Historians attack the discovery about Anne Frank: “It doesn’t make sense”
who betrayed Ana Frank? The question has hovered over historians and researchers for almost eight decades. To such an extent that it has become the mainstay on which countless essays and historical novels have been built. This week, however, a new investigation promised to finally unveil the enigma. The solution came from the hand of former FBI investigator Vince Pankoke, who, after six years of tracking files and relatives of witnesses, confirmed the name and surname of the culprit: Arnold van den Bergh, a Jewish notary who would have handed over the family in exchange for escaping from the tentacles of the Nazis in the WWII.
The same researcher maintains that his team has reached this conclusion after analyzing some thirty more theories and defends it with sword, cape and what is third.
“We are 85-90% sure that it was him, it is the most plausible theory and we have evidence that it was him,” he explained on Tuesday, via videoconference, in statements to ABC.
In their favour, he argues, they have the testimonies of various descendants of Dutch people who survived World War II; all of them, convinced that the ‘jewish council‘, to which Van den Bergh belonged, knew the addresses where dozens of refugees were hiding in the Netherlands. «He gave that information to buy time», explains Pankoke to this newspaper.
However, it seems that some historians do not entirely agree with the research orchestrated by Pankoke and his team. Or, at least, with the assertion that Van den Bergh is certain to be the culprit. In statements made to the newspaperThe New York Times‘, half a dozen experts have attacked the book in which the former FBI investigator narrates the conclusions of his six years of investigations – ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank’, published on Tuesday in the United States and the Netherlands – and have pointed out the holes that can cause it to sink. And it seems that there are several.
More doubts than certainties
One of the most critical of Pankoke has been the historian David Barnow, author of ‘The Phenomenon of Anne Frank‘. In statements to the newspaper, he stressed that he had already considered the possibility that Van den Bergh was the culprit, but that he ruled it out because there was only one piece of evidence: an anonymous note pointing to the notary and that the girl’s father, Otto Frankreceived after World War II.
In turn, the Dutch expert has criticized that the investigation has been kept under the strictest secrecy until its conclusions were broadcast on the ’60 minutes’ program last Sunday. In his words, this has prevented the book from being reviewed by experts in the field.
He has not been the only critic. Emile Writer, director of the director of the ‘Jewish Cultural Quarter‘ of Amsterdam, has confirmed that, after reading the investigation just a week ago – the books were not sent to the experts until the last moment – he is convinced that “the evidence is too scant” to single out someone so sharply . “It is a very serious accusation that has been made using many assumptions. The reality is that it is based on nothing more than a small role.
Ronal Leopold, director of the Anne Frank House, agrees with Schrijver. Although he does not deny that the information provided by Pankoke is very valuable, he maintains in ‘The New York Times’ that it must be investigated much more thoroughly and that, at least for the moment, «there is absolutely no basis for reaching a conclusion». In fact, the museum will present the book as a compendium of various theories that have been considered and shuffled over the past few years, and not as a kind of holy grail to be followed blindly.
the list of discord
The biggest enigma of the investigation is the alleged list of refugee hideouts that the ‘Jewish Council of Amsterdam’, an organization in which the notary was, would have had in its possession during the Second World War. According to Pankoke, Arnold van den Bergh gradually handed over this information to the Nazis to buy time for himself and his family.
Laurien Vastenhout, a researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies, disagrees entirely. “Why would people in hiding provide their addresses to the Council? It does not make any sense”.
Leopold confesses that he had heard of these lists, but “only from unreliable sources.” In turn, he added to the Anglo-Saxon outlet that “the ‘Jewish Council’ was under special scrutiny by the occupation forces” and that “it would have been very risky to maintain lists of this style.”
Vastenhout has been more blunt in this regard: «The book is full of errors. They have accused without having any real evidence. Accusing a Jew in this way is like starting over.” Pankoke’s team has defended itself by arguing that, although there is no physical list to cling to, the testimonies confirm that it did exist. Words that offer more enigmas than certainties.