“Strength, Joie de Vivre and a Love of Nature”

Netherlands State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport Visits Anne Frank Memorial.

KKL_221111_A (photo credit: KKL-JNF)
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Two Dutch officials, the Netherlands State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Netherlands Ambassador to Israel, recently paid a visit to the Anne Frank Memorial established by KKL-JNF in the Martyrs’ Forest in the Jerusalem Corridor, with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends in Holland. 
“Like Anne Frank’s diary, this beautiful memorial site conveys strength, joie de vivre and a love of nature, even though it tells the story of a great tragedy,” said Dutch State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport, Mrs. M.L.L.E. Veldhuijzen van Zanten-Hyllner.
This remarkable remembrance site was established in memory of the Jewish teenager who perished in the Holocaust after spending two years in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, together with the rest of her family. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, at the age of sixteen, but the diary she wrote survived and became one of the most moving documents to record the atrocities of the Holocaust, as viewed through the eyes of an adolescent girl. KKL
The memorial was originally dedicated on Holocaust Remembrance Day in May 2011, with the participation of prominent figures from Israel and abroad who had arrived specially to attend the ceremony. Among them were Professor Moshe Kon, President of KKL-JNF Holland and Mr. Eli Van Dam, CEO of KKL-JNF Holland. The site includes a unique memorial, a wall of appreciation to the site's donors and a woodland path bordered by a row of explanatory plaques describing the site and Anna Frank’s life, together with quotations from the famous diary. In her diary, Anne wrote extensively about the natural world, which she missed so acutely while in hiding.
As they walked along the path, the members of the Dutch delegation paused beside the plaques and read them, reflecting on the contrast between the terrible story they told and the pastoral tranquility of the beautiful forest.
“Anyone who is afraid, alone or unhappy can certainly find no better remedy than this: to wander somewhere in the bosom of nature, in a place where he is alone with the sky, the landscape and God, because only then does Man feel that everything is as it should be, and that God wants people to be happy. As long as that exists, I know that in every circumstance there is a comforter for every sorrow,” (from the Diary of Anne Frank, February, 1944).
“This beautiful and moving site communicates a sense of tranquility, even though it tells of appalling horrors,” said Netherlands Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp. “Anne Frank turned this vast tragedy into a personal story that everyone can identify with,” he added. “The diary was written in a cramped hiding place in a crowded city, and it speaks of the longing for nature and the open air. If Anne Frank had been able to come here to this forest, I’m sure she would have felt at home here.”
Throughout their visit, the guests heard explanations from KKL-JNF representatives Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Master of Ceremonies, and Yehudit Perl-Strasser of KKL-JNF's European Desk. Michelson spoke about the Martyrs’ Forest, where KKL-JNF has planted six million trees in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. In her speech, Perl-Strasser emphasized the wonderful cooperation with Friends of KKL-JNF in Holland.
 At the end of the path, the visitors reached the memorial, where a space has been designed to resemble a small room constructed of hollow steel. In one corner stands a single stool, too high to be sat on comfortably. Through a narrow aperture in the shape of a chestnut tree, the green landscape can be seen – freedom as viewed from within prison walls.
“This exhibit reflects the sensations of a person confined in a limited space and cut off from his surroundings, deprived of access to nature and forced into loneliness,” explained the memorial’s designer, Piet Cohen, who also spent part of his Dutch childhood in hiding from the Nazis.
The two Netherlands officials tried sitting on the metal stool in the corner of the room, and the emotions they experienced as they did so could clearly be read on their faces. “We have to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten and that it never repeats itself,” said van Zanten-Hyllner.
“Anne Frank’s story and sites like the one established by KKL-JNF are an excellent way to get members of the young generation to connect to this important chapter of history.”
This remarkable project is not yet complete, and Friends of KKL-JNF in Holland are busy raising additional funds that will be used to make the path at the Anne Frank Memorial wheelchair accessible, and to continue the development of a number of additional projects: the further construction of the scenic trail to a length of eight kilometers; protective flood banks along the Kisalon River, which flows nearby; and fire-prevention measures in the dense woodland.
At the end of the tour, after KKL-JNF representatives had presented her with a certificate of appreciation and a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank, the Dutch State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport told those present that she had recently paid a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and had been very moved to see that the chestnut tree mentioned in the diary, which fell down three years ago, had once again put forth green shoots. The old tree has not died, despite the fungus that has attacked it and the wind that has broken its trunk. Thus, too, the Jewish People continues to survive, despite all the horrors it has experienced.
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