There are many lovely trees in Russell Park, some for climbing on, some for playing hide and seek behind; many for picnicking under. And then there is one, other tree. At the far end of the park there is a small horse chestnut tree, with a plaque next to it. This is the Anne Frank Tree.
It was planted almost 15 years ago, on the 15th of May 2000, by the then mayor Carole Maxwell Elllis. It is, as the plaque says, a memorial to all children who died in war and conflict during the 2oth century.
In her diary, Anne mentions the horse chestnut tree that she can see from her attic window several times. On the 23rd Febuary 1944, six months before her secret hideout was discovered:
"From my favourite spot on the floor, I look up and see the blue sky and bare chestnut tree on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. When I looked outside and into the depth of nature and God, I was happy, really happy."
The horse chestnut in Russell Park is a small reminder of all of the children who were unlucky enough to be caught up in the conflicts of the 2oth Century. It also provides a place to gather and reflect on Holocaust Remembrance Day, held once a year on the 27th January.
It really is a remarkable tree.