Status: 01/17/2022 2:27 p.m
Anne Frank’s hiding place from the National Socialists was apparently betrayed by a Jewish notary. This is the conclusion reached by an international team of investigators who have been investigating the case for almost six years.
Vince Pankoke worked for the FBI for 27 years. As a pensioner, he has now supported an international investigative team that has re-examined the case of Anne Frank.
ARD-Studio The Hague
For the former secret agent, this case was not a “cold case” but a “frozen case” – a story that had been on hold for far too long. But after almost six years of intensive research, the 23-strong team of experts is convinced that they have found the man who betrayed the Frank family in August 1944.
Above all, an anonymous letter that Anne’s father Otto received in the mid-1950s led to the trail of a Jewish notary, says Pieter van Twisk, the Dutch head of the investigation.
“This is the copy of the letter that was put in Otto Frank’s mailbox. In it, an unknown person claims that the Frank family’s hiding place was betrayed, by the notary Arnold van den Bergh,” reports van Twisk.
Evidence of van den Bergh’s perpetration
The existence of the letter has been known for decades. But many historians had doubts about the perpetrators of the Jewish lawyer. Van den Bergh is said to have left the Netherlands in 1943.
However, the experts have refuted this on the basis of documents from the city archives. According to this, the respected Dutch notary gave a new address within Amsterdam to the residents’ registration office in February 1944.
According to van Twisk, not only this circumstance speaks for van den Bergh as a traitor. “You look who has the knowledge, the opportunity and the motive. And he fulfills all three requirements,” says van Twisk. “He was a leader in the Jewish Council and had access to documents. He also had the opportunity and found himself in a difficult situation.”
Apparently he wanted to protect his family
As a member of the Jewish Council, van den Bergh initially lived relatively safely. But in 1944 the pressure increased on him too. In order to protect himself and his family, he probably slipped the German occupiers a whole series of addresses of families in hiding, says ex-FBI agent Pankoke.
“The motive in Arnold van den Bergh’s case was to protect himself, his wife and his three daughters from deportation to a concentration camp. As a Jew, you either cooperated at the time or you were sent to the East,” says Pankoke.
The former FBI agent admits the new theory isn’t 100 percent secure, but he believes it is 85 percent. The investigators base their investigation results on interviews, historical documents, address lists and diaries.
Parts of Anne Frank’s diary
66 gigabytes of data
According to van Twisk, 66 gigabytes of data were compiled in the computer. “For example, we analyzed all the neighbors who lived near the rear building at the time. Who lived where and what kind of people were they? Did they have contact with Dutch National Socialists or were they known traitors or informers?”
The investigations not only strengthened the suspicion against van den Bergh, says van Twisk. At the same time, the research results ruled out around two dozen other theories.
New findings do not bring absolute certainty
However, even 77 years after the end of the war, there is still no absolute certainty. Ronald Leopold of the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam therefore still believes it is possible that the residents of the rear building at Prinsengracht 263 were not betrayed, but were accidentally discovered by the Nazis. “I don’t think you can rule out this theory based on this new study,” Leopold said.
No, they actually didn’t find a “smoking gun,” admits former secret agent Pankoke, but they did find a gun that was still warm with empty shell casings.
Jewish notary is said to have betrayed Anne Frank
Ludger Kazmierczak, WDR The Hague, 17.1.2022 · 13:42