The enigma who betrayed Anne Frank and her fellow hiders still looks unsolved
In short, despite mega publicity, there is not really much news
Many patients don’t like it when physicians say: “We really don’t know what you have.” Even if that’s the truth. Then, make up something! But, some prefer such admission above, while they suffer.
No less than 30 suspects have been named over the years, speculating who betrayed Anne Frank. The short answer is: We don’t know, really.
The issue is that many of them could have done it, can be believed to have done it, yet, no culprit ever was proven the villain. And when we look at the 30 cases, some pretty unpleasant details will come our way.
A Fresh Cold Case Team
Some 5 years ago, a cold case team had to find or find out, once and for all, whodunit. It proved not simple. They were criminologists, historians, forensic psychologists, led by a pensioned FBI agent, helped by ‘artificial intelligence’ to find connections between the enormous amount of facts to get to the ultimate answer. They just published their report.
Now, I’m not someone who can decide on a whim that they did a good or a lousy job. What I can say is that they did a lousy job reporting.
No, I don’t mean that they were amateurs in seeking publicity. They did an excellent job at that. They contacted numerous journalists in the Netherlands and around the world, telling them their findings under embargo. January 17, they would come with their story, and then, reporters were free to publish anything they had prepared confidentially.
And that’s what happened. In the Low Countries (the Netherlands and Belgium), the US, and Israel, the news came out like a tidal wave.
However, what was the conclusion of the cold case team? They did not come with a report on each of the 30 suspects. Rather, after five years, they fingered one man. He was the most plausible culprit.
Yet, I find something very shoddy about the way they worked. They excluded none of the 30. They went to look for proof and found none. Then, after five years of research by their large international team, they explained their mode of thinking: The offender must have known about the hiding place, have had a motive to betray the hiders, and have had an opportunity to set in motion how their hiding place was busted.
Worse, to me it seems that A. They didn’t trust the public. They could have reported on each of the 30 and let us draw our own conclusions. And, B. They refused to answer questions like: Was this a unanimous conclusion of the whole team? Were there minority opinions? Were you able to prove that some of the 30 did not do it?
The German language has a beautiful word for this: hereininterpretieren, to explain in the direction of the answer you want.
The one they pointed out as the most likely candidate, A. van den B., was, they claimed, given away by two statements: One by Otto Frank whose typewriter had typed this—a surprise find. And his secretary said in 1960 that the culprit was already dead, and this person died in 1950.
Further, their main suspect, at the beginning of the war, was part of the Joodsche Raad (the Jewish council) that organized the transports and tried to keep as many Jews off the lists as possible. So, these officials got a lot of mail from the concentration camp Westerbork to pass on to family members in hiding. Without proof, they speculate that he so must have known of lots of hiding places.
Their top argument, they think, is that Austrian high Nazi office Karl Silberbauer led the raid. Normally, Dutch Nazis did that. So, the betrayal had to be by someone who could have access to him and spoke German.
Frank didn’t seek revenge. They see that as proof that a fellow Jew did it.
There are so many loose ends in their story.
Problems with Their Conclusions
1. They told his full name. Now, I had a friend visit the national archives of WW II materials to find a testimony my mother had given, 70 years ago. He had to hand in his camera, had to sign that he would not photograph anything he would read, and not name any of the names he would read. Some of the war criminals or their close relatives might still be alive, and their interests must be protected. Not joking! But A. van den B. was a Jew. Betraying Anne Frank was not something to hide? Even when put on trial, names of suspects are abbreviated in the Dutch press, unless convicted. And even then, sometimes, to facilitate reintegration into society later.
Now, there is a precedent for this. There was a Jewish woman, Ans van Dijk, one of the 30, who, to save her own skin, betrayed dozens of Jews. She had to keep doing so to avoid being transported herself. When Jews are played against each other, is the one who cooperates to save her skin a traitor? Equal to a Jew-hater who sold out Jews for 7.5 guilders? She killed no one. But, after the war, she got her day in court and was executed! But the Dutch Gentile policemen, tram and train drivers, and the military who guarded the concentration camp Westerbork, they were not even tried.
Today still, Gentile war criminals go free and their good name is guarded. Jewish suspects get no protection at all. They can be slandered freely. Even after their death. (The Dutch have a saying: Don’t slander the dead.)
2. They still tried to prove their case but their proof is faulty. Otto Frank may or may not have typed that note that said A. van den B. did it.
And, he had gone to the police to accuse someone else and he never recalled that accusation? The cold case team does not mention this and doesn’t answer this. They’re building their case and leave out proof to the contrary. And when they were asked about that, they refused to answer. They did answer silly questions but not this one.
