Betrayal or accident? New theory sheds light on arrest of Anne Frank

File photo: Minister of Education Ronald Plasterk looks at a facsimile of Anne Frank’s dairy after a news conference in Amsterdam, June 11, 2009.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

Historians have long believed that Anne Frank’s arrest was the result of betrayal, but experts in the Netherlands a proposal for an alternative theory about her capture by the Nazis.

Anne Frank and seven other Jews hid in the secret annex on the Prinsengracht street in Amsterdam at the beginning of 1942, until the Nazis discovered and arrested them on August 4, 1944. That devastating discovery eventually led to the death of everyone, save for Otto Frank, Anne and her sister lost in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

But while the conventional wisdom has always been that the group of people in hiding were betrayed, the Anne Frank House is a challenge that assumption in a new research report. They have proposed: What if the group was just discovered by accident?

“Despite decades of research, a betrayal, as a point of departure has been nothing conclusive,” Ronald Leopold, general director of the Anne Frank House, said in a statement. “The Anne Frank House in the new study does not refute the possibility that the people in hiding were betrayed, but illustrates that other scenarios should also be considered. Hopefully more researchers will see reason to follow up new leads.”

The Anne Frank House, the new research report (summarized in a concise document) focuses on a few details that suggest that the group could have been discovered by accident, perhaps by the authorities were investigating whether there are other activities— such as food-ration card fraud or people who are illegally happening at the building where the secret annex was located.


The one corner of the research focuses on the government who actually carried out the raid. The report states that three of the men in the raid may not have been first and foremost looking for Jews in hiding, and may have been investigating something else; specifically, man, Gezinus Gringhuis, no longer worked for the Sicherheitsdienst (German security Service), and in its place was an organization called Special Unit of the Central Research Division, where his responsibilities include not hunting on Jews, but the investigations of economic offences,” the document says.

Another angle focuses on a call to the Sicherheitsdienst which supposedly took place before the arrest, the tipping-off of the authorities. The report points out that the phone numbers for that service is not listed at that time. “This creates a real possibility that the call, if it actually occurred, is sourced from other government agencies,” the document says.

Yet another prompt came from Anne’s diary itself, in which they are mentioned more than once the fact that two people were arrested for their involvement in illegal food ration cards.


Ultimately, the new report does not exclude the possibility that the group was betrayed, but it does call to people to explore “new leads.”

“It is clear that the last word on that fateful summer day in 1944 has not yet been said,” close the document.

Follow Rob Koster on Twitter: @robverger

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