The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Green space in Haren to be named after Anne Frank

 Illustration picture taken during a royal visit to the exhibition called ' La maison d'Anne Frank ' in Stavelot Abbey, Monday 20 April 2015. (BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE)
06:03 04/05/2021

A green space in Haren, little more than one hectare in size but one known for its remarkable biodiversity, will soon take the name of one of the most famous victims of the Holocaust.

In a decision that will be officially taken next week at the municipal council of the City of Brussels, the discreet beech wood, wedged between Chaussée de Haecht and Rue Arthur Maes, will be named after Anne Frank, the young Jewish teenager who wrote a diary about her life in Amsterdam under the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

It will be the first time the Brussels region names a place in tribute to Anne Frank, who died in 1945, at the age of 15, in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There is an Anne Frank square in Tournai, an Anne Frank boarding school in Tubize, and an Anne Frank square in Hasselt but nothing in the capital of Europe.

"The idea is not a new one, it dates back to 2005 when the decision was made to feminise public spaces and especially green areas,” said Zoubida Jellab, Brussels councillor responsible for green spaces.

Four names were chosen at the time: novelist Marguerite Yourcenar for Parc d’Egmont, playwright Marguerite Duras for Square des Blindés, political activist Simone de Beauvoir for Parc Fontainas and Anne Frank. The first three names were assigned. The fourth proposal remained a symbolic option, but a space was never decided upon – until now, some 15 years later.

The wood is commonly referred to as Arthur Maes Park, after the street that runs along one of its sides, bearing the name of the last mayor of Haren before its annexation to the City of Brussels in 1921. "First of all, we were talking about naming a park after Anne Frank,” said Zoubida Jellab. “Finally, we decided on a wood, rather than a park."

"We will ask visitors to respect the paths and not trample the flora,” added Jellab. “It will be a real place of calm, of peace, to take a breath in a district that is becoming more and more dense, and which does not have many accessible green spaces, which is flown over by planes, and which has busy streets and railway tracks."

This wood is not owned by the City of Brussels but by the federal state which agreed to pass the management of the site over to the capital.

Until recently, the wood has been neglected and has become the site of dumping and fly-tipping. Efforts have been made to stop this and the wood has undergone an intensive cleaning operation to remove the rubbish and clear dead and dying trees.

While some paths have been laid, the municipal gardeners will maintain the wood but will do as little as necessary not to further disrupt the fauna and flora. No playgrounds or picnic tables will be installed out of respect for the biodiversity in the wood.

Residents will be informed by post of the final approval of the wood’s new name. An official access point on Chaussée de Haecht will be opened, and a plaque will be affixed to the entrance bearing Anne Frank's name.

Written by Nick Amies