Language News from Iowa

University of Iowa German Department Launches Major Multifaceted Anne Frank Commemoration Project

On April 29, 2022, a new tree was planted on the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest—a sapling propagated from the immense horse chestnut tree that grew in the courtyard behind the annex where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for 761 days during World War II. This living symbol of Anne’s spirit and humanitarian message is the 13th Anne Frank Sapling to be planted in the United States. The University of Iowa Pentacrest has long been a space for peaceful protest fighting for a more just world, sentiments that Anne often expressed in her diary.

For Anne, the tree became a friend. There was only one window through which she could see outside from the Amsterdam warehouse where she and her family hid for more than two years. In addition to birds and clouds, the top of the giant chestnut was the only thing visible from the attic window, and Anne wrote about the chestnut’s changing appearance and how much hope it gave her. Dr. Kirsten Kumpf Baele, a University of Iowa faculty member who studies Frank’s writing and that of other young people who endured the Holocaust, applied for the University of Iowa to receive a tree, and learned of the award in early 2020. The tree’s planting had been postponed due to the pandemic. Kumpf Baele and others who have helped to bring it to Iowa believe it will provide a similar reminder of hope and cross-cultural understanding for those who visit it and watch it grow.

Anne Frank’s account of her family’s time in hiding, The Diary of a Young Girl, was originally written in Dutch. Although Anne and her family were found and arrested, and Anne and all her family members other than her father died in Nazi concentration camps, her diary survived. It has since become an icon of world literature, which has been translated and read in more than 70 languages.

The planting of this tree was part of a year of events organized and sponsored by the University of Iowa German Department, aimed at recognizing the power of the written word to provide hope and resiliency in difficult times. Students who seek deeper understanding of Anne Frank and the Holocaust may take regularly scheduled courses presented by the German Department (Anne Frank and Her Story), History Department (Politics/Memory: Holocaust-Genocide-9/11), and the World Languages, Literature, and Culture Division (Holocaust Film and Literature).

The full list of organizational partners for this event shows extensive community involvement. Partners included the Agudas Achim Congregation, The Anne Frank Center USA, IC Speaks, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa Hillel, Iowa Youth Writing Project, Porchlight Literary Center, Prairie Lights Bookstore, University of Iowa Building and Landscape Services Facilities Management, University of Iowa Division of World Languages, Literature and Culture, University of Iowa Department of German, University of Iowa Old Capital Museum, and the University of Iowa School of Social Work. The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa served as hosting unit and sponsor for the planting.

For more information about this remarkable program and its associated events, see: https://uiannefranktree.com/

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Fanni is Radnóti's wife
Located near the Tang capital city of Chang’an, site of the modern city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, in central China.
Soldiers of that time commonly wore a white head cloth, similar to what is still worn by some peasants in China today.  The implication is that the conscripts were so young that they didn’t know how to wrap their head cloths, and needed help from elders.
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
The area of Guanxi, meaning “west of the passes”, refers to the area around the capital city of Chang’an.
This is an alternative name for a province in western China, now known as Qinghai, which literally means “blue sea”.  Kokonor Lake, located in Qinghai, is the largest saline lake in China.  
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
Oulart Hollow was the site of a famous victory of the Irish rebels over British troops, which took place on May 27, 1798. The rebels killed nearly all the British attackers in this battle. (Source: Maxwell, W. H. History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. H. H. Bohn, London 1854, pp 92-93, at archive.org)
The phrase "United Men" is elaborated upon in the Notes section below.

Ghetto


An Italian word meaning “foundry.” It originally referred to a part of the city of Venice where the Jews of that city were forced to live; the area was called “the ghetto” because there was a foundry nearby. The term eventually came to refer to any part of a city in which a minority group is forced to live as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Because of the restrictions placed upon them, ghetto residents are often impoverished.

"You’re five nine, I am do-uble two"


A reference to the year 1959 and the year 2020.

"The Currency"


Meaning US dollars - this is drawing attention to the fact that Cuba is effectively dollarized.

"Sixty years with the dom-ino stuck"


This sentence is a reference to the Cold War notion that countries would turn Communist one after the other - like dominos. Cuba was the first domino, but it got stuck - no one else followed through into communism.

رحلنا


رحلنا, or "rahalna," means "we have left."

Habibi


Habibi means "my love."

Ra7eel


Ra7eel, or "raheel," means "departure."

3awda


3awda, or "awda," means "returning."

أهلاً


أهلاً, or "ahalan," means "welcome."

a5 ya baba


a5 ya baba, pronounced "akh ya baba," means "Oh my father."

golpe


Treece translates "golpe" as "beating", which is correct, however misses the secondary meaning of the word: "coup".

Carlos


The “Carlos” referred to in the poem is most likely Carlos Bolsonaro, a politician from Rio de Janeiro and the second son of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president. His and his father’s involvement in Marielle’s murder has been questioned and investigated.