New Anne Frank exhibit dedicated at Holocaust center in Farmington Hills

When Anne Frank looked out a window left uncovered in the attic of her secret hiding place in Amsterdam, she saw a chestnut tree that brought her solace.

Now, more than six decades later, people visiting the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills will be able to see a sapling from the same tree that the Jewish teenager wrote about in her diary during World War II as her family hid from the Nazis.

The sapling was planted several weeks ago, and on Sunday, the Viola and Garry Kappy Anne Frank Tree Exhibit and Garden was dedicated.

“Let this small sapling grow,” said Klaas van der Tempel, consul general of the Netherlands in Chicago. “Its history will remind us of what happened in the last century, and it will help us to resist discrimination in my country, in the United States and in the world.”

He said the tree became a symbol of freedom and nature not just to Anne, but to many people who read her diary after the war.

The Kappys of West Bloomfield made a donation for the exhibit and said it will help educate people about the Holocaust, which should never be forgotten.

The sapling will be seen by about 45,000 children from about 800 schools annually, said Stephen Goldman, the center’s executive director.

Irene Butter, a Holocaust survivor, crossed path with Anne several times, including when she was at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Barbed wire separated her from Anne.

“The only time you could communicate would be at night in the dark when the guards would not see us,” said 82-year-old Butter of Ann Arbor.

One night she and Hanneli Goslar, Anne’s close friend, all met at the fence.

“(Anne) was very thin and very pale and she had no clothing. All she had was a gray blanket wrapped around her.”

Anne asked them to throw over clothes, so they arranged to meet her the next evening.

“We threw over the bundle…She didn’t have her eyeglasses, she couldn’t see it in the dark,” Butter. “Another woman came picked up the bundle and ran off.”

One or two days later, Butter was freed from the camp. She found out years later that that Hanneli was able to get clothes to Anne, who later died.

Butter offered a message to the crowd attending the dedication: “Never be a bystander” saying Adolf Hilter could have never done what he did if there hadn’t been so many bystanders.

“What we do matters,” she told several hundred people gathered for the dedication. “Even what we don’t do matters.”

The Holocaust Memorial Center is one of 11 sites in the U.S. that received a sapling from the 150-year-old tree that Anne saw when she was in hiding.

“They were able to demonstrate, not only could they provide a wonderful home for the sapling … but that they shared a mission with us to teach Anne’s legacy through issues of tolerance and social justice,” said Rebecca Faulkner, special projects manager for Anne Frank Center U.S.A.

Anne’s journal has sold tens of millions of copies since it was first published in 1947 and has been printed in more than 70 languages, she said.

The original tree was hit by a storm in 2010.

“The storm was too much for the old tree,” van der Tempel said. “Never the less, it did survive the storm through it saplings.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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