A cold case team combs through evidence. This group has been at it for five years. The investigators want to unravel one of World War II’s enduring mysteries. Team members reached what they call the “most likely scenario.” But some other experts question their work. The hard reality may be that world may never know the truth of an even harder reality: Who betrayed beloved child diarist Anne Frank?
Most know Anne’s story: In an Amsterdam shop, the Frank family and four other Jews hid in rooms behind a bookcase from July 1942 until their discovery in August 1944. Nazis sent all eight to concentration camps. Only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived. Fifteen-year-old Anne and her sister died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Otto Frank published Anne’s diary after the war. Read by millions, the book became a symbol of hope and resilience under the most difficult and horrific of circumstances.
Despite numerous investigations over the years, the person who revealed the location of the Franks’ hiding place remained unknown.
Filmmaker Thijs Bayens hoped to solve the mystery. He gathered a team led by retired U.S. FBI agent Vincent Pankoke. “We have investigated over 30 suspects in 20 different scenarios,” Bayens says.
The team’s findings suggest that Otto Frank received a note after the war. It disclosed the possible involvement of Arnold van den Bergh, a member of Amsterdam’s Jewish community and the city’s Jewish Council. A typed copy of the note was an overlooked part of a decades-old Amsterdam police investigation.
The team speculates that to save his own family, Van den Bergh may have given the Nazis a list of addresses where Jews were hiding.
But Bayens quickly adds, “We don’t have 100% certainty.”
Not everyone admires the investigation’s finding. John Goldsmith from the Anne Frank Fund calls it “a conspiracy theory” and “full of errors.”
Several experts insist Van den Bergh’s family was in hiding at the time of the betrayal. Therefore, he would not have risked emerging to give his enemies a list.
Historian Annemiek Gringold is curator at the Dutch National Holocaust Museum. “The very notion that the Jewish Council had lists of hiding addresses is not proven, known, or shown,” she says. “All experts I heard until now confirm this is not true.” She continues, “[Implicating Arnold Van den Bergh] is taking it even one step further.”
The Anne Frank House museum welcomes the new research but says it leaves questions unanswered. Director Ronald Leopold says, “I don’t think we can say that a mystery has been solved.”
To date, only one thing is certain: Guilt for the deaths of Anne Frank and more than 100,000 other Dutch Jews (and 6,000,000 Jews of all nationalities) lies with the Nazis.
Why? Human treachery contrasts sharply with God’s character. He values truth and loyalty—and never deals in deception, conspiracies, or betrayal. Yet in His great mercy, He offers grace to all sinners who trust in His perfect righteousness and provision in Christ.