A team of investigators believes they have identified the man who betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis.
Anne Frank died of typhus in a Nazi concentration camp aged just 15 in 1945 after spending two years in hiding.
Her diary, published as The Diary of a Young Girl after her death, is one of the most famous accounts of Jewish life during the war.
Now a team led by a former FBI agent says they have identified a suspect who may have betrayed Anne and her family – a man called Arnold van den Bergh.
They believe Van den Bergh, who was himself Jewish, probably gave the information to the Nazi authorities to save his own family. He is believed to have died in 1950.
Pieter van Twisk, one of the lead researchers on the ‘cold case’ team, which investigated for six years, said he was “very likely” to have been the culprit, but admitted the evidence they had would not have been enough for a court hearing.
The team used computerized research techniques to track links between Nazi collaborators, informants, and previously published material to make the “very painful” discovery.
They discovered that Van den Bergh was a member of the Jewish Council, a body that was forced by the Nazis to organize the deportation of Jews to death camps.
It was disbanded in 1943 and its members sent to concentration camps, but the team discovered that Mr van den Bergh, a notary, continued to live in Amsterdam.
The former FBI special agent on the team, Vince Pankoke, told CBS 60 Minutes: “In his role as being a founding member of the Jewish Council, he would have had privy to addresses where Jews were hiding.
“When van den Bergh lost all his series of protections exempting him from having to go to the camps, he had to provide something valuable to the Nazis that he’s had contact with to let him and his wife at that time stay safe.”
The team also believes that Anne’s father, Otto, who survived the war, may have known the identity of the suspected betrayer.
They discovered a copy of an anonymous note sent to Otto Frank identifying Arnold van den Bergh as his family’s betrayer.
Pankoke suggested that perhaps Van den Bergh’s name was never made public by Otto because of fear that it could stoke antisemitism.
He told CBS 60 Minutes: “We have to keep in mind that the fact that he was Jewish just meant that he was placed into an untenable position by the Nazis to do something to save his life.”
The research will now be published in a book by Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan, The Betrayal of Anne Frank, to be released on Tuesday, January 18.