The memorial tree, which was originally planted in 2009, now has a plaque alongside, serving as a reminder to all, regarding its significance
The plaque is one of the first examples of the work of the ‘We Are Bristol History Commission’, which was set up by Mayor Marvin Rees, who was also in attendance at the unveiling. The commission, introduced in September 2020, was created in the wake of the pulling down of the Edward Colston statue in the city. According to the local government’s website, the commission comprises a group of people who have three key aims: ‘To ‘help Bristol better understand its history and how it became the city it is today’, to ‘work with citizens and community groups to make sure that everyone in the city can share their views on Bristol’s history’, and to ‘build an improved, shared understanding of Bristol’s story for future generations’.
The plaque was designed and delivered by local and national organisations and charities, including the Anne Frank Trust UK, Bristol & West Progressive Jewish Congregation and the Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day steering group, in partnership with Bristol City Council.
Commission chair, professor Tim Cole, who was also present, spoke of the importance of this piece of history, commenting, ‘We are saying something about today. We are saying something about the kind of city we are today. And the kind of city that we want to be’.
Mayor Rees also spoke at the event, and paid tribute to Anne, saying, ‘Anne Frank is remembered as one of the greatest writers in human history. Today’s event rightly celebrated her life and words, while mourning the loss of Anne and some 1.5 million Jewish children killed by the Nazi regime. He added, ‘We will continue working together to build a Bristol where we understand our history and learn from it, to ensure a future free from antisemitism, prejudice, and discrimination’.
The unveiling of the plaque, which took place this week, also included a short speech from Nine-year-old Elinor Rose Beard, who spoke of this inspirational figure. Elinor said, ‘When I have Anne by my side, I am not afraid. If she lasted through her terrifying experience for as long as she did, then what I’m scared of looks easy’.
The plaque itself explains that the date of the planting of the tree in 2009 would have coincided with Anne Frank’s 80th birthday. The inscription goes on to detail Anne’s fondness of chestnut trees, hence the planting of a tree as a reminder of her life. The plaque concludes with a quote from one of Anne’s diary entries: ‘How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’.
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