This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent John Wertheim reports a new look at a decades-old question that has confused many readers of The Diary of Anne Frank: who betrayed the Frank family and their secret covenants hidden behind a bookcase. To lead a search team?
Wertheim talks to Vince Pankoke, a retired FBI agent. Beginning in 2016, Pankok leads a team of expert investigators equipped with modern crime-solving techniques to attempt to solve the case. Among other investigative strategies, he used artificial intelligence to sift through many original data and documents.
Pancock and his team spent hours looking for clues in hidden rooms behind a warehouse in Amsterdam, where the Frank family and four other Jews hid for more than two years.
In analyzing who may have reported the location to police, investigators adopted a standard law enforcement axiom to assess suspects and looked for “knowledge, motive, opportunity”. The Pankok team wondered: did the alleged traitor know the location of the secret annex? After this the team checked the pattern. Was the traitor anti-Semitic? Did he do this for money? As an occasion, the team considered whether the suspect was in Amsterdam at the time of the August 1944 raid or had the potential to defraud the whereabouts.
The evidence that led the Pankok investigators to their conclusion pointed to the alleged traitor as much as ruled out other suspects, including some who had previously been the subject of speculation.
In a 2002 biography of Anne Frank’s father, Otto, author Carol Ann Lee suggested that the traitor may have been Tony Ahlers, a Dutch National Socialist. The Ahlers were among the suspects, Pankok and his team investigated and ultimately denied.
The case against the Ahlers breaks down, with Pancock telling Wertheim about the knowledge.
“There was a lot of information that pointed to Tony Ahlers as a possible suspect,” Pancock said. “However, after Otto Frank went into hiding, Tony Ahlers was doing other jobs in different parts of the city. It was clear that Tony Ahlers did not know that Otto Frank and the others were hiding in the contract.”
Ans Van Dijko
Another book states that the suspect may be a Jewish woman. In his 2018 book The Secret Annex Backyard author Gerard Kramer claimed that Ans van Dijk deceived the people hiding in the annex. Van Dijk was executed after the war for collaborating with the Nazis and betraying dozens of other Jews.
Pankok and his team eliminate him as a suspect for a variety of reasons.
“At first, at the time of the betrayal, she was out of town,” Pankok explained. “She was working out of town, not near Amsterdam. Secondly, there was nothing that connected her with information that would have let her know that people were there. In the annex.”
There was another important reason why Pancock removed Van Dijk from the suspect list.
After the war, Otto Frank, the only member of his family who survived the Holocaust, made a statement that he knew who his traitor was. According to Pancock, Van Dijk had betrayed the family of Otto Frank’s second wife. Had Frank known that Van Dijk had also betrayed his family, Pancock explained, he would have had no incentive to keep the information a secret.
William Van Marne
One of the people most investigated as a possible traitor is Wilhelm van Maaren, a worker at the warehouse where the Franks were hiding. The men hiding in the annex suspected Van Maaren, and Anne Frank documented their suspicions in her diary.
But Pancock said Van Maaren was not considered a suspect after investigators had reviewed all the information he had received.
“At first glance, you’d think, OK, we got that guy,” Pankok said. “But every time you go through all the evidence, you find that he wasn’t anti-Semitic. And he probably wasn’t capable of betrayal, because if he betrayed the addendum, he knew he’d lose his job.” Will give
arnold van den burgho
The team screened dozens of potential suspects before reaching the man they believe had left Franks’ location: Arnold van den Berg.
The Pancock team found that Van den Berg, a prominent Jewish businessman in Amsterdam with a wife and children, lived an open life in the middle of Nazi-occupied Holland, when Jews were being sent to concentration camps. According to Pancock, for van den Berg to receive this level of protection, he must have had some influence over the Nazis.
“Van den Berg was not expelled,” said Peter van Twisk, a veteran Dutch journalist who co-founded the investigative project and led the research team. “And we went to the city archives and found evidence that he was actually ‘Aryanized,’ so he lost his Jewish identity during the war. It was quite an achievement. You couldn’t do that.”
Pancock also showed Wertheim a note, which investigators say Otto Frank received after the war, which specifically names van den Berg as the traitor.