The chestnut tree

In the period of over two years (6 July 1942 to 4 August 1944) that Anne Frank spent in hiding in the Secret Annex, nature and her longing for freedom played an ever greater role. Through a window in the attic that was not blacked out, Anne could see the sky, birds and the chestnut tree. She wrote about the tree in her diary three times, the last time on 13 May 1944.

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

Thought of the freedom of nature

During a speech in 1968 Otto Frank described his thoughts when he read Anne’s diary for the first time: 'How could I have known 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, she longed for it when she felt like a bird in a cage. Only the thought of the freedom of nature gave her comfort. But she kept all those feelings to herself.'

‘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.’


The tree, a white horse chestnut, was over 170 years old, and stood in the courtyard garden of number 188 Keizersgracht. It was one of the oldest chestnut trees in Amsterdam. When in 2005 it was found that the tree was suffering from a serious disease, the Anne Frank House decided, with the permission of the owner, to gather chestnuts, germinate them, and donate the saplings to schools named after Anne Frank and other organisations. Many Anne Frank Schools and other organisations and locations around the world have now been given a young tree. In 2009, 150 descendents of the tree were donated to the Amsterdamse Bos woodland park. In 2013, after three years in quarantine, the last young trees from the Anne Frank House seedling project were planted in the USA.

Tree has fallen

On 23 August 2010 around 13.30 hours the chestnut tree that Anne Frank wrote about in her diary fell down, together with its iron supporting construction. The tree broke off completely at a height of approximately one meter above the ground. Fortunately nobody was injured.