Man who may have betrayed Anne Frank to Nazis named, researchers say

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The person who may have betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis more than 75 years ago has been identified by a team of cold case investigators.

The researchers believe Arnold van den Bergh, a prominent Jewish notary in Amsterdam, revealed the Franks’ secret annex hiding place to the Germans in order to save his own family from certain death.

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The Franks and four other Jews were discovered by the Nazis in August 1944 after hiding in the annex, reached by a secret staircase hidden behind a bookcase, for two years.

The family was deported to concentration camps and only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived. The 15-year-old Anne and her sister Margot died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

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The diary the teenager wrote while in hiding was recovered by her dad and published after the Holocaust. It has since been translated into more than 70 languages, becoming a symbol of hope and resilience and capturing the attention of millions around the globe.

anne frank, cold cases, holocaust, investigations, world war ii

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Arnold Van den Bergh (circled) was a member of Amsterdam’s Jewish Council and has recently been named as the man who may have betrayed Anne Frank and her family to Nazi forces.

CBS

anne frank, cold cases, holocaust, investigations, world war ii

Anne Frank hid with her family and four others from Nazi forces for nearly 2 years in a room behind a bookcase.

Anne Frank Fonds/Anne Frank House via Getty Images

But the identity of who gave up the young girl and her family to the Nazis remained a mystery for decades, despite previous investigations.

Filmmaker Thijs Bayens had the idea to put together a research team, led by retired FBI agent Vincent Pankoke, to take another look at the case.

The cold case team, comprised of around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists, spent six years poring over records, using modern investigative techniques such as computer algorithms to help them find a suspect.

anne frank, cold cases, holocaust, investigations, world war ii

A typed copy of an anonymous note that was received by Otto Frank after the war with hand-written notes by an investigator.

CBS

anne frank, cold cases, holocaust, investigations, world war ii

Investigator Vince Pankoke is a retired FBI agent led the team investigating the Frank betrayal.

CBS

“We have investigated over 30 suspects in 20 different scenarios, leaving one scenario we like to refer to as the most likely scenario,” Bayens said.

He stressed that “we don’t have 100 percent certainty,” telling The Associated Press Monday that, “there is no smoking gun because betrayal is circumstantial.”

The crucial piece of new evidence was a typed, anonymous note delivered to Otto Frank after World War II that named Van den Bergh, who died in 1950, as the person who ratted out the family to German occupiers, researchers said.

anne frank, cold cases, holocaust, investigations, world war ii

The passage to the secret annex is seen at the renovated Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam.

AP

The note, found in an old post-war investigation dossier, said Van den Bergh had access to addresses where Jews were hiding as a member of Amsterdam’s wartime Jewish Council, and alleged he fed the information to the Nazis to save his own family.

Investigators said Otto had been aware of the note but chose never to reveal its existence, possibly out of fear it would lead to more anti-Semitism.

“Perhaps he just felt that if I bring this up again … it’ll only stoke the fires further,” Pankoke told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in an episode aired Sunday.

“But we have to keep in mind that the fact that [Van den Bergh] was Jewish just meant that he was placed into an untenable position by the Nazis to do something to save his life.”

anne frank, cold cases, holocaust, investigations, world war ii

Researchers have said that they have based their conclusion off of a letter that Otto Frank received claiming Arnold Van den Bergh was the one who ratted them out.

The team said it struggled with the possibility that the betrayer was another Jewish person, but also found it offered insight into how the atrocities of the Nazi regime brought people to the desperate point of turning on each other.

“We went looking for a perpetrator and we found a victim,” Bayens said.

The Anne Frank House museum, which gave the investigators access to its archive, welcomed the “fascinating hypothesis” but said it merits “further research.”

“I don’t think we can say that a mystery has been solved now. I think it’s an interesting theory that the team came up with,” said museum director Ronald Leopold.

“I think they come up with a lot of interesting information, but I also think there are still many missing pieces of the puzzle. And those pieces need to be further investigated in order to see how we can value this new theory.”

With Post wires

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