When you think about trees you probably think of the words “green”, “photosynthesis”, “shade” etc. But what if I told you trees have the power to start a war or even prevent one? Or that they can actually save your life?
Intrigued? Well I’ve got just the list for you starting with:

5. We probably all know Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who wrote that now-famous diary while in hiding during Hitler’s tyranny. But you probably didn’t know how a tree right outside their window actually encouraged her to live. Here’s an excerpt from her diary:
“From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine…As long as this exists…this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”

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To which her father, upon reading it for the first time, said:
“…Still, she longed for it (nature) when she felt like a bird in a cage. Only the thought of the freedom of nature gave her comfort…”
Isn’t it amazing how presumably the littlest things can encourage you, even at the face of hopelessness? Unfortunately in 2010, a storm destroyed the “Anne Frank tree”, though saplings from the original tree were saved and are now planted in Boston.

4. Following the Battle of Worcester in 1651, King Charles II of England saw defeat and was forced to flee for his life from Oliver Cromwell’s forces. He found refuge at Boscobel House and hid in a nearby oak tree. Later on, he recalled that one Parliamentarian soldier even passed under it while he was hiding.

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He went on to hide in a priest-hole in the Boscobel House’s attic. He managed to escape and reach France safely and remained in exile until 1660. He was restored to the throne, two years after Cromwell’s death.
Don’t you think that tree ought to be knighted?

3. These trees should be commended for being so sturdy that they actually made a ninja out of a person.

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This is Sven Somme, a spy for the Norwegian Resistance when the Germans invaded Norway in 1940. He was found out by German soldiers when they saw sunlight reflected off his lens while photographing a U-boat base in Otteroy. He hid his camera under a rock as they ran towards him, firing shots. Although he was able to talk his way out of it, they eventually found his camera and captured him. Luckily, he escaped and trekked for 200 miles on the snowy mountains, even swinging on pine trees so as not to leave any traces, until he finally reached neutral Sweden.
Oh, did I mention 900 enemy soldiers with sniffer dogs were after him?

2. Moving on to crazy and ingenious, here’s something that might astound you:

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No? Actually, this is a fake tree made out of steel and wrought iron, used to disguise observation posts (O.P.) on the Western Front during World War I. It contained a small seat and internal scaffolding allowing an observer/sniper to ascend within the post. In those days, the British would send volunteer artists to sketch/photograph trees (usually severely damaged by bombings) in no man’s land and would take them to a workshop to manufacture fake trees. At night, a team would replace the original with the O.P. tree. The fake trees were so successful that not one was detected by the enemies.

And you thought tree costumes were only good for Halloween, ha.

1. This brings us to the most ridiculous of them all: In 1976, at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea stood a tree that almost took us to World War III. How? Apparently the tree was blocking the view making it somehow impossible to see an incoming attack. So the South Koreans along with their U.S. ally decided to trim the tree. Unfortunately, the North Koreans didn’t like the idea, which led to the killing of two American soldiers. The US responded with Operation Paul Bunyan and, along with South Koreans, sent 813 men to finish the job along with C-130s, helicopters, even martial experts!

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The North Korea responded with 150-200 troops complete with artillery but backed down upon seeing how undermanned they are. Later that day, Kim Il-Sung expressed regret at what happened previously but did not take responsibility.
Meanwhile, the tree has been successfully trimmed.

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Who would’ve thought simple garden trees can actually play some weird and awesome roles in history? They’re not just for shade or air-filtration; as you’ve seen, they have the capability to save a life or give hope to the hopeless (not trying to be dramatic here). Think about that the next time you pass by one. Heck, maybe even give a salute.