On February 23, 1944, a 15-year-old girl gazed from an attic window at the topmost branches of a tree. The tree had become a sort of friend to her, a reminder of life beyond the small space to which she was confined and one of the few things she could see from the only window that was not blacked out. In her diary that day, she wrote, “I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists…and I may live to see it, this sunshine, these cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy.” Those words represent the hope that has made their author, Anne Frank, one of the major figures of World War II and a ubiquitous symbol of optimism in the face of unthinkable darkness.
On April 29, 2022, the thirteenth Anne Frank Tree will be planted on the northeast corner of the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest. Its arrival is due to the work of Frank scholar and UI German Department faculty member Dr. Kirsten Kumpf Baele. Her proposal to bring a tree to Iowa City was accepted a year and a half ago by the Anne Frank Center USA; however, the pandemic postponed the original planting ceremony, which is now slated for April 29, 2022.