Jewish notary suspected of having betrayed Anne Frank | cultural | Report on arts, music and lifestyle in Germany | DW

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A six-year investigation into who betrayed Anne Frank and her family has yielded a startling result.

A cold case team that included retired US FBI agent Vincent Pankoke and about 20 historians, criminologists and data scientists identified a little-known Jewish notary, Arnold van den Bergh, as a highly likely suspect who exposed the family hideout from the Nazis in August. 1944.

A CBS documentary and accompanying book, The betrayal of Anne Frank, based on the investigative team’s findings, detail how Jewish-Dutch notary van den Bergh allegedly handed over a list of Jewish hideouts in Amsterdam to the Germans to save himself, his wife, three daughters.

His list included the address of the canal-facing warehouse on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, where Frank and seven other Jews lived in a secret annex for nearly two years.

Important clues in an unsigned note

The main piece of evidence was an unsigned note that Anne’s father, Otto Frank, received in 1946, which was found in an old post-war investigation file. He specifically named van den Bergh and alleged that as a member of the wartime Jewish Council of Amsterdam he had access to the addresses of the Jews’ hideouts and passed it on to the Nazis.

According to the Reuters news agency, while other members of the Jewish Council were deported in 1943, van den Bergh was able to stay in the Netherlands. He died in 1950.

The mobile library that led to Anne Frank's hideout

The Mobile Library that hid the entrance to the Secret Annex

Solution to a historical mystery

Pankoke, who was instrumental in the investigation, said there was no absolute certainty of van den Bergh’s complicity. “But our theory has a probability of more than 85%,” he told Deutschlandfunk radio.

The purpose of the investigation, he said, was not to bring charges against anyone, but to solve the historical mystery of who turned the Frank family over to the Gestapo.

After the August 1944 betrayal, the Nazis deported the entire Frank family to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Anne and her sister Margot were then transferred to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where they both died of typhus in February 1945.

Freed from Auschwitz by the Russians, Otto will later discover that he was the only survivor of the family.

Investigators confirmed that Otto Frank was aware of the note but chose never to speak about it publicly.

As Reuters reported, investigative team member Pieter van Twisk suggested several reasons why Frank chose to remain silent. Perhaps he was uncertain of the truth; he would not have wanted to make public information likely to further fuel anti-Semitism; and he wouldn’t have wanted Arnold van den Bergh’s three daughters to be blamed for anything their father might have done.

Otto “had been in Auschwitz,” van Twisk told Reuters. “He knew that people in difficult situations sometimes do things that cannot be morally justified.”

Hideout in the Netherlands

It was Otto Frank’s employee, Miep Gies, who had saved Anne’s diary and returned it to her at the end of the war.

His daughter’s notes made a deep impression on Otto, who had his diary published in June 1947.

Titled “Het Achterhuis” (The Secret Annex), 3,000 copies were originally printed. The book would later be translated into around 70 languages ​​and adapted for stage and screen.

Still from Where is Anne Frank?  shows a girl talking to a woman

“Where’s Anne Frank?” by Ari Folman is one of many adaptations from the columnist’s life

Anne’s life as described in her diary became known to people around the world, and in 1960 the family hideout became a museum known as the Anne Frank House. Otto remained closely involved with the Anne Frank House and Museum until his death in 1980.

This article has been translated from German.

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