The search for Anne Frank’s betrayer

No particular person story of the Holocaust is as well-known as that of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who hid from the Nazis along with her household and mates in an Amsterdam attic for greater than two years. The world at massive is aware of her story due to the outstanding diary she left behind, a vivid outpouring of worry and hope, desires and frustration, usually expressed with heartbreaking poignancy; its most well-known phrases are, “after all I nonetheless imagine that individuals are actually good at coronary heart.” The toughest a part of studying Anne’s diary, first revealed in 1947,  is “that she wrote trying hopefully in direction of the longer term, and we all know how badly it ends,” says prize-winning Canadian biographer Rosemary Sullivan, creator of the simply launched Who Betrayed Anne Frank?

In some way, the Nazi authorities discovered of the key annex. On Aug. 4, 1944, a German officer and his Dutch police collaborators took the occupants and two of their non-Jewish “helpers”—as historians loosely group those that offered the “hiders” with meals and different provides—into custody. The Jews have been all despatched eastwards to loss of life camps, on the final such prepare from the Netherlands to Auschwitz. Of the Frank household, solely the daddy, Otto, survived the conflict: mom Edith died of hunger in Auschwitz in early January 1945; two months later, daughters Margot, 19, and 15-year-old Anne, died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. 

In Holland, the query of “who was accountable?”for the betrayal of the Jews hiding within the annex is probably the most regularly requested query at Anne Frank Home, the museum established within the constructing that when sheltered the Franks. It’s a query that Sullivan’s e-book, the end result of a multi-person, six-year dive into the large historic document, solutions convincingly if not past all doubt: The betrayer was doubtless a fellow Jew, a outstanding Amsterdam notary named Arnold van den Bergh. However it’s also a query that transcends particular person victims, perpetrators and occasions, as each the Dutch residents who launched the chilly case and Sullivan agree. 

Q: What was the genesis of the brand new investigation?

A: These two Dutchmen, mates—filmmaker Thijs Bayens and Pieter van Twisk, who’s a journalist—had determined they’d take the query. One of many motives was the sensation that the Netherlands had by no means confronted as much as the legacy of the conflict. Ten per cent of the Dutch have been resisters and 10 per cent have been Nazis and fascists, with 80 per cent simply attempting, as [people] did all over the place, to maintain their heads down. What puzzled Pieter particularly was how a rustic that had in impact been the birthplace of liberalism went on to deport 72 per cent of its Jewish inhabitants, virtually double what different international locations in Western Europe did. That, they thought, had by no means actually absolutely been confronted. Thijs additionally felt that within the Netherlands—which within the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s had been, for our boomer technology, a spot of actual freedom, the place you would smoke up and no matter—tolerance is being eroded relatively swiftly by the rise of the precise. He wished to have a look at the anti-Semitism of the conflict period and the xenophobia of the current. 

Q: It grew from there as a result of publishers, who offered a lot of the funding, took an interest?

A: As a result of there had been such an advanced historical past beneath the occupation, with a variety of Dutch police compromised, Thijs and Pieter determined to search for an exterior lead for the investigation, who they present in Vince Pankoke, a former particular investigator for the FBI. Then they took on forensic analysts,  historians, profilers—23 full-time folks, all advised. They have been in a position to feed all of the paperwork—that are unfold throughout, not simply in Holland, however the U.S., Canada, Britain, different European international locations—into an AI program that Microsoft made for them to search out hyperlinks between folks and dates, and so on. An enormous big-data investigation. 

Q: How did you become involved?

A: The top of HarperCollins’s Harper Division in New York, Jonathan Burnham, recommended me as a attainable author. I had labored with them earlier than on Second World Conflict books, together with Stalin’s Daughter. I did discuss to Thijs and Pieter at some size earlier than I agreed, however the truth the e-book can be a portrait of the Netherlands to a level and I used to be to make the hiders, helpers and suspects floor from the web page—make them actual folks—pulled me in. 

Q: By 2019, the investigation was right down to 4 attainable suspects. Three have been figures regularly recommended through the years as potential betrayers. Who have been they, and what have been the deciding elements that dominated them out?

