The Planting of the Anne Frank Tree at the foot of Jann Nunn’s Holocaust + Genocide Memorial Sculpture, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California, USA
More than 70 years ago an intelligent, vivacious young girl in Amsterdam went into hiding from the Nazis. Leaving behind her friends, her school, her beloved cat, her entire carefree world- one of the few possessions she carried was her diary.
For over 2 years Anne Frank’s diurnal musings chronicled her life in exile- her hopes and dreams- threatened by intolerance and hatred. The great Chestnut tree standing guard behind the secret annex was her limited link to the life of which she was robbed and wished so desperately to return. For Anne, this tree was a sentinel of hope from the tyranny of war and from impending, and inevitable, doom.
Anne’s famous diary put a tangible face on the millions of innocent lives,
like hers, destroyed by the Holocaust. Anne’s story is the story of everychild.
For generations, it has been the seminal text for educating young people
about the horrors of genocide.
7 years ago, I was asked by Dr. Elaine Leeder to make a proposal for a Holocaust + Genocide Memorial here at Sonoma State so that present and future generations would be educated and forever reminded of the tragedy of genocide.
After months of planning, copious research, dreaming, and revisions, I arrived at a proposal for the sculpture you see here today. For many families this is the only physical place their lost loved ones are memorialized.
For over 2 years of long days in the studio and intense periods of fabrication, my crew and I completed the monument. It was dedicated in March of 2009.
But it was the Anne Franks of the world; those whose lives were mercilessly and needlessly destroyed by genocide that kept me going. This tree, like the memorial sculpture, is a symbol of hope for a better future- for a world free of intolerance and hatred.
Anne Frank, and the Foundation that bears your name, I am honored to have this symbol of your spirit, a symbol of you, that will live and thrive- standing sentinel at the foot of my sculpture.
I am truly humbled.
April 14, 2013