Researchers May Have Found Anne Frank's Betrayer

A 6-year investigation suggests the culprit was a fellow Jew in Amsterdam: Arnold van den Bergh
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 10:55 AM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2022 6:30 AM CST
Who Betrayed Anne Frank? We May Have an Answer
Images of Anne Frank at the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(Newser) – It's a question that has long vexed historians: Who gave up Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis? Now, a six-year investigation suggests the culprit has finally been identified. Researchers say the "most likely scenario" is that a man named Arnold van den Bergh, who was Jewish himself, handed over the address of the warehouse where Anne and her family were hiding, reports Reuters and the AP. His motive? To keep himself and his family out of the concentration camps. Coverage:

  • Researchers: The story is told via 60 Minutes and in a new book called The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan. It's based on research conducted by retired FBI detective Vince Pankoke. Other team members include filmmaker Thijs Bayens and journalist Pieter van Twisk. In all, they examined about 30 potential suspects.

  • Who was van den Bergh? He was a prominent notary in Amsterdam and a member of the Jewish Council, a group forcibly set up by the Nazis, per the Guardian. As part of that group, he would have had access to the addresses of hiding spots, even if he didn't necessarily know the names of the people at specific locations. He died in 1950.
  • A key clue: Researchers discovered that during a 1963 investigation, detectives learned that Otto Frank—Anne's father and the family's sole survivor—had received an anonymous note after the war implicating van den Bergh. (They obtained the actual note from the son of a late detective.) That 1963 investigation fizzled and Frank himself didn't pursue the matter. Why? Pankoke can only speculate: "He knew that Arnold van den Bergh was Jewish, and in this period after the war, anti-semitism was still around," he tells 60 Minutes. "So perhaps he just felt that if I bring this up again, with Arnold van den Bergh being Jewish, it'll only stoke the fires further."

  • Context: The researchers say they don't view van den Bergh, assuming he is the betrayer, as an evil person, just someone desperate to save his own family in dire circumstance. "Personally, I think he is a tragic figure," writes Sullivan.
  • A caveat: In a New York Times review of the book, Alexandra Jacobs says the evidence "is convincing, if not conclusive." And as Bayens tells the AP: "There is no smoking gun because betrayal is circumstantial."
(Read more Anne Frank stories.)

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