A group of Dutch historians have published an in-depth critique of the work and conclusion of a cold case team who said they had pieced together the “most likely scenario” of the betrayal of Jewish teenage columnist Anne Frank and of his family in German-occupied Amsterdam. during the Second World War.
The Cold Case team’s research, which was published earlier this year in the book The Betrayal Of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, by Canadian scholar and author Rosemary Sullivan, immediately drew criticism in the Netherlands. Low.
Now, in a 69-page written ‘rebuttal’, six historians and scholars describe the cold case team’s findings as ‘a tottering house of cards’.
The Dutch publisher of the book repeated its earlier apology and announced on Tuesday evening that it was withdrawing the book from stores.
The book says the person who revealed the location of the Frank family’s secret annex hideout in an Amsterdam canal-side building was likely a prominent Jewish notary, Arnold van den Bergh, who revealed the location to the German occupiers of the Netherlands to save his own family from deportation and death in Nazi concentration camps.
Dutch historians have reviewed the team’s work and concluded that “the accusation does not hold water”.
Historians said the book “presents a distinct pattern in which assumptions are made by the CCT (Cold Case Team), believed to be true a moment later, and then used as building blocks for the next stage of the train of logic. This makes the whole book a flimsy house of cards, because if a single step proves wrong, the cards above also crumble.”
In response, cold case team leader Pieter van Twisk told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the historians’ work was “very detailed and extremely solid” and said it “gives us a number of things to think about, but at the moment I do not see that Van den Bergh can be permanently removed as a prime suspect”.
Since the book’s publication in January, the team has posted detailed responses to criticism of its work on its website.
Dutch filmmaker Thijs Bayens, who came up with the idea for the cold case team, conceded in January that the team was not 100% certain about Van den Bergh.
“There is no absolute proof because the betrayal is circumstantial,” Bayens told The Associated Press at the time.
The Frank family and four other Jews hid in the annex, which was accessed by a secret staircase hidden behind a bookcase, from July 1942 until their discovery in August 1944 and their deportation to concentration camps.
Anne and her sister died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne was 15 years old. Only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived the Holocaust. He published his diary after World War II and it quickly became an enduring symbol of hope and resilience, read by millions around the world.
The director of the Anne Frank House museum, which is based in the building where the Frank family hid, said in January that there were “many missing pieces of the puzzle. And these pieces need to be studied further in order to see how we can add value to this new theory”.
On Wednesday, director Ronald Leopold said question marks the museum had in January over the cold case team’s findings “are supported by cross-examination by eminent historians.” You can’t commit someone to history like Anne Frank’s traitor if you don’t have conclusive proof. We hope that this counter-investigation clears Van den Bergh’s name of all blame, as well as that of his relatives, including his granddaughter Mirjam de Gorter.”