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CSM to Host Anne Frank Tree-Planting Ceremony

Thursday, April 4, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. – College of Saint Mary will host a tree-planting ceremony after the University was chosen as one of six recipients of saplings grown from Anne Frank’s horse chestnut tree that towered behind the Secret Annex in Amsterdam. CSM was chosen by the Anne Frank Center USA, an organization honoring the legacy of Anne Frank.

The ceremony will be held in the space on the east side of the Hillmer Art Gallery at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 26, which is also Arbor Day in Nebraska. A reception will follow in the CSM library. Among those attending the event will be Lauren Bairnsfather, chief executive officer of the Anne Frank Center USA.

“We feel a profound sense of gratitude for being selected to receive a sapling cultivated from Anne Frank’s beloved chestnut tree,” CSM President Heather Smith said. “It is a privilege to be entrusted with this living tribute, and we eagerly anticipate its profound impact as a symbol of resilience, hope and remembrance.”

With each sapling planted, the center shares Anne Frank’s love of nature with organizations across its coalition that are committed to honoring Anne Frank’s memory through education, free expression and belief in humanity.

Mark Gudgel, assistant professor of education, spearheaded CSM’s effort to be considered a site for one of the saplings. He said it is fitting that an institution dedicated to the education of young women should be the home of this tribute to the Holocaust.

“The mission of our university is deeply rooted in the values of the Sisters of Mercy and both align brilliantly with Anne Frank’s legacy and the incredible work that she has inspired throughout the world,” said Gudgel, who teaches a course on the Holocaust in film and literature. “College of Saint Mary is deeply honored; we are dedicated to being excellent stewards of the tree as it grows, eager to receive visitors, and committed to furthering the legacy of Anne Frank by continuing to provide young women with an education that will help them to become leaders in this world.”

Registration for the ceremony is recommended but not required. For more information or to register, go to

Other locations receiving a sapling are Anne Frank LA, Los Angeles, CA; Community Day School, Pittsburgh, PA; Gratz College, Melrose Park, PA; Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center, White Plains, NY; and Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, NJ.

From her only window to the outside world, Anne Frank could see the sky, birds, and a majestic chestnut tree. “As long as this exists,” she wrote in her diary, “how can I be sad?”

Anne Frank wrote about her beloved chestnut tree in three separate diary entries in 1944, marking the changing of the seasons as she and others hid from the Nazis.