Even more puzzling is that this note starts with “Your [in the singular] hiding place in Amsterdam at the time was communicated to the Jewish emigration [euphemism for the Nazi transportation agency] … by A. van den. B… They had a whole list of addresses supplied by him.”
But it is typed on the typewriter of the sole survivor Otto Frank. Who would type such a sentence about Otto on Otto’s machine? Why would Otto type this, or not destroy this, if Otto didn’t want to talk about it? The cold case team says Otto typed this to himself. Really? In the 2nd person?
3. Otto’s secretary said in 1960 that the culprit was already dead. And their culprit died in 1950 of throat cancer. But in 1948, Ans was executed. The secretary likely had his information. But who says he said the truth to her?
4. A. van den B., they speculate, must have known of the Frank’s hiding place and many others because of his coordinating position in the Joodsche Raad. But, that means, objects a historian who studied this, that he would have walked around with such a list (that was never seen or heard of) for a year before giving it on to the Nazis? Most of the other 30 suspects knew this hiding place. This is hardly a discriminating fact. In fact, it’s pure speculation. Further, in the 5 years of their research, they didn’t work out if the hiders had any family in Westerbork that might have sent them any mail? Besides, as a dozen comments under the above clip read, if he only knew the address, how did the police know to look behind the bookcase? They didn’t search the premise. They went straight at it. Besides, as one specialized historian remarks, after the war, many accused people of the Joodsche Raad. That doesn’t mean it was true.
5. Their best argument. Austrian high Nazi office Karl Silberbauer led the raid. Normally, Dutch Nazis would do this. So, the betrayal had to be by someone with access to him and who spoke German. In the ’30 and ’40s, most Dutch people spoke German. German was the language of culture and science. And Anne Frank was not yet famous. There was no reason why a high Austrian Nazi would not say to the Dutch: Round up the Jews at this address. There were over 100,000 Jews deported. But this raid interested him? More questions than answers here.
6. “Jews have betrayed us.” Do you too notice the plural? That doesn’t point at any of the 30. I don’t know what Otto meant. Dutch Jews before the war didn’t like German Jews? During the war they helped the Nazis organize the transports? After the war, Jewish communities disliked non-religious Jews? Or the Betrayal Itself? Or did he say that to divert attention from the real culprit and end the question? This is not clear at all.
The cold case team says that the reason Otto doesn’t seek revenge is that he won’t blame Jews for being played against each other and to not further encourage Dutch Antisemitism. However, there were other Jews among the 30. And the claim that he sought no revenge because he was blackmailed. Besides, talking about Jews taking revenge is a classical anti-Jewish sentiment. Christians have a G^d of Love and Jews of Revenge.
7. If (say) A. van den B. would have done this, you would expect that he didn’t feel all too good in the five years he still lived after the war. The cold case team did not succeed in talking to family and friends about this? They describe A. van der B. as a calm and humble person. Doesn’t fit the bill.
8. Talking about motives. How convenient if a German Jew and a German Nazi had done this. I can’t prove they didn’t. But, did it contribute to the true enthusiasm with which this feeble explanation is launched?
9. I recognize this type of fallacy. It’s very hard to spot if you haven’t seen it before. It goes like this. You reject out of hand anything ever before suggested. Then you come with your own theory. But about that new theory, you are not critical at all. After all, you found something new. Statisticians perhaps call that cherry-picking, the worst sin in their field.
In other words: The cold case team felt it had to come up with an unambiguous answer. And it did. But, it seems fake news. All circumstantial evidence while ignoring 29 other suspects.
NB: Telling, the deluge of QAnon and anti-Israel comments under the clip.
You may think that it’s just me who doubts their conclusions. Not so. The director of the Anne Frank Museum says that to slander someone’s name with this forever, you must be 100% if not 200% certain. And they are not.
The Dutch spokesperson for the cold case team says that they do accuse one person, but they also exonerate 28 others. “Your honor, let’s execute one suspect but free all the others—doesn’t that sound humane?” This man is by training a philosopher. Need I say more?
Dutch historians are not convinced either. They have five other suspects that are for them the most likely. They call this report “paper-thin” and “immoral,” no less. And, another solution the team didn’t even consider is that the hiders were discovered coincidentally. That would explain why, after discovery, they had to wait for a larger car to be transported away.
It’s high time, someone wrote a small encyclopedia with a chapter on each of the 30 suspects. It will be a good read to understand what went on in 1940-45 in the Netherlands regarding the Jews. Heroes who helped us, cowards and haters who helped the Nazis, authorities who looked away, also after the war, an extremely brave minority trying to save whomever they could, and normal, decent citizens who just went on with their lives while the Jews were deported, and helped with that if that was their job.