report of the municipal tree consultant, because his conclusion was that further research had to take place and the possible alternatives should be examined.

Summer 2007

The residents start together with the Bomenstichting with the preparations for an alternative plan to preserve the tree.

September 18, 2007

The investigation committee gives the objectioners until 1 January 2008 the time to submit an alternative plan.

Photo: Helga Fassbinder ©

October 2007

The Dutch Tree Foundation indicates that they will hold a tensile test on Wednesday, November 14, 2007.

November 13, 2007

On the night before the tensile test, the central district gets the test results from September out of the drawer and suddenly calls that the tree is collapsing, supported by a report from the advisory company to the Municipality of Amsterdam. The district also declares that the tree will be sawn down one week later out of necessity.

November 14, 2007

The tree experts of the Dutch Tree Foundation come as planned to carry out their tensile test. But the police are called in to ban the tensile test.

November 19, 2007

The tensile test is prepared under pressure of mass interest from the press. The district center is still threatening that if the pull puff does take place, they will withdraw completely from the duty of care of the tree and that they will reject all responsibility. Despite this threat, the tensile test is still carried out.

Result: The tree can survive wind force 12 and the judge who is now engaged forbids the “emergency felling” .

November 20, 2007

Judgment Day: After a long consultation with the parties involved and after a tour around the tree, the judge’s judgment is that the tree should not be cut down for the time being. First the alternatives have to be looked at. For this, they will have time until mid-January 2008.

Condition: The parties must come to a common plan for the maintenance of the tree.

Despite the verdict of the judge, the City Center and the Anne Frank House give a press conference in which they repeat their views on the extreme danger and point the mayor to the emergency situation.

Photo: Helga Fassbinder ©

December 2007 – February 2008

The beginning of a lengthy and careful mediation process by Eberhard van der Laan (since May 2010, mayor of Amsterdam) The mediation is problematic because there is no compromise. The action group wants to keep the tree, the Municipality and the Anne Frank foundation don’t.

After extensive discussions, two conditions must be met: The action group must take full responsibility for the tree from the end of February 2008. This means that all costs and maintenance in the future are for their account.

The second condition: before May 31, 2008 the supporting construction must be present. If that is not the case, the tree will be cut down on 1 June 2008.

These conditions are laid down in a contract signed by all parties involved.

April 30, 2008

The Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation invites the international press to inform them that the supporting structure has been completed. Great relief. The joyful news appears in all Dutch and foreign press organs.

From May 2008

The Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation has two core tasks: caring for the tree and paying off the building debt. Despite the generous support of the construction companies, there is still a residual debt left behind.

August 23, 2010

On August 23, at 14.20, the Anne Frank tree crashed due to a violent storm and heavy rain. Due to unclear circumstances, the support construction could not hold the tree. It is true that the many leaves that he had created this year and the heavy rain, formed a lot of weight in the extremely strong gusts of wind entering the courtyard. People were not harmed, not even buildings, just a few in-between walls and two garden sheds.

Photo: Helga Fassbinder ©