RVCC Dedicates Sapling from Original Tree Mentioned in Anne Frank’s Diary


RVCC Dedicates Sapling from Original Tree Mentioned in Anne Frank’s Diary

Friday, June 28, 2024
four people with tree sapling

Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) honored the legacy of Anne Frank and a very special local Holocaust survivor, the late Margit Feldman, at a ceremony held June 27. The event marked the dedication of a sapling that was grown from the horse chestnut tree that towered behind Anne Frank’s Secret Annex in Amsterdam. During the Holocaust, Anne and her family hid in the Annex for more than two years.

RVCC is one of six new recipients of these saplings from the Anne Frank Sapling Project, according to a recent announcement from the Anne Frank Center USA. The sapling planting is being supported through the College’s Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

“Raritan Valley Community College is incredibly honored to receive the sapling, a gift of the Anne Frank Center USA, and to remember Margit Feldman and recognize her work for the Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The ceremony at RVCC focusing on these two remarkable individuals inspires everyone to envision a better world, free from discrimination, where everyone feels safe, welcome, and respected,” said RVCC President Dr. Michael J. McDonough.

RVCC first applied to participate in the sapling project in May 2020, inspired by the memory of Margit Feldman, a survivor of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps and a co-founder of the College’s Holocaust Institute. Remarkably, Feldman was born on the same date as Anne Frank: June 12, 1929. Feldman passed away in April 2020.

A bench dedicated to Feldman has been placed next to the sapling, which has been planted on campus near the Christine Todd Whitman Science Center.

“Anne Frank, a young girl who went into hiding when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, found hope in nature. Anne specifically writes about the chestnut tree outside the attic window next to the Annex. This magnificent piece of history is now on our College campus, so that our students and the wider community may learn about the past and work toward a more hopeful future for generations to come,” said Michelle Edgar, Program Specialist for the Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The June 27 event included remarks from representatives of the Anne Frank Center USA, Margit Feldman’s family, and the Jewish Federation of West-Central New Jersey, as well as the College community. The Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies is a collaboration between RVCC and the Jewish Federation of West-Central New Jersey.

The Tree in Anne’s Diary

From her only window to the outside world, Anne Frank could see the sky, birds, and a majestic chestnut tree. “As long as this exists,” she wrote in her diary, “how can I be sad?”

Anne Frank wrote about her beloved chestnut tree in three separate diary entries in 1944, marking the changing of the seasons as she and others hid from the Nazis.

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, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn’t speak.”

April 18, 1944

“April is glorious, not too hot and not too cold, with occasional light showers. Our chestnut tree is in leaf, and here and there you can already see a few small blossoms.”

May 13, 1944

“Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.”

In a 1968 speech, Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, spoke about the impact of the chestnut tree on his youngest daughter. “How could I have known,” he asked, “how much it meant to Anne to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the seagulls as they flew, and how important the chestnut tree was for her, when I think that she never showed any interest in nature.” “Still,” he acknowledged, “she longed for it when she felt like a bird in a cage.”

Project History

The Sapling Project began in 2009 with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam’s efforts to preserve the original chestnut tree by gathering and germinating chestnuts and donating the saplings to organizations dedicated to Anne Frank’s memory.

Despite efforts to strengthen the original chestnut tree, the aged, diseased tree toppled in a windstorm in 2010. It was one of the oldest chestnut trees in Amsterdam.

Over the last 10 years, Anne Frank Center USA has awarded saplings to sites across the United States, including the U.S. Capitol, the United Nations Headquarters, and others. Taken together, these trees form a living memorial with branches reaching from coast to coast.

About Anne Frank Center USA

The Anne Frank Center USA traces its roots to the efforts of Otto Frank in the 1950s to raise funds to support the restoration of Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. He established the Anne Frank Foundation in New York as a fundraising organization dedicated to this purpose. The Anne Frank Foundation evolved into the Anne Frank Center USA, securing official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in New York in 1977. AFC USA, which is still based in New York, functions as a decentralized organization. This makes it possible for the organization to remain nimble and responsive in a rapidly changing world. Over the past year, programs of AFC USA have reached hundreds of thousands of students in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

About Anne Frank

Born on June 12, 1929, Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager from Frankfurt, Germany who was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust. She and her family, along with four others, spent over two years during World War II hiding in an annex of rooms on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, today known as the Anne Frank House. After being betrayed to the Nazis, Anne, her family, and the others living with them were arrested and deported to Nazi concentration camps. In March of 1945, seven months after she was arrested, Anne Frank died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She was 15 years old.

About The Diary of a Young Girl

Since it was first published in 1947, Anne Frank's diary has become one of the most powerful memoirs of the Holocaust. Its message of courage and hope in the face of adversity has reached millions. The diary has been translated into more than 70 languages with over 30 million copies sold. Anne Frank's story is especially meaningful to young people today. For many she is their first, if not their only exposure to the history of the Holocaust.

About RVCC

Ranked by WalletHub.com, Intelligent.com, and CollegeEvaluator.com as the #1 community college in New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 50 years. The College has been nationally recognized for its service to the community, environmental stewardship, and commitment to diversity. It is home to  a Planetarium, Science Education Institute, and 3M Observatory; a Theatre offering professional performances for all ages; and an Honors College for high achieving students. The College offers approximately 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training and professional development courses. RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.





June 28, 2024

Media contact: Donna Stolzer, 908-526-1200, ext. 8383

PR #126