Anne Frank tree planted at Solihull School

Holocaust survivor plants sapling of remembrance.

A sapling taken from the tree that Anne Frank could see from her hiding place in Amsterdam has been planted at Solihull School on Remembrance Day by a survivor from Auschwitz, which was liberated seventy years ago.

It was planted by Mindu Hornick (85), who was the same age as the young Anne Frank, who died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp only a few weeks before it was liberated. Mindu was just 12 years old when she was sent to the notorious Nazi extermination camp with her mother, sister and two younger brothers. She arrived at Auschwitz in a cattle carriage, but survived along with her older sister Eva after a Polish prisoner advised the girls to lie about their ages and claim they were skilled seamstresses. Her mother and two young brothers were all killed.

The tree planting was the idea of 17-year-old Solihull School pupil Holly Krober, who was so moved by her school trip to Auschwitz concentration camp – accompanied by the head girl Leticia Salmon and fellow pupils Arjan Baines and Victoria Newbery – that she was determined to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. “I was so overawed by what I saw that I wanted to educate others of my generation and future generations that we might all learn from the lessons of the past. My pledge was that I would buy a tree that would be planted at school in remembrance of the Holocaust and all victims of racial hatred and genocide,” said Holly.

“It was then I heard about the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation, which has grown saplings from the original horse chestnut tree that Anne could see through the attic window and I thought it would be wonderful if we could have a sapling from this original tree, but with so few to go round I thought it was a very long shot.”

She contacted the foundation and asked if there was any possibility of receiving a treasured sapling. “I was absolutely thrilled and amazed when they said that we could! So Solihull School will become custodians of an Anne Frank sapling, which we hope and pray will continue to flourish as a symbol of remembrance, hope and reconciliation for many, many years to come.

“Anne was about my age when she died but her short life, as chronicled in her famous diary, will live on. Generations of pupils, their families and teachers will look at this tree and remember her, and the tens of thousands of other murdered children like her,” she said.

Only a handful of these saplings exist, mainly in the United States, and this one is only the second such tree in Britain.

The planting was particularly poignant as it’s the 70th anniversary of the liberation of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp in which Anne Frank died only weeks before British troops captured the camp.

Headmaster David Lloyd said: “This is an amazing thing for Holly to have done and the whole school is full of admiration for her immense achievement. The tree will stand as a lasting memorial to those who lost their lives and an inspiration for generations to come.”