After more than a year of legal wrangling, a chestnut tree which Anne Frank mentioned in her diary as she hid from Nazi occupation has been saved from the axe, Amsterdam authorities said Wednesday.
The tree, which Frank wrote about as the rare glimpse of the outside world in her nearly two years in hiding, will paradoxically end its life trapped in a steel beam construction.
AdvertisementAnne Frank wrote in her diary on February 23, 1944: "The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air."
"We were so moved and entranced that we couldn't speak."
The legal battle between the city and the tree's owner, who wanted to cut it down for safety reasons, and environmental activists and local residents who wanted to preserve the chestnut, was finally laid to rest this week.
"An agreement was signed Monday. It is inconceivable that this agreement will be rejected and the municipality has already given it the go-ahead," Dutch economist Arnold Heertje, a leading member of the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation, told AFP.
"I am very happy with the outcome. This is not just any tree, it is part of the history of Anne Frank and the history of the persecution of the Jews," he said.
The city of Amsterdam confirmed the deal and said the foundation will take over the care of the 150-year-old tree.
The chestnut weighs about 30 tonnes and stands in the garden of a canal house on Amsterdam's Keizersgracht overlooked by the annex the Frank family hid in during World War II. The former hiding place is now one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam.
There are fears that the trunk, which has a severe mould infection, could break and cause the tree to fall on the Anne Frank house and other surrounding buildings.
The steel frame to support the tree should be built "before March 31", Heertje said. It will cost an estimated 50,000 euros (70,000 dollars) to build and will cost 20,000 euros this year in upkeep and an additional 10,000 euros a year after that to maintain.
The construction will keep the tree upright for five to ten years but it is unsure what will happen after that.
"We are going to see if there are remedies and treatments for the fungus infection," Heertje said.
Almost a year ago the owner of the tree had already applied for and was given a felling permit for the chestnut but local residents objected to the plans.
In November the tree was due to be cut down but opponents obtained a last minute court ruling to stop that. The parties then agreed to mediation to find a solution.
The Anne Frank Foundation which manages the museum initially sided with the city and the owner and argued the tree should be felled, but said Wednesday it agreed to the deal.
"The security of the annex (Anne Frank's hiding place) is our primary concern. We would have been happier with the plan to fell the tree and plant a genetically identical graft as planned but we are satisfied with the solution that was found," Maartje Mostart of the Anne Frank Foundation told AFP.
Several grafts were taken from the chestnut and are being raised in a nursery to replace the old tree if it turns out it cannot be saved in ten years, Heertje said
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