INDIANAPOLIS -- Saplings from the chestnut tree that stood as a symbol of hope for Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam are being distributed to 11 locations in the United States, including New York, as part of a project that aims to preserve her legacy and promote tolerance.
The tree, one of the Jewish teenager's only connections to nature while she hid with her family, was diseased and rotted through the trunk when wind and heavy rain toppled it in August 2010. But saplings grown from its seeds will be planted starting in April, when the Children's Museum of Indianapolis will put the first one in the ground.
The 11 U.S. locations -- which also include a park memorializing 9/11 victims in Manhattan, an Arkansas high school that was the heart of the desegregation battle and Holocaust centers in Michigan and Washington state -- were chosen by The Anne Frank Center USA from 34 applicants.
Winners were selected based on their commitment to equality, demonstration of the consequences of intolerance or historical significance to civil rights and social justice in the United States, according to a news release from the center.
"The heart of our mission is tolerance . . . Tolerance is really essential for being able to bring better welfare to everybody," said center spokesman Mike Clary.
The tree is referenced several times in the diary that Anne Frank kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until her family was arrested in August 1944.
"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."
A global campaign to save the chestnut was launched in 2007 after city officials deemed it a safety hazard and ordered it taken down. The tree was granted a last-minute reprieve after a battle in court, but age and nature ultimately brought it down.
Jeffrey Patchen, president and chief executive of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, said the sapling planted in the museum's Peace Park will stand next to a limestone carving of a podium with Anne's diary on it. A mock chestnut tree looms over the entrance to the museum's permanent Anne Frank exhibit, which features live performances in a space that teaches visitors about life in the Secret Annex where the Franks hid.