Investigators believe they may have finally identified the person responsible for betraying Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis.
A cold case team led by a former FBI agent has revealed that the Amsterdam address where Frank was hiding was likely given up by a high profile member of the Jewish community in exchange for his own family’s safety.
Arnold van den Bergh, who worked as a notary and was a member of a Jewish council – administrative bodies established by the Nazis to monitor and control local Jewish communities – was identified based on six years of research including an anonymous note given to Frank’s father, Otto, informing him of the betrayal.
Van den Bergh, who died in 1950, reportedly gave up the hiding places of the Franks and a number of other Jewish families in Amsterdam as a form of ‘life insurance’ to protect his own family. He is not believed to have known the identities of the families living at the addresses, nor indeed whether any Jews were still at the addresses when he handed them over to Nazi police.
The revelations aired in a 60 Minutes documentary on Sunday, January 16 ahead of the publication of a new book, The Betrayal of Anne Frank, which features work carried out by former FBI investigator Vincent Pankoke and his team.
In comments reported by The Guardian, author Rosemary Sullivan described van den Bergh as ‘a well-known notary, one of six Jewish notaries in Amsterdam at the time…he was working with a committee to help Jewish refugees, and before the war as they were fleeing Germany.’
Anne Frank lived in hiding from the Nazis in an annex in a canalside building in Amsterdam with her parents and sister, Margot, between 1942 and August 1944, when they were discovered and eventually deported to Auschwitz. She died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 aged just 15.
The anonymous note used to help identify van den Bergh was passed to the cold case team by the son of a detective who led an official investigation into the betrayal of the Franks in 1963.
‘The anonymous note did not identify Otto Frank. It said ‘your address was betrayed,” Sullivan explained.
‘So, in fact, what had happened was van den Bergh was able to get a number of addresses of Jews in hiding. And it was those addresses with no names attached and no guarantee that the Jews were still hiding at those addresses. That’s what he gave over to save his skin, if you want, but to save himself and his family. Personally, I think he is a tragic figure.’
Frank’s father, Otto, was the only member of the family to survive the holocaust and lived until 1980. According to the book, he long believed to know the identity of his family’s betrayer, telling a journalist after the war that his address was given up by someone within the Jewish community.
Miep Gies, one of those who helped the family, additionally revealed in 1994 that the person suspected of betraying them had died by 1960.
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