Obj. ID: 48042
Modern Jewish Art Anne Frank Memorial Tree in Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Anne Frank Tree
Who is Commemorated?
Anne Frank, and victims of intolerance and discrimination
In a grassy area of the park, there is planted a tree, in front of which there is a small bronze plaque set on a concrete base. The original horse chestnut tree died in the Alabama climate and was replaced by an American beech tree. The site is close to the 16th Street Baptist Church, where a bomb exploded on September 15, 1963, as church members prepared for Sunday services. The placing of the Anne Frank tree was a deliberate way to also remember the four young girls - 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old Cynthia Wesley who were killed in the bombing In 2013, a sculptural work representing and commemorating the four girls was installed in the park, close to the Anne Frank tree.
How wonderful it is that nobody
need wait a single moment before
starting to improve the world
Anne Frank, age 15, March 26, 1944
This Horse Chestnut tree is dedicated to
Victims of intolerance and discrimination
April 11, 2010
The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center,
Jewish Community Relations Council,
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,
16th Street Baptist Church,
Birmingham Parks and Recreation
Birmingham Public Library.
United States of America (USA) | Alabama | Birmingham, AL
| Kelly Ingram Park
Living tree (horse chestnut (2010) replaced by American beech tree in 2020)
The Anne Frank tree is a tribute based on references Anne made in her diary to the chestnut tree she looked upon and wrote about. “As long as this exists”, Anne wrote in her diary, “how can I be sad?” The tree outlived Anne, but after being weakened by disease, it fell in a storm in 2010. Dozens of saplings were propagated, however, in the months before the tree’s end.
From Southern Jewish Life (March 18, 2021):
When the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect announced that 11 would be made available in the U.S., Joel Rotenstreich figured that Birmingham's civil rights district would perfectly align with the message of Anne Frank. Kelly Ingram Park, known as "a place of revolution and reconciliation," and a focal point of the 1963 demonstrations, was the obvious choice, especially as it is across the street from 16th Street Baptist Church, where four girls were killed in a Klan bombing on Sept. 15, 1963.
The proposal was made by a coalition of Birmingham Jewish and civil rights organizations, including the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham Parks and Recreation, and the Birmingham Public Library. They were turned down.
Undeterred, Rotenstreich figured that if the city wasn’t going to receive one of the saplings from Amsterdam, they would get their own horse chestnut tree. With the approval of the Anne Frank Center, they set out to find one that could be transported to Birmingham and planted in time for the 2010 Holocaust commemoration.”
Among the sites for the original saplings were the Sept. 11 memorial in New York City, the U.S. Capitol, and Holocaust centers in Seattle, Idaho, and Michigan. In this region, saplings were dedicated at the Clinton Presidential Center and Central High School in Little Rock.
In a twist of irony, the saplings had to be quarantined for at least three years upon arrival in the U.S., so Birmingham had its Anne Frank Tree years before anyone else did.
Representatives from the six organizations participated in the original dedication. Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was blinded by the blast at the church that took the life of her sister Addie Mae Collins, was also on hand for the event along with many Holocaust survivors.
In recent years, though, it became evident that Alabama’s climate is not conducive to the survival of horse chestnut trees, and the tree died. On Dec. 9 , a new American beech was planted at the same site, with Rotenstreich supervising.”
“Replanted Anne Frank Tree to be re-dedicated at Alabama Holocaust commemoration,” Southern Jewish Life,, https://sjlmag.com/2021/03/18/replanted-anne-frank-tree-to-be-re-dedicated-at-alabama-holocaust-commemoration/ (accessed February 27, 2023)
“Story behind Birmingham's Anne Frank Tree should be shared through national monument, local leader says,” Birmingham Real Time News, Feb. 05, 2017