Ultimate cold case: Who be­trayed Anne Frank?

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - EVENTS - By Stephanie van den Berg, An­thony Deutsch

Comb­ing through ar­chives has al­ready yielded ma­te­rial not pre­vi­ously linked with the Anne Frank case, in­clud­ing a list of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors in Am­s­ter­dam found in the U.S. na­tional ar­chives, he said. The “Cold Case Di­ary” is not aimed at seek­ing pros­e­cu­tion. It is in­tended to be com­pleted by Au­gust 4, 2019, to mark 75 years since Anne Frank’s ar­rest.

AM­S­TER­DAM (Reuters) - A for­mer FBI agent is head­ing up a cold case team more than 70 years af­ter Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion po­lice stormed the se­cret Am­s­ter­dam canal house an­nex where Anne Frank was hid­ing and sent her to her death in a con­cen­tra­tion camp.

Sus­pi­cions that some­one be­trayed the Frank fam­ily are not new, but the lat­est at­tempt will seek out new con­nec­tions in the case of the Jewish girl whose di­ary has cap­ti­vated mil­lions of read­ers world­wide.

Re­tired agent Vin­cent Pankoke said he had high hopes of solv­ing one of the big­gest World War Two mys­ter­ies in the Nether­lands with the help of Big Data and modern polic­ing tech­niques.

“This is the ultimate cold case,” Pankoke, who is head­ing a 20-mem­ber team work­ing out of Am­s­ter­dam, told Reuters in an in­ter­view. ”Seventy three years af­ter the ar­rest, for­get foren­sic ev­i­dence, most of the peo­ple who could give wit­ness state­ments are no longer alive.”

A mas­ter data­base will be com­piled with lists of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, in­for­mants, his­toric doc­u­ments, po­lice records and prior re­search that could pro­vide new leads.

“We are go­ing to load ev­ery piece of data we can find from the time pe­riod,” he said. “There is so much in­for­ma­tion that is out there that has never been looked at.”

Comb­ing through ar­chives has al­ready yielded ma­te­rial not pre­vi­ously linked with the Anne Frank case, in­clud­ing a list of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors in Am­s­ter­dam found in the U.S. na­tional ar­chives, he said.

The “Cold Case Di­ary” is not aimed at seek­ing pros­e­cu­tion. It is in­tended to be com­pleted by Au­gust 4, 2019, to mark 75 years since Anne Frank’s ar­rest.

“We are do­ing it be­cause we feel the case must be solved,” said Thijs Bayens, a Dutch film­maker, who helped launch the project, which has been self-funded with ex­perts do­nat­ing time.

Crowd fund­ing

The team, which is re­ly­ing on crowd fund­ing and is es­ti­mated to need up to $5 mil­lion to com­plete its work, has ap­pealed to the pub­lic to come for­ward with in­for­ma­tion that may shed new light on the ar­rest.

Anne was dis­cov­ered on Au­gust 4, 1944 af­ter two years in hid­ing. Miep Gies, one of the fam­ily’s helpers in hid­ing, kept Anne’s di­ary safe un­til it was pub­lished by Anne’s fa­ther, Otto, in 1947, two years af­ter Anne died in the Ber­gen Belsen camp at age 15. It has been trans­lated into 60 lan­guages.

“The nicest part is be­ing able to write down all my thoughts and feel­ings; oth­er­wise, I’d ab­so­lutely suf­fo­cate,” she wrote in March, 1944.

The Anne Frank Foun­da­tion, which main­tains the Frank’s Am­s­ter­dam house for visi­tors, is as­sist­ing Pankoke’s team.

“We shared our in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the ar­rest,“said spokes­woman An­nemarie Bekker. ”It looks good and we are cu­ri­ous about their re­sults.

Re­spected his­to­ri­ans who have pub­lished prior re­search on the sub­ject, in­clud­ing those from the Dutch World War Two re­search cen­tre NIOD, will work as con­sul­tants on the project.

“They have agreed to help us and share ev­ery­thing with­out con­di­tions just to try and solve this mys­tery: Was it a betrayal? Was it an ac­ci­dent? What hap­pened?,” Pankoke said.

Am­s­ter­dam-based data com­pany Xom­nia has de­vel­oped al­go­rithms that Pankoke said may re­veal new links and con­nec­tions based on the wealth of in­for­ma­tion “that a hu­man in their life­time might not be able to re­view”.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions in 1948 and 1963 too nar­rowly fo­cused on one in­di­vid­ual, ware­house man­ager Willem van Maaren, with­out ex­am­in­ing al­ter­na­tive sce­nar­ios.

In its 2016 study, the Anne Frank Foun­da­tion con­cluded that it was pos­si­ble that the fam­ily had not been be­trayed at all, but dis­cov­ered by ac­ci­dent dur­ing a raid by Ger­man in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials.

“De­spite decades of re­search, betrayal as a point of de­par­ture has de­liv­ered noth­ing con­clu­sive,” Ron­ald Leopold, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Anne Frank House, said.

“We are pleased that ‘Cold Case Di­ary’ is also car­ry­ing out re­search into the ar­rest and fol­low­ing new leads, and we are in­ter­ested to see the re­sults.”

Anne’s di­ary has been trans­lated into 60 lan­guages.

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