Apology over Dutch book that claimed to identify Anne Frank’s betrayer

Ambo Anthos says it will stop printing The Betrayal of Anne Frank and admits more work is needed

Anne Frank

A Dutch publisher has apologised for a book that made headlines around the world by identifying a Jewish notary as the prime suspect for the betrayal of Anne Frank to the Nazis.

Ambo Anthos has said that it had decided to suspend further prints of The Betrayal of Anne Frank until there was more work done on the book’s central claims.

In a statement, the publishing house said it now believed it had been carried away by “momentum” around publication of the book and that it should have take a more “critical” stance.

HarperCollins, the US publisher which bought the English language rights to the book, were said by Ambo Anthos to have “determined the [book’s] content”. HarperCollins has been contacted for comment.

The Betrayal of Anne Frank, by Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan, is based on six years of research gathered by a team led by retired FBI detective Vince Pankoke.

The book was published on 18 January with some fanfare, including a CBS 60 Minutes programme.

But within 24 hours of publication, historians and researchers had raised doubts about the central theory that Arnold van den Bergh, who died of throat cancer in 1950, had probably led the police to the Frank family’s hiding place above a canal-side warehouse in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam on 4 August 1944.

Critics specifically questioned the evidence behind the claim that as a member of the Jewish council in Amsterdam, an administrative body the German authorities forced Jews to establish, Van den Bergh would probably have had access to the places in which Jewish people were hiding.

Pieter van Twisk, who was part of the investigating team behind the book, said the claims made in the book had been appropriately caveated and that he was perplexed by the publisher’s statement.

The book, a result of a six-year investigation, suggests that Van den Bergh, who acted as notary in the forced sale of works of art to prominent Nazis such as Hermann Göring, had been forced by risks to his own life to use addresses of hiding places as a form of life insurance for his family. Neither he nor his daughter were deported to the Nazi camps.

Following the arrest of the family, Anne was sent to Westerbork transit camp, and on to Auschwitz concentration camp before finally ending up in Bergen-Belsen, where she died in February 1945 at the age of 15, possibly from typhus. Her published diary spans the period in hiding between 1942 and her last entry on 1 August 1944.

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