Timmermans honours Anne Frank in Washington

‘This tree reminds us that we must always continue to fight for justice, tolerance and human rights.’ Foreign minister Frans Timmermans made this statement on Capitol Hill in Washington last Wednesday at the dedication ceremony for a sapling of the Anne Frank tree. The ceremony was organised by John Boehner, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

The young tree is the offspring of a horse chestnut that stood outside Anne Frank’s window in Amsterdam. ‘This tree keeps Anne Frank’s legacy alive,’ said Mr Timmermans. A total of 11 shoots of the original tree will be planted throughout the US. Saplings have already been planted in New York, Indiana and Michigan.

The Anne Frank tree on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Earlier in the day the minister visited Arlington National Cemetery to honour American soldiers who lost their lives in the Second World War. ‘They died for the freedom of Europe, and thus for the freedom of America, and the world as a whole,’ Mr Timmermans said in his tribute.

At the cemetery he told the story of Leo Lichten, an American soldier who died in the war and is buried at the Netherlands-American Cemetery in Margraten. Years later, Mr Timmermans adopted the grave, an act that prompted a personal quest to learn about the life and history of this serviceman.

In his speech the minister referred to the unbreakable bond between the US and Europe. ‘That bond is strong thanks to shared values like democracy, upholding the rule of law and respect for human rights. Our societies are also connected through economic ties and the wish to trade and invest across of the ocean.’

Mr Timmermans is in Washington for a three-day visit to strengthen transatlantic relations and commemorate the victims of the Second World War.

After that, he will travel on to Canada, where he will visit Ottawa on 1 and 2 May.

Mr Timmermans at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.