'Anne Frank tree' sapling planted in Highbury Fields
PUBLISHED: 11:21 19 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:21 19 May 2016
A sapling from Anne Frank's favourite tree is now growing in Highbury Fields after her friend planted a chestnut originally brought over from Amsterdam.
The young tree, donated by Upper Street’s Business Design Centre where it was initially planted, comes from the 170-year-old white horse chestnut tree that featured regularly in the murdered schoolgirl’s diary.
Guest of honour at Wednesday’s tree-planting ceremony was Eva Schloss MBE, who knew Anne before the war and whose bereaved mother later married Anne’s father.
There were also readings from the famous diaries by children from Highbury Grove School, with council leader Richard Watts giving a short speech.
Dr. Schloss, 87, told stories from her time in hiding in Amsterdam during the war, and her subsequent time spent in Auschwitz at the age of just 15. Her father and brother were killed at the concentration camp.
Speaking to the Gazette after the event, she explained the tree’s significance.
“I hope people will come around the tree, to think and talk about what it means, about its significance and about the message of Anne Frank. For me the tree is a symbol of hope.”
Cllr Watts described it as a “privilege to have the tree in one of our parks”, adding: “Islington is a place of enormous diversity and I hope this tree will act as a permanent reminder of creating a cohesive and united community.”
In 2005 it was discovered the original tree Anne described from her home in Amsterdam was dying. So the Anne Frank House museum decided to gather chestnuts, germinate them, and donate the saplings to select organisations over the next few years.
One went to the Business Design Centre, who decided to donate the tree to the park after it outgrew its original home.
During the event Dr Schloss also recounted how she got to grips with speaking publicly about her experiences.
“I was at an Anne Frank exhibition and Ken Livingston, who organised the exhibition and was very helpful in setting everything up, said: ‘And now Eva will say a few words’,” she said.
“I had never spoken publicly before, but I suddenly found everything that I had suppressed for 40 years came flooding out.”
Referring to the row that has blighted the Labour Party in recent weeks, she added of the former London Mayor: “I’ve been on good terms with Ken ever since, and I can tell you he’s not an anti-Semite.”