A: There was Ans van Dijk, the Jewish informant chargeable for many deaths amongst Jews and Resistance members, who was executed after the conflict. However she wasn’t in Amsterdam on the time. There was greengrocer Hendrick van Hoeve, who might have been coerced into exposing the hiders within the annex, however once more the problem of timing was off—he was arrested by the Germans properly earlier than the betrayal in August. Had he given away the hiding place of eight Jews, he would doubtless not have been arrested. After which there was Nelly Voskuijl, a Nazi collaborator who was sister to one of many Franks’ helpers. However in her case, as additionally in van Dijk’s, there’s purpose to imagine the betrayer was a person. There have been hints through the years, largely ignored, that Otto Frank knew who the betrayer was and stored that data secret, apart from telling Miep Gies, who was closest to him among the many helpers. She let it slip in 1994 that the betrayer was a person who had died earlier than 1960. As one Anne Frank biographer put it, the problem is much less a thriller unsolved than a secret properly stored.

Q: The chilly case investigators determined it was most certainly the fourth suspect who had betrayed the Franks, a person by no means earlier than considered concerned. How did his title come up and what established his accountability?

A: Arnold van den Bergh was recognized in an nameless word which Otto obtained in the summertime after he returned to Amsterdam from Auschwitz, naming the one that betrayed the tackle of the hidden annex. [Former FBI agent Vince] Pankoke first learn of the existence of this word within the information of detective Arend Van Helden, who led an investigation into the betrayal in 1963. Van Helden mentioned that Otto knowledgeable him that he’d given the unique word to a Dutch notary however made a duplicate, which he handed to the detective. Monitoring down Van Helden’s son, Vince was in a position to retrieve the copy. Numerous forensic exams confirmed that this was the unique copy made by Otto in 1957. From this intriguing element, the chilly case staff adopted the path of van den Bergh, and discovered that there was no document of both him or his shut relations being held in a focus camp, though he was well-known for working with a committee serving to Jewish refugees from Germany earlier than the conflict. The query of how he secured his freedom started an investigation that finally led to the idea that he was the one who gave addresses (however not names) to the Nazi command in trade for the liberty for himself and his household. 

Q: Small surprise Otto Frank couldn’t stand to stay in Amsterdam once more, a metropolis he known as a spot of friendship unto loss of life (referring to Miep Gies) and betrayal, on condition that van den Bergh was Jewish himself.

A: After I take into consideration the helpers, the 5 individuals who actually put their lives on the road for the hiders, I’ve to say they have been virtually all the time folks with out kids. That makes me pause once I consider van den Bergh, : how do you not defend your kids? There was nothing soiled or corrupt about him, like a few of the informants who have been after the bounty cash the Germans paid. He was attempting to avoid wasting his household, and made a very tragic determination that was inconceivable to come back out of accurately.

Q: In a narrative filled with ironies that’s the cruellest: Arnold van den Bergh was decided to avoid wasting his household, it doesn’t matter what that entailed, from what the Nazis would do to them. And he succeeded, at the price of Otto Frank’s household.

A: Sure.

Q: With regard to then and now, you name the Netherlands in 1940 “a petri dish,” a time and place to see what occurs to individuals who had freedom and misplaced it. Do you see any present petri dishes round us now?

A: You’ll be able to’t watch American media with out anxiousness concerning the divisiveness in the US. Particularly after what I spotted scripting this e-book—that conflict begins lengthy earlier than it erupts in violence. A unprecedented 1943 doc from the U.S. Workplace of Strategic Providers I noticed analyzed the modus operandi of Hitler: by no means admit a fault, by no means settle for blame, think about one enemy, blame him for all the things. So that you create conspiracy, defamation, mendacity, hyperbole, they usually grow to be autos, acceptable autos of energy. That sounds awfully acquainted to me. The rhetorical violence paves the way in which for the precise violence.

On the lookout for extra?

Get one of the best of Maclean’s straight to your inbox. Join your every day dose of reports, commentary and evaluation.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button