The newly-crowned European Tree of the Year sheltered a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis, it has been revealed.

Poland’s Oak Josef, which also features on a banknote, topped a public poll with 17,597 votes after people were asked to nominate “trees with a story” to compete to be crowned the continent’s top tree.

The Oak Josef was used as a hide-out by the Jewish Hymi brothers, after they fled a nearby Nazi labour camp. They survived the German occupation but it is unknown what became of them after the war.

The UK’s entry, the giant Brimmon oak in Wales, which was saved from being felled for a bypass, was runner-up with 16,203 votes.

Jill Butler, Woodland Trust ancient tree adviser, said: “We came so close to claiming the European crown this year. It is incredibly heartening to see such support and love for a UK tree.

Polish bank note features the Oak that sheltered Jews in the Shoah

Polish bank note features the Oak that sheltered Jews in the Shoah