Researcher Dr. Gertjan Broek of the Anne Frank House issued a report on Friday suggesting it wasn’t betrayal that led to the Frank family’s hiding place being raided in August 1944, but that their hiding place was found by accident. Dr. Broek used known sources as well as newly discovered information, including Anne Frank’s diary entries from March 1944 not previously used as a primary source, to develop his new perspective on the event.
From July 6, 1942 until August 4, 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands, the rear annex of the canal-side building at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam served as a hiding place for a group of Jews. One of them was Anne Frank. Her father Otto had moved his company to that location at the end of 1940. A handful of his employees helped the people taking refuge there for just over two years, until they were discovered and arrested along with two of their helpers. Of the inhabitants of the Secret Annex, only Otto Frank survived the war.
The scene has been portrayed on stage and in films, writes Broek, “booted Germans determinedly taking the long flight of stairs up to the Secret Annex. A while later, the people in hiding and two helpers carted away in a vehicle. And the telephone call, another well-known part of the story: shortly before the raid an anonymous caller supposedly revealing the whereabouts of the inhabitants of the Secret Annex to the Sicherheitsdienst or SD (German Security Service).”
But how accurate is this portrayal? Broek asks. “Did the investigators who entered the building actually know there were Jews hiding on the premises?”
Official records say that between half past ten and eleven o’clock in the morning a few investigators appeared in front of the building at 263 Prinsengracht and took the stairs to the second-floor offices. There they found a group of employees busy with their daily activities. Those were the four people directly involved with helping the hidden Jews: Jo Kleiman, Bep Voskuijl, Miep Gies, and the company’s acting director Victor Kugler.
The investigators questioned Kugler, then searched the building with him. The others stayed behind in the office. Bep Voskuijl left the premises without being noticed. Miep Gies’ husband Jan arrived as usual around noon and just walked into the office, which means the building and the office were not being guarded. Bep told Jan about what was going on upstairs and he left immediately. Jan then told Kleiman’s brother who worked nearby and together they walked to the bridge opposite the building, where a vehicle was now standing in front of the door. At one o’clock, the hiding Jews, Kleiman, and Kugler were driven away.
Three of the hunters’s names are known: Silberbauer, Grootendorst, and Gringhuis. It has been assumed that hunting down and arresting Jews was their primary activity, but newly discovered sources suggest otherwise.
Of the three, Karl Silberbauer, an Austrian policeman, was directly involved in eight other cases involving jewelry, securities, and cash, and only one other raid of Jews in hiding.
Willem Grootendorst had been with the Amsterdam police for thirty years before going to work for the Sicherheitsdienst from April 1943 until March 1945. He regularly arrested both Jews and non-Jews targeted by the Sicherheitsdienst.
Gezinus Gringhuis had worked for the Amsterdam police since 1918. From August 1942 until April 1944 he was dispatched to the Bureau Jewish Affairs and later the Sicherheitsdienst, focusing on violators of the anti-Jewish regulations, such as those going into hiding. Gringhuis also oversaw the confiscation of furniture from the homes of deported Jews. From May to November 1944, he worked in criminal inquiries for the Special Unit of the Central Investigation Division in The Hague. This means that his presence at the Franks’ hiding place was not part of his duties, and that he was not engaged in hunting down Jews.
In November 1945, Otto Frank wrote letters expressing his certainty that he and his family had been betrayed. Looking through mug shots, he recognized Gringhuis and Grootendorst.
In 1946, Frank and his team expressed suspicions against Willem van Maaren, who had begun working in Frank’s warehouse in March 1943. Van Maaren, who was not taken into confidence, was considered a risk. In fact, Anne, who never met him, commented negatively about him in her diary.
According to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf of November 22, 1963, Otto Frank said about Van Maaren: “We suspected him all along and reported him to the postwar authority investigating people accused of collaborating with the Nazi occupier.” However, on the very same day, the Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad quoted Frank as saying: “I never took any actions against the warehouse worker. I do not know the man and I have no evidence against him.” Van Maaren was investigated and released for lack of evidence by a Dutch district court judge.
Anne Frank’s biographer Melissa Müller suggested that Lena Hartog, the wife of another warehouse worker, was the betrayer.
Otto Frank’s biographer Carol Ann Lee believed Dutch National Socialist Tonny Ahlers was the betrayer.
In the 2003 publication Who betrayed Anne Frank? authors David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, established that the theories related to Van Maaren, Hartog, and Ahlers do not stand up to scrutiny.
Dutch journalist Sytze van der Zee pointed to Ans van Dijk, who was executed in 1948 for betraying Jews, as the one who betrayed the Franks.
“The Anne Frank House’s current investigation into the above mentioned suspects has not provided convincing evidence to support any of these theories,” Dr. Broek reports. Indeed, despite decades of research, betrayal as the cause for the Franks’ capture never resulted in conclusive proof. Broek suggests that more was going on in the building than just Jews being hidden there, and the authorities raided 263 Prinsengracht for other reasons.JNi.Media