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Anne Frank tree finds new home

Staff Writer | May 22, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — While the legacy of Anne Frank has endured, displays commemorating the life of the young writer who perished in the Holocaust have not.

After a tree memorializing Frank in a Coeur d’Alene park was believed to have been vandalized April 14, city officials have since replaced the tree and moved the memorial to a different park.

The memorial tree, a Japanese Stewartia, was originally planted in 2006 in G.O. Phippeny Park. Parks and Recreation crews discovered it broken in half April 15. City staff believe it was intentionally vandalized. A police report was filed, though no arrests have been made nor citations issued from the incident.

On Thursday morning, a new 12-foot-tall Japanese Stewartia was planted in McEuen Park near the children’s playground.

“I think, when it blooms, it’s going to be pretty striking,” said Coeur d’Alene urban forester Nick Goodwin. “It should pop in the next few weeks.”

Both the new Japanese Stewartia and its predecessor, along with their nearby stone inscriptions paying homage to Frank, were paid for by private donations.

“We spoke with the original donor,” Goodwin said. “She said she was OK with us moving it to McEuen. It’s near the playground. We feel like it will be easier to keep some eyes on it at McEuen. We tried to put it in a place with a decent camera view. Plus, it’s in a more prominent area, and more people will be able to appreciate it.”

Goodwin said the vacant plot where the tree once stood will be filled with something to beautify the park. Crews noticed April 15 the stone plaque in Phippeny Park was also damaged, though no one could say for certain if damage to the stone was the result of vandals or weather. A new plaque now sits alongside the McEuen Park tree.

Frank documented her childhood in hiding behind the walls of her father’s Amsterdam offices during World War II. After her capture by Nazi occupiers, she died in a concentration camp in 1945. Her writings, since titled The Diary of a Young Girl, were posthumously recovered, published and have sold more than 30 million copies.

Goodwin said his office will release public service announcements in the coming weeks about the tree’s backstory, the planting process and the cost and impact of public vandalism. The April 15 incident represented the third time the memorial was intentionally damaged.