A cold case team that combed through evidence for five years in a bid to unravel one of World War II’s enduring mysteries has reached what it calls the “most likely scenario” of who betrayed Jewish teenage diarist Anne Frank and her family.
Their answer, outlined in a new book called “The Betrayal of Anne Frank A Cold Case Investigation,” by Canadian academic and author Rosemary Sullivan, is that it could have been a prominent Jewish notary called Arnold van den Bergh, who disclosed the secret annex hiding place of the Frank family to German occupiers to save his own family from deportation and murder in Nazi concentration camps.
“We have investigated over 30 suspects in 20 different scenarios, leaving one scenario we like to refer to as the most likely scenario,” said film maker Thijs Bayens, who had the idea to put together the cold case team, that was led by retired FBI agent Vincent Pankoke, to forensically examine the evidence.
Bayens was quick to add that, “we don’t have 100% certainty.”
The Franks and four other Jews hid in the annex, reached by a secret staircase hidden behind a bookcase, from July 1942 until they were discovered in August 1944 and deported to concentration camps.
The diary Anne wrote while in hiding was published after the war and became a symbol of hope and resilience that has been translated into dozens of languages and read by millions.
But the identity of the person who gave away the location of their hiding place has always remained a mystery, despite previous investigations.
“No, I don’t think we can say that a mystery has been solved now. I think it’s an interesting theory that the team came up with,” said museum director Ronald Leopold.
“I think they come up with a lot of interesting information, but I also think there are still many missing pieces of the puzzle. And those pieces need to be further investigated in order to see how we can value this new theory.”
Bayens said the hunt for the betrayer was also a way of looking for an explanation of how the horror of the Nazi occupation forced some members of a once close-knit Amsterdam community to turn on one another.
How did facism bring people “to the desperate point of betraying each other, which is an awful, really awful situation?” he said.
“We went looking for a perpetrator and we found a victim,” Bayens said.