Historians criticize new thesis on the betrayal of Anne Frank

Status: 01/18/2022 5:52 p.m

A team of historians, criminologists and an ex-FBI agent believe they have discovered who betrayed the Frank family to the Nazis. But the new thesis is clearly criticized in professional circles.

Historians have strongly criticized a new investigation into the betrayal of Anne Frank’s hiding place to the Nazis. The evidence is very thin, says the Amsterdam professor for Holocaust and genocide studies, Johannes Houwink ten Cate, in the Dutch “NRC Handelsblad”.

With great accusation comes great evidence. And there is none.

A letter as an indication

An international team had been researching archives for five years to find out who had betrayed the hiding place of a total of eight Jewish people in Amsterdam to the German Nazis in 1944. Among those in hiding were Anne Frank and her family. Frank (1929 – 1945) wrote her world-famous diary there.

At the end of the research there was one name: that of the Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh. He is said to have betrayed those in hiding. The Frank family was deported, all members except for their father Otto were murdered. According to the research team, van den Bergh tried to save his family’s life by betraying him. It primarily relies on a copy of an anonymous letter that Otto Frank received after the war and in which the name of the notary is mentioned. Accordingly, van den Bergh is said to have given the German occupiers “a whole list of addresses”. Van den Bergh was a member of the Jewish Council in Amsterdam.

Thin evidence for big accusation

Several historians have questioned the conclusions, citing errors and inaccuracies in the investigation. Houwink ten Cate said there was no evidence that the Jewish Council made lists of addresses of hiding places for Jews during World War II.

The historian Ben Wallet said in an interview with the news magazine “Der Spiegel” that it was more than questionable to accuse someone of betraying Anne Frank and her family on the basis of an anonymous letter. The evidence of the research team is as shaky as a house of cards. In the post-war period there were many rumors and allegations, especially against members of the Jewish Council. “Van den Bergh was by far not the only one who was suspected of collaborating with the National Socialists because of his membership in the ‘Judenrat’.” After the end of the war, he was also investigated, “but the allegation that he had betrayed hidden Jews was never made at the time,” Wallet continued.

Anne Frank became known worldwide through her diary.

Image: dpa

Also, historians see no motive for the betrayal of the notary. According to a study, he himself had gone into hiding with his family in the summer of 1944 because of imminent deportation. The notary would probably have attracted the attention of the Nazis by reporting to the security service.

Chance of final answer low

The scientist Bart van der Boom from the University of Leiden even describes the new thesis as “slanderous nonsense”.

There will hardly be an answer to the question of who betrayed the Frank family, said David Barnouw, who has researched the subject for years. “I guess there’s little chance of a definitive answer yet being found.”


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