Public Planting of Anne Frank Sapling Nears at SSU Holocaust Memorial Grove


Anne Frank tree planted at Sonoma State
Carolyn Jones San Francisco Chronicle

Six-thousand miles and 70 years from the darkest hours of World War II, in a sunny grove in Rohnert Park on Sunday afternoon, Anne Frank's dream took root.
In a simple ceremony on campus, staff at Sonoma State University planted a chestnut sapling from the stately tree that the Holocaust diarist gazed upon, took inspiration from and wrote about while hiding with her family in an Amsterdam attic from 1940 to 1942.

"I've been waiting a long time for this," said Lillian Judd, 90, a Holocaust survivor who now lives in Santa Rosa and was one of several hundred who attended the tree planting. "I'm thrilled to see it. This keeps it alive, something else that makes us remember the Holocaust."

Read more:

Sapling from tree at Anne Frank's home joins SSU memorial
By Jeremy Hay, The Press Democrat

The sapling was about 5 feet tall and surrounded by towering fir and cypress on the Sonoma State University campus, and its variegated leaves glowed an almost electric green in the unobstructed sun.

Cut from the horse chestnut that stood outside the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for 25 months, the slender tree is now a keynote of Sonoma State University's 30-year effort to mark and memorialize the Holocaust and other genocides.

Video of the mother chestnut tree outside the Secret Annex where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis in World War II. The tree was lost due to storm damage in 2010 and only the saplings taken from it remain.

The courage and inspiration of Anne Frank will be honored in mid-April as SSU plans to plant the sapling taken from the mother chestnut tree that often gave Frank hope as she hid from the Nazis in World War II.

SSU is one of only 11 recipients of the Anne Frank tree saplings in the United States. They are all being planted in public dedications this year.

The planting ceremony at Sonoma State University is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 14 at the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove near the campus lakes. The public is invited.

A private reception follows in the Commons at 2 p.m. Tours of the Grove where the sapling is planted will be offered beginning April 22.

The ceremony will also honor Helena Foster, a Holocaust survivor who has donated to SSU for a circle of 18 trees to be planted near the sapling.


To commemorate the planting of the Anne Frank sapling on April 14, SSU is hosting a few events in association with the event.

Holocaust and Genocide Lecture Series:
(4-5:40 p.m., Warren Auditorium (Ives Hall 101))

Michael Berenbaum - "Seeds of Rememberance"

Hans Angress - "Lessons Learned from a Holocaust Childhood"

On Tuesday, April 9, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, the preeminent U. S. Holocaust scholar, will present "Seeds of Remembrance" at the Robert L. Harris Memorial Lecture given in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Holocaust and Genocide Lecture Series. Dr. Berenbaum was the founding project director at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. More information about him is available at

On Tuesday April 16, Hans Angress, who went to school with Anne Frank in the fall of 1941, discusses "Lessons Learned from a Holocaust Childhood." Angress says "Anne Frank has become such a symbol of the human toll of intolerance worldwide. I find it wonderful and appropriate that this living asset to SSU's already existing Memorial Grove will be added."

University Library:
Anne Frank: A History for Today

The University Library is currently offering an exhibit on its main floor called Anne Frank: A History for Today through April 22. The exhibit and education program features the story of Anne Frank and her family juxtaposed against world events before, during and after the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Reception with light snacks takes place on April 12 from 12:30 - 2 p.m. on the second floor of the University Library.

For more information, visit

"The addition of the Anne Frank tree will solidify the SSU campus as a major center on the West Coast for the study of the Holocaust and genocide," says Leeder.

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

Ard van der Vorst, Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands, is the keynote speaker of the day.

Other speakers include:

Hilary Eddy Stipelman, The Anne Frank Center, USA
Dr. Ruben Arminana, SSU president
Dr. Elaine Leeder, Dean of the School of Social Sciences
Hans Angress, a classmate of Anne Frank
David Salm, co-founder of the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove
Jann Nunn, SSU sculpture professor
Dr. Myrna Goodman, Director of the Holocaust and Genocide Center and Lecture Series
Christopher Dinno, Senior Director of Capital Planning, Design and Construction

For almost three years, SSU has nurtured the quarantined sapling that arrived from the Netherlands in late 2009. It has been growing in a special shade house supervised by Sam Youney, SSU Director of Landscape Services, an expert in plant diseases and pest control.

The sapling is being planted in a grove that features a ten-foot tall light tower sculpture created by Professor Jann Nunn. Railroad tracks, symbolic of the Nazi deportations, radiate from the tower. Engraved in the glass tower's base are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Bricks laid between the rails are 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."

saplinglogo.jpegWhy was SSU chosen?

Yvonne Simons of The Anne Frank Center, USA told SSU that:

"The panel felt that your site 'connected all the dots' by writing an inspiring proposal, drawing all aspects of tolerance together. Your Center for the study of the Holocaust, created by Dr. John Steiner (Dachau and Auschwitz survivor), your membership including Hans Angress, a Berlin Jew who attended school with Anne Frank, and your inclusion of educational programs on other genocides in the world. We particularly like the concept that the sapling would be placed near the Martin Luther King sculpture - and the fact that both were born in 1929, both slain by ignorance and hatred - both lives committed to contribute to human dialogue."

More details and photos about the planting can be found at

The Anne Frank Sapling Project

The Anne Frank Sapling Project came to life in 2009, when The Anne Frank Center USA awarded eleven sites a sapling derived from the nearly 200 year-old horse chestnut tree that towered behind the Secret Annex, where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis from 1942-44.

As Anne gazed out the attic window, the tree not only comforted her through their seasons in hiding, but stood as a symbol of all that she was missing in the outside world. Despite efforts to shore it up, the aged, diseased tree toppled in a windstorm in 2010.

The White House, Liberty Park (former site of the World Trade Center) and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis were initially designated to receive one of the eleven saplings. Thirty-four organizations responded to the Center's 2009 request-for-proposals.

The winning locations were selected because they embody Anne's unwavering belief in equality; because they demonstrate the horrific consequences of intolerance in all of its forms; or because they showcase historic events in civil rights and social justice in the US.

afclogo.jpg"We are excited that we can now move forward with planting the saplings and launching a national education initiative called Confronting Intolerance Today: Lessons from Anne Frank," says Simons of Anne Frank USA. "As the saplings take root, they will become living symbols of justice and tolerance in America for many years to come."

"The message of tolerance will spread from these eleven communities across the country, joining these historical examples of hatred and discrimination with contemporary issues," Simon says. More information on the Sapling Project can be found at

For information about the April 2013 planting, contact Dr. Elaine Leeder, Dean, School of Social Sciences,, (707) 664-2120.

Reservations for tours of the Grove and the sapling can be made with Andrea Rodriquez-Jereb,, (707) 664-2018.

A YouTube video of the mother chestnut tree outside the Secret Annex can be found at

Media contact:

Jean Wasp
News and Information Coordinator
Sonoma State University
1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 664-2057

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