Frankfurt is a green city and trees are an integral part of the landscape. I’ve already described the Palmengarten and the Botanical garden, which both have wonderful specimens, as do the big parks. But these hulking wonders also line many of the streets – silent witnesses to years of human joys and follies. This summer the trees are threatened by the draught brought on by extremely hot weather and no rain (first signs of climate change?). Especially the 4500 young trees are at risk if there is insufficient rainfall.
But Frankfurt takes care of its trees. This summer the inhabitants were called upon to water the trees in front of their houses. As trees are ideal ‘environment partners’ the city of Frankfurt offers a tree free of charge to city dwellers who have a garden. And there is a ‘Baumkataster’ available: an online map with the name of many of the individual trees including the year they were planted. The picture to the left shows a screenshot of the Baumkataster. The two other photographs show the same area from the ground. According to the Baumkataster there is a gingko from 2012 , a maple from 1958, an oak tree from 1938, and the oldest I could find: a chestnut from 1845.
Trees also play a part in an art project along the Main river.I mentioned this in the blog ‘Shadows and wounds‘. An excerpt:
“‘Among us’ (Mitten unter uns), an interesting project to raise awareness and in memory of the victims of Katzbach. This concentration camp at the Adlerwerken in Frankfurt am Main was unknown to many. Nearly all 1600 prisoners were killed including survivors from the Warsaw uprising. Bands with the infamous blue and white stripes of the concentration camps, marked with the prisoner numbers and if known the names, are tied around trees within the inner city. In july 2015 a large number of these bands were cut off on purpose in what was probably a politically driven act. A passerby who saw the destruction tweeted about it and more than 500 people come over the next few days to restore what was broken. The artist, Stefanie Grohs ,wrote about it here and the Frunkfurter Rundschau here“
This week the bands were once again destroyed. On Friday 21st of August at the Eisernen Steg at 17.00 there will once again de a collective effort to repair the artwork. Anyone who wants to volunteer is welcome. Follow #mittenunteruns on twitter for more information.
The plant year of the plane trees featuring in this project varies from 1888 to 2002 according to the Baumkataster. And so after a few of them have stood the test of time they can now once again bear witness to both the incredibly creative and caring and the immensely ugly aspects of human nature.
8 thoughts on “Silent witnesses”
I really enjoyed reading this post — as something of a tree lover, I was encouraged to read that Frankfurt and its people also have a love of them. Just as the Frankfurt council gives a free tree, so too does the city council of the city in which I was born, Toowoomba, Australia). I am saddened that someone would damage such a solemn display on the trees — but I guess some people are in denial of historical facts.
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