Anne Frank Memorial Dedicated in Martyrs' Forest

The Dutch ambassador to Israel, H.E. Michiel den Hond, said that it was appropriate that the Anne Frank memorial was dedicated on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day connected to memory: "Although Anne Frank has become a symbol of the Holocaust, we must remember that she was a person of flesh and blood with a keen eye and a sharp pen.

Anne frank 1 (photo credit: KKL)
Anne frank 1
(photo credit: KKL)
"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God…As long as this exists…I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles."
                                                                                 Anne Frank, February 23, 1944
On Monday, May 2, Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, dignitaries and guests from Israel and abroad assembled in the Forest of the Martyrs in the Jerusalem hills for the dedication of the new Anne Frank memorial, a gift of friends of KKL-JNF Holland, led by its president, Professor Moshe Kon, and its CEO, Mr. Eli Van Dam.

Anne Frank (1929-1945) hid in Amsterdam with her family during the German occupation of the Netherlands and died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Miep Gies, a family friend, found Anne's diary and gave it to her father after the war. It became one of the most widely read books in the world.
The Dutch ambassador to Israel, H.E. Michiel den Hond, said that it was appropriate that the Anne Frank memorial was dedicated on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day connected to memory: "Although Anne Frank has become a symbol of the Holocaust, we must remember that she was a person of flesh and blood with a keen eye and a sharp pen. She was robbed of her freedom, her dreams, hopes and aspirations. She gave a face to an endless suffering. This monument is not only for a whole people, but also for individuals. Anne Frank died, not because of what she did, but because of who she was – a Jew."
Mr. Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman, asked to read words he had written to Anne Frank: "Dear Anne: 69 years have passed since you and your family entered the hidden apartment in Amsterdam. It may be true that the forces of evil captured your body, but they could not take your soul.
"Dear Anne, I am sorry to tell you that the chestnut tree that you loved so much, which grew outside the window of your hiding place, is no more. It fell in a winter storm; perhaps it grew weak from a broken heart. But we have chosen to build a memorial for you in the heart of the forest – not just one chestnut tree, but six million trees that KKL-JNF planted in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. You are with us now in nature, which you loved so much, commemorated for all time under the cloudless blue skies of Israel.
"We though that after the Holocaust, Israel's War of Independence will be our last war. But no. Even after 63 years of independence, there are still those whose only goal is to destroy Israel, and who deny that the Holocaust ever took place. But no Holocaust denier can ever erase what you wrote in your diary. We are one nation, with one destiny and one goal. With the help of JNF Holland and our excellent team here in Israel, we have brought a message of hope to the entire world."     
Professor Moshe Kon, president of KKL-JNF Holland, quoted Anne Frank: "'I want to go on living, even after my death.' Anne Frank wrote these words before she was betrayed and arrested. Today, her wish has been granted. Her diary has been translated into 75 languages and 35 million people have read it.
"In 1960, her father, Otto Frank, planted the first tree in KKL-JNF's Anne Frank Memorial Park. Several years ago, JNF Holland decided to raise funds to renew the park, to tell the story of human behavior and heroism. We wanted to create a place for meditation in nature by people of all creeds and colors. My father was deported to Auschwitz. My mother was hidden and betrayed, just like Anne Frank. Let the Anne Frank Memorial be a place for reflection, so that the atrocities of the Holocaust never be repeated."
Mr. Christoph Knoch, the director of the Anne Frank Foundation of Basel, Switzerland, noted that Anne Frank was an icon the world over: "I am grateful for this memorial, which projects a blessing of peace between people. I would also like to mention Anne's sister, Margaret, whose dream was to become a midwife in the Land of Israel. My organization has donated 100 trees in Margaret's memory.
"I am a Protestant preacher, and I always remind my congregants that remembrance is an important concept in the Bible. We must remember the six million and know that it is our duty to treat all human beings with respect, for they were created in the likeness of the Almighty. As Anne wrote in her diary: 'Surely the time will come when we are normal human beings again, and not just Jews.'"
Professor Kon had very unique gifts to present to the Dutch ambassador, the KKL-JNF World Chairman, Mr. Christoph Knoch and Mr. Ronald Leopold, CEO of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam: "We wanted to do something special for those who contributed towards making the Anne Frank memorial a reality. Before the chestnut tree collapsed in the storm, we had asked a neighbor to save chestnuts from the tree. We encased them in perplex, numbered them, and inscribed something from Anne's diary on each encasement."
Mr. Ronald Leopold, CEO of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, said that he found it very interesting to learn that the Anne Frank Forest was first planted in 1960: "1960 was the same year that Anne Frank House was opened, and it was also the year I was born, so I must be very connected. The house is empty, which was the request of Anne's father, Otto. We have over 1,000,000 visitors annually, about 85% of them from abroad. I'm very excited to be attending this event at such a wonderful and beautiful site."
After the first part of the ceremony was completed, Mr. Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Head of Protocol, who emceed the ceremony, invited the audience to walk down the forest trail for the unveiling of the Anne Frank memorial. Along the way, six plaques, each with a Holocaust-related quote, were unveiled by KKL-JNF General Manager Ms. Yael Shealtieli, Mr. Avi Dickstein KKL-JNF Executive Director of Resources and Development Division, members of the Board of JNF Holland, and a representative of the Mateh Yehudah Regional Council. Dutch and Israeli schoolchildren read the quotes inscribed on the plaques.
After the memorial was unveiled by Professor Kon, Efi Stenzler, Eli van Dam and Christoph Knoch, Mr. Piet Cohen, the designer, spoke about what the sculpture meant for him: "I am honored to have been chosen to design this memorial, but I could not have accomplished this feat without the help and support of the head of KKL-JNF's Scandinavian Desk, Ms. Yehudit Perl-Strasser, and KKL-JNF Landscape Architecture and Deputy Director of Central Region, Yehiel Cohen and his team.
"I know the feelings Anne Frank felt, because I, too, spent the Second World War in hiding, and I was saved, as were my parents and six brothers and sisters. My intention when positioning the memorial in the forest was to change the natural beauty of the site as little as possible. The memorial is in the form of a room made of rusted steel. In its corner is a lone stool, from which the viewer can see the iconic chestnut tree with its expansive branches against an impervious wall, suggesting imprisonment, while glimpsing elusive freedom."
At the end of the ceremony, copies of Anne Frank's Diary in Hebrew and Dutch were given as gifts to everyone who was present.
The following are the words from Anne Frank's diary that inspired Piet Cohen to create the memorial:
"As luck would have it, I'm only able - except for a few rare occasions – to view nature through dusty curtains tacked over dirt-caked windows; it takes the pleasure out of looking. Nature is the one thing for which there is no substitute!"
                                                                                                  Anne Frank, June 1944

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