A new book that suggests a Jewish-Dutch notary gave Anne Frank’s location to save his own family is in publication limbo due to uncertainty over its main evidence.
“The Betrayal of Anne Frank” caused a stir when it was released on January 18, with the premise of the book being the result of a six-year cold case investigation to find out who gave the Frank family away during the Holocaust.
After hiding in a secret annex in a canal-side warehouse in Amsterdam for around two years, the Franks were finally tracked down by the Gestapo in August 1944. The Nazis then deported the entire Frank family to the concentration camp of Auschwitz.
Anne Frank – who died aged 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she had been transferred with her sister – wrote her world famous diary while living in hiding in Amsterdam. This diary was later published by his father Otto Frank in 1947 and is one of the main accounts of Jewish life under the Nazis.
In January, the investigative team looking for the origins of the betrayal named a Dutch-Jewish man, Arnold van den Bergh, as the person who reported the whereabouts of the Frank family to the Nazis.
Van den Bergh, a notary in Amsterdam, allegedly handed over a list of Jewish hiding places in Amsterdam to the German occupiers in order to save his own family. Among them was the address of the Prinsengracht scullery in Amsterdam where Anne Frank resided.
But now that theory is being challenged, forcing the Dutch publishers of ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank’ to stop printing the book.
Frank’s betrayal theory may not stack up
Although cold case investigators included former US FBI agent Vincent Pankoke and about 20 historians, criminologists and data scientists, some have questioned the evidence, which comes down to a single anonymous letter. Received by Otto Frank, he pointed to Van den Bergh as a member of the Jewish Council who had received preferential treatment from the Nazis for giving away the hiding places of his fellow Jews.
Johannes Houwink ten Cate, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies in Amsterdam, told the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad that there is no evidence that the Jewish Council compiled lists of addresses of hiding places for Jews in World War II.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in 35 years of research,” he said. Major charges require a lot of evidence, Houwink ten Cate said, “and there is none”. He added that van den Bergh himself had gone into hiding for much of 1944.
John Goldsmith, the head of the Anne Frank Fund set up by Otto Frank, told Swiss newspaper Blick am Sonntag that the investigation was “full of errors” and akin to a “conspiracy theory”.
Amsterdam historian Ben Wallet told German news magazine Der Spiegel that the investigators’ evidence was “as fragile as a house of cards”.
Bart van der Boom of Leiden University called the findings “defamatory nonsense”.
Hanging Book Printing
According to an internal email seen by Reuters news agency, Ambo Anthos, the publisher of the Dutch edition of ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank’, has now written to the book’s Canadian author, Rosemary Sullivan, as well as to the investigative team to say the house should have taken a ‘more critical stance’ on the publication.
“We are awaiting responses from researchers to questions that have emerged and are delaying a decision to print another series,” the email read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone who may feel offended by the book.”
One of the investigators quoted in the book, Pieter van Twisk, told Reuters he was “completely surprised” by the email sent to the research team.
Pankoke, who was instrumental in the investigation, had previously acknowledged there was no absolute certainty about the betrayal 77 years after the war ended. “But our theory has a probability of more than 85%,” he told German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview.
Goldsmith continues to question the findings. “Now the main statement is this: a Jew betrayed the Jews,” he said. “It sticks in the memory and it’s disturbing.”