On August 4, 1944, after more than two years in hiding at the Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam, Anne Frank was arrested. What led to the arrest remains unclear to this day. Betrayal seemed to be the only logical conclusion, but by whom and why? Until now, most investigation was done by writers, journalists and/or historians, but never by a team of forensic investigators using cold case techniques and supported by artificial intelligence.
The only survivor
Upon returning from Auschwitz, Otto Frank discovered that he was the sole survivor of the group of eight people that went into hiding in the annex of his company, Opekta. His wife Edith, his two daughters Margot and Anne, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter and the dentist, Fritz Pfeffer, all perished in the concentration camps in Germany and Poland.
Early police investigations
Immediately after the war, Otto urged for an investigation into the arrest. He and his helpers had a strong suspicion that they were betrayed by one of the warehouse workers, Wilhelm van Maaren. However, an investigation by the Dutch police in 1947 led to no conclusive evidence against Van Maaren. A second police investigation into Van Maaren in 1963 also exonerated the former warehouse worker.
In subsequent years , Otto no longer seemed interested in finding the culprit. Several sources indicate that he might have known more about what had happened.
Over the past 73 years, several people have attempted to solve the mystery of the arrest. In 1998, the Austrian journalist and writer, Melissa Müller, published a biography of Anne Frank. She suggested that the cleaning lady, Lena Hartog-van Bladeren. could have been the betrayer. She was the wife of the other warehouse worker at Opekta, Lammert Hartog. But what could her motive have been?
In 2003, the British writer Carol Ann Lee published the biography of Otto Frank. In her research, she stumbled upon the possible blackmail of Otto Frank by a shady character named Tonny Ahlers. She suggested that he might have betrayed the people in the annex. Although this is an interesting theory, no direct evidence for this was ever presented. Did Ahlers even know about the annex, and if he did, why would he betray the person who was paying him money?
Thirty Persons of Interest
Many people investigated the arrest over the years, which resulted in about thirty Persons of Interest. Could it have been one of the neighbors surrounding the annex who saw the people in hiding? Perhaps they were lured by a reward and turned them in? Could it have been the former employee, Joseph "Job" Jansen, who already denounced Otto Frank in 1941, and who suspected Otto of having an affair with his wife, Jetje?
In 2010, another notable suspect was introduced, Ans van Dijk. She was a Jewish woman who was arrested and threatened with deportation. She became a successful agent for the Gestapo and was responsible for dozens of betrayals. It is suggested that her success as a Jew hunter as well as her overtly lesbian lifestyle caused her to be the only woman ever executed after the war. Otto Frank is claimed to have said that they were ‘betrayed by Jews’ and this may support this theory. But how sure are we that Otto really said this?
In 2003, the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) concluded that there was no convincing evidence implicating four of the most important suspects. But new sources could lead to new hypotheses. In 2016, the Anne Frank House (AFH) published another theory on the arrest. After a two-year study, they suggested that the arrest may also have been a coincidence. The raiding party could have been looking for something else and stumbled upon the people in the annex by accident. The result was inconclusive and further investigation was recommended.
Cold Case Diary
To this day, the mystery remains and many questions are left unanswered. Retired FBI agent Vince Pankoke and his team of experts bring a new perspective to these questions. The truth about the arrest of Anne Frank and the others is now being researched utilizing cold case investigative techniques that have only been developed in the past decade. Throughout the investigation, Vince Pankoke will be documenting the progress in his own diary. His entries will describe discoveries of new sources, facts and conclusions about this ultimate cold case.
Who was Anne Frank
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl whose life was cut short at the age of fifteen. She is remembered and celebrated for her diary. Anne penned the diary while she, her family and four others were in hiding from the Nazi-regime. They had spent over two years concealed in the annex of her father’s office building to avoid emigration to one of the camps. Tragically, they were arrested by the Gestapo. Anne would not live to see the Allied liberation in 1945.
Her life in Amsterdam
Anne Frank was born in the German city of Frankfurt am Main in June of 1929. Anne, her parents, Otto and Edith, and her older sister, Margot, were forced to leave Germany because of the growing anti-Semitism in Germany after the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party. They fled to the Netherlands where Otto started a business, Opekta, on Prinsengracht 263. In May 1940, however, Nazi Germany invaded Holland and the family was yet again confronted with restrictive and discriminating laws.
The secret annex
In June 1942, Margot received a notice to report for labor transportation to Germany. In fear of being separated as a family, the Frank family went into hiding in the rear annex of Otto’s office building. In the annex, they were joined by their Jewish friends, the Van Pels family and a dentist named Fritz Pfeffer. The trusted employees of Otto’s company aided the families in hiding.
The arrest and transportation
On August 4, 1944, authorities raided the building and Anne and the others were arrested. Their worst fears came true when the Frank and the Van Pels families, as well as Fritz Pfeffer were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Only Otto Frank survived the war. Anne and Margot died of exhaustion and disease in Bergen-Belsen in the beginning of 1945, shortly before the end of the war. Until this day, it is still unknown whether the police actually knew about the people in hiding when they planned the raid.
The Anne Frank Diary
While in hiding, Anne kept a diary, beginning each entry with "Dear Kitty". She wrote about her daily life, feelings and thoughts in a remarkably talented way, especially for a girl of her age. Anne’s diary was found after the arrest by one of the helpers, secretary Miep Gies. Miep kept it in the hope of returning it to Anne when the war ended. After Otto and Miep received news about Anne’s death, Otto decided to publish the diary. Anne dreamed of becoming a writer and she did. Anne's diary was initially published in 1947 in Dutch, with the title, Het Achterhuis. The English language translation of her diary was published in 1952 under the title, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. ‘Kitty’ would become an inspiration for millions of people around the world.