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The Cold Case team sheds new light on betrayal of Anne Frank

AMSTERDAM - A team that reviewed evidence for five years in an attempt to unravel one of World War II's enduring mysteries has reached what it calls the "most likely scenario" for who betrayed Jewish teenage writer Anne Frank and her family.

Their response, described in a new book called "The Betrayal of Anne Frank A Cold Case Investigation," by Canadian academic and author Rosemary Sullivan, is that it could have been a prominent Jewish notary named Arnold van den Bergh who revealed the secret annex. The Frank family's hiding place for German occupiers to save his own family from deportation and murder in Nazi concentration camps.

"We have investigated over 30 suspects in 20 different scenarios, leaving a scenario that we would like to refer to as the most likely scenario," said filmmaker Thijs Bayens, who had the idea to put together the cold case team led by the retired FBI. Agent Vincent Pankoke, for forensic examination of the evidence.

Bayens was quick to add, "we do not have 100 percent security."

"There's no smoking gun because treason is cumbersome," Bayens told the Associated Press Monday.

Ronald Leopold, CEO of Anne Frank's House, gestures as he speaks next to the passage to the secret annex during an interview in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Monday, January 17, 2022.Peter Dejong / AP

The Franks and four other Jews hid in the annex, reached by a secret staircase hidden behind a bookshelf, from July 1942 until they were discovered in August 1944 and deported to concentration camps.

Only Anne's father, Otto Frank, survived the war. Anne and her sister died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne was 15.

The diary, Anne wrote while in hiding, was published after the war and became a symbol of hope and resilience that has been translated into dozens of languages ​​and read by millions.

But the identity of the person who gave up the place of their hiding place has always remained a mystery despite previous investigations.

The team's results suggest that Otto Frank was one of the first to hear about Van den Bergh's possible involvement, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Amsterdam.

A short note, a typewritten copy of an anonymous tip delivered to Otto Frank after the war, names Van den Bergh, who died in 1950, as the person who informed the German authorities in Amsterdam where to find the Frank family , say the researchers.

The memo was an overlooked part of a decades-old police investigation in Amsterdam, which was reviewed by the team that used artificial intelligence to analyze and draw connections between archives around the world.

The Anne Frank House Museum in the Amsterdam building by the canal, which includes the secret annex, welcomed the new research, but said it also leaves questions unanswered. The museum gave researchers access to its archives for the cold case project.

"No, I do not 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 with a lot of interesting information, but I also think that there are still many pieces missing in the puzzle. And these pieces need to be further explored to see how we can appreciate this new theory. "

Bayens said the hunt for the traitor was also a way to look for an explanation of how the terror during the Nazi occupation forced some members of a once closely linked Amsterdam community to turn against each other.

How did fascism bring people "to the desperate point of betraying each other, which is a horrible, really horrible situation?" he said.

"We were looking for a perpetrator and we found a victim," Bayens said.

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