A six-year probe ends with the revelation as to who may have betrayed the Frank family in an effort to save his own.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
A six-year investigation into who betrayed one of the most famous victims of the Holocaust has ended with naming a Jew as the culprit.
The question of who gave away the hiding place of teenager Anne Frank, who wrote a diary during the two years she was in hiding in Amsterdam that gained worldwide renown after the war, had never been settled despite numerous inquiries over the decades.
Now, a team of 20 historians, computer modelers and other specialists led by two retired FBI officials has pointed to Arnold van den Bergh, a well-known businessman who was a member of the Jewish Council.
Former FBI special agent Vince Pankoke told the CBS program “60 Minutes” that in 1963, Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only survivor of the family, gave detectives an anonymous note that was sent to him, naming van den Bergh, who died 13 years earlier.
Pankoke found the son of one of the Dutch policemen, who followed up on the tip and discovered that the police were aware that it was member of the Jewish Council who had given the Nazis lists of possible Jewish hiding places.
‘Placed in an untenable position’
While the Council members and their families eventually were sent to concentration camps as well, van den Bergh and his family were not, and they survived the war. The assumption is that the businessman protected his loved ones through this betrayal, which was not personal.
“There’s no evidence to indicate that he knew who was hiding at any of these addresses,” Pankoke noted, adding that “we have to keep in mind that the fact that he was Jewish just meant he was placed into an untenable position by the Nazis to do something to save his life.”
Van den Bergh is the latest suspect among a long list of others over the years.
The hiding place that sheltered the Franks, along with another family and a dentist acquaintance, was located behind a secret door in a warehouse of the business owned by the Franks before they were forced to sell it during the war. While several of the employees were their invaluable helpers, providing all their basic necessities, soon after the war ended, Otto suggested that another employee was the culprit.
That suspect, Willem van Maaren, was questioned several times by different investigators, but he steadfastly maintained his innocence, and no evidence could be found to prove that he was the culprit. Another suspect interrogated by the Dutch after the war but never prosecuted due to lack of evidence was Tonny Ahlers, a Nazi sympathizer who had known Otto through his business.
The possibility always existed that unknown thieves who broke into the warehouse at night heard noises coming from the hiding place, as the families felt safe to move around after the workday was finished. As the Nazis paid a reward for every Jew betrayed, this would clearly motivate any criminal to report them.
Van den Bergh is not the first Jew to be named as the offender. That dubious honor belongs to a woman, Ans van Dijk, who was executed in 1948 after admitting that she helped the Nazis capture 145 people. However, an investigation by the Anne Frank House museum and research center could not confirm her complicity in this particular incident.
Anne and the other seven members of the secret annex were caught in August 1944. She and her sister, Margot, died, likely from typhus, at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February 1945.