In 2006, the diseased, 150-year-old chestnut tree that Anne Frank gazed at through a window in her family's attic as they hid from the Nazis during War II, was set to be destroyed.
Eleven saplings from the tree were saved for planting at significant U.S. locations, including The White House, Boston Common, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove at Sonoma State University.
SSU is only one of two West Coast recipients of the Anne Frank Tree saplings.
The Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove, situated adjacent to the campus lakes, features a ten-foot tall light tower sculpture created by SSU Professor Jann Nunn, railroad tracks symbolic of the Nazi deportations and bricks inscribed with names and places of those who endured the horrors of genocide including Native American, Armenian, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur.
Signage near the tree will carry the words written by Frank in her diary: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
For almost three years, SSU has nurtured the quarantined sapling, but it is reaching its planting time.
A public ceremony is scheduled to take place in May 2012 at SSU to honor young Anne Frank and her message of hope and perseverance that she frequently referenced in her diary in connection to the tree.
The sapling has been growing in a special shade house under lock and key for three years supervised by Sam Youney, SSU Director of Landscape Services, an expert in plant diseases and pest control.
"Our intent is to invite people who have donated to the creation of the grove, donors to the Holocaust and Genocide program at SSU and people involved with the Jewish Studies program. Seating will be limited to invited guests," says Dr. Elaine Leeder, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and one of the organizers of the event. The event will also honor Helena Foster, a Holocaust survivor who has donated to SSU for a "circle of trees" to be planted near the sapling.
Anne Frank died in a concentration camp of typhus in March 1945 after her family was discovered in the hidden rooms.
The Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, Indianapolis Children's Museum, Sonoma State University and others would like to create lesson plans from participating organizations, reflecting human rights, environmental, or Anne Frank related material and could include:
* Workshops for teachers and lessons on emotional intelligence, empathy and resiliency using Anne Frank as a role model.
* Science content about nurturing the chestnut trees/saplings and background on Anne Frank.
* Annual meetings for all of the sites to celebrate the project that could coincide with Anne Frank's birthday, involving visitors traveling to Anne Frank Tree sites.
For information about the May 2012 planting, contact Dr. Elaine Leeder, Dean, SSU School of Social Sciences, at (707) 664-2112.
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