By Anthony Deutsch and Stephanie Van den Berg
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – An investigation reopened six years ago into the betrayal of the Anne Frank family has revealed a surprising suspect: the whistleblower responsible for urging the Nazis to find her and other Jews in a canal-side bunker in Amsterdam in 1944.
Anne and the other Jews were found by the Nazis on August 4 of that year after the group had been in hiding for two years. They were deported and Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 15.
A team that includes retired FBI agent Vincent Bangkok and about 20 historians, criminologists and relatively unknown personal data experts has identified Jewish notary Arnold van den Berg as the prime suspect in uncovering the cache.
Some other experts emphasized that the evidence was inconclusive.
Investigative team member Peter van Tuysek said the main evidence in the case is an unsigned note addressed to Otto Anne’s father, found in an old dossier on the post-war investigation, which specifically cites van den Berg and claims he provided the information to the Nazis.
The note claims that van den Berg had access to the addresses of Jewish bunkers as a member of the Jewish Council in Amsterdam, who worked during the war. The notary was passing this information to the Nazis to save his family.
Investigators asserted that Otto, the only family member to survive the war, was aware of the memo but chose not to speak about it publicly.
Twisk speculates that Otto may have decided to remain silent about the episode because he did not know whether the accusation was true, did not want to reveal information that could further encourage anti-Semitism, or did not want Van den Berg’s three daughters to do so. To be blamed for something their father did. He could have done.
“Otto was at Auschwitz,” Toissek said. “He knew that people in difficult situations sometimes do things that might not be morally justified.”
Although other members of the Jewish Council in Amsterdam were deported, van den Berg was able to remain in the Netherlands. He died in 1950.
Historian Eric Sommers of the Dutch NIOD Institute for the Studies of War, Holocaust and Genocide praised the extensive investigation but questioned its conclusion.
He questioned the centrality of the anonymous memo to van den Berg’s arguments about responsibility and said that the investigative team made assumptions about Jewish institutions in Amsterdam in wartime that are not supported by other historical investigations.
According to Summers, there are many possible reasons why van den Berg was never deported, as he “was a very influential man”.
Mibe Jess, one of the people who helped the Frank family, kept Anne’s diary safe until Otto’s return. It was first published in 1947. Since then, it has been translated into 60 languages and has captured the imagination of millions of readers around the world.
The Anne Frank House Foundation was not involved in investigating the case, but it did share information from its files with investigators.
The findings of the new research will be published in a book by Canadian writer Rosemary Sullivan, “The Betrayal of Anne Frank,” which will be released on Tuesday.
(Reportagem by Anthony Deutsch, Stephanie van den Berg, Toby Sterling)
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