Correspondent in Berlin
The news went around the world on January 17: it was the jewish notary
Arnold van den Bergh who tipped off to the Gestapo the location of the hideout of Ana Frank and her family, which resulted in the deportation and death in a concentration camp of the iconic girl of the Holocaust. This was stated by the leader of the investigative team that included a former FBI agent. But after the numerous criticisms that his thesis has received, the Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos has published a letter this morning retracting and apologizing. At the moment, in addition, the printing of the book ‘The betrayal of Anne Frank’, in which the investigation was to be published, has been suspended.
In the letter, the publisher states that “we are very sorry that the content (…) has caused such a reaction.” «We apologize sincerely to anyone who feels offended by the book,” he adds, “we are aware that the international publication has been refuted by arguments that throw us to the ground and that a more critical stance would have been possible here. We are awaiting responses from the research team to the questions posed by the publisher and we postpone the decision to reprint for the moment”.
The book was to be published simultaneously in English (“The Betrayal of Anne Frank”) and Dutch on January 18, as well as in French and Spanish, by the American publisher HarperCollins, but the the rest of the editors have not yet commented. The author Rosemary Sullivan, who presents the thesis of an international team specialized in cold cases, defends that the Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh betrayed Anne Frank and her family to save her own. Van den Bergh would have passed information about the refugee hideouts to the Nazis to save himself. The research team, made up of twenty historians, criminologists and former FBI agent Vince Pankoke, came to accurately calculate the probability of Van den Bergh’s betrayal, with a “85% certainty” of his guilt.
Forensic analyst Frans Alkemade, on whose report the team had based that percentage, put this interpretation into perspective last Friday, on the Dutch news portal “NRC” and revealed that the number had been made public by the team of investigators as a absolute probability, although it was only a conditional probability. The 85% probability only occurs if the data and facts that Alkemade had transmitted to the calculation tool were correct, but Alkemade I had no way to verify this data. The statesman is currently consulting with investigators, in order to make a joint statement on the matter.
The statesman’s doubts are just the last straw for the editorial. The Dutch historian Bart Wallett had described the theory as “unstable as a house of cards» and his colleague Bart van der Boom referred to the publication as “defamatory nonsense”. Dutch researcher David Barnouw, who has personally worked on various theories about Anne Frank’s capture since the beginning of this century, had told the Dutch broadcaster NOS that the results of the report were “pure speculation hidden behind supposedly precisely measurable data. “For historians, this 85% probability is quite ridiculous. History is not rocket science,” he had scoffed at the approach. There had also been criticism for historical errors and inaccuracies, as well as incomplete and improbable evidence.