The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most famous testimonies of Nazi barbarism. At the end of the war, Otto Frank, Anne’s father, decided to publish his texts. The goal was to warn against anti-Semitism and ethnic marginalization, but also to give a voice to all victims of Nazism, through her daughter.
One of the most visited sites in Amsterdam, after the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, where she and seven other people hid for 761 days, has become a historic place at the heart of financial stakes and memorials.
75 years ago, Anne Frank’s diary appeared
World famous, the diary of this young German Jewish girl, which she wrote between the ages of 13 and 15, was officially published on June 25, 1947.
This is one of the most famous testimonies of Nazi barbarism. On June 25, 1947, after the Second World War, The Diary of Anne Frank was published for the first time, in Dutch, at the instigation of her father, Otto Frank. This young German Jew, who dreamed of becoming a writer, kept this diary from June 12, 1942 to August 1, 1944, between the ages of 13 and 15. Three days later, she was arrested and then deported with her family to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
As the persecutions against the Jews increased, the family of Anne Frank, who moved to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 1934, were forced into hiding in July 1942 in rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where the father family works. Until the arrest of the family by the Gestapo on August 4, 1944, Anne will transcribe in her diary, which she had received as a birthday present, her daily life.
30 million copies sold worldwide
Seven months after her arrest in August 1944, Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945. Her father, Otto Frank, was the only survivor of the family. He recovered his daughter’s diary in June 1945, upon his return to Amsterdam, and sought to have it published immediately.
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Over the years, this work has become one of the best-selling books in the world and continues to serve as inspiration for several plays and films. Sales exceeded 30 million copies, according to the Anne Frank Foundation. In French, two publishers hold the rights to this world-famous book: Calmann-Lévy, who first published it in 1950, and the pocket book edition (small book), since 1958.
Google pays tribute to this book
75 years later, Google pays tribute to this book that has become world famous, by displaying a doodle on its homepage. It is the artistic director of Doodle herself, Thoka Maer, who took care of the illustration, indicates the search engine. First published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl, The Diary of Anne Frank has been translated into over 70 languages around the world.
Who denounced Anne Frank?
Blackmail is a mechanism of alienation in a totalitarian society.
According to a book based on the investigation of a former FBI agent, the main suspect in the denunciation of Anne Frank and her family in 1944 to the Nazis is a Jewish notary who did it to save his own family.
After more than two years hiding above her father’s warehouse, Anne Frank and seven others were arrested by Nazi Germany soldiers and Dutch government officials on August 4, 1944. The investigation into the circumstances at the origin of this discovery is still relevant, 75 years later.
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Today, historians, scientists and even a forensic team specializing in cold cases are using new technologies to identify the informant and some of them suggest that this discovery was only the result of chance .
Over time, more than 30 people have been suspected of betraying Anne Frank, her friends and her family.
Among the accused is an overly curious warehouse worker, who worked under the hideout of the group of which Anne Frank was a part. During the two investigations opened against him in 1947 and 1963, Wilhelm Geradus van Maaren always maintained that he was not the informant and, due to lack of evidence, no charges were brought against him. The other suspect, a woman this time, Lena Hartog-van Bladeren, was helping with pest control in the warehouse and allegedly suspected that people were hiding there, even going so far as to start this dangerous rumor. However, interviews conducted later did not show that Lena knew that people were occupying the factory before they were flushed out by law enforcement.
The list of suspects does not stop there; their common point being the total absence of evidence which would make it possible to prove the guilt or the innocence of the interested parties. Principal investigator for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Gertjan Broek believes that the search for an informant could prevent researchers from finding out what really happened. “Asking ‘Who betrayed Anne Frank?’ you are narrowing the field of possibilities. You immediately rule out other options,” he explains.
It’s entirely possible the Franks weren’t betrayed, they could just have been discovered by accident. After two years of searching, Broek suggests they may have been discovered during a search related to ration ticket fraud.
When cross-checked, the few proven facts of the day of the arrest corroborate this hypothesis. First of all, when they arrived the German and Dutch authorities did not have a vehicle to transport the people they ended up discovering, they had to improvise. Then, one of the three officers dispatched to the scene was assigned to the economic crime squad. Finally, two men supplying the Franks and their friends with fraudulent ration tickets were arrested but charges were dropped against one of them for unknown reasons. It is possible that one of the two dealers managed to make a deal with the authorities; one of the officers in charge of the ticket case was also part of the team that discovered Anne Frank’s hiding place.
Although this theory seems plausible, Broek still fails to prove it. “Of course, there is ultimately no conclusive evidence, unfortunately. But the more we discover new clues, the more the noose tightens. This is the main interest of this research. »
Another group made up of experts in criminology, forensic science and data science also hopes to narrow the list of potential culprits to a single individual. Led by ex-FBI agent Vincent Pankoke, this team approaches the investigation as a modern cold case. For years, they scoured archives and traveled the world to interview sources while using 21st century technologies to verify their leads. The team even 3D modeled the Franks’ hideout to see how sound traveled to nearby buildings.
The team also uses artificial intelligence to uncover hidden connections between individuals, places and events related to the case. Xomnia, a company specializing in data science, has developed a dedicated program capable of analyzing archival texts to map these networks, nuance them and organize them according to different layers.
“It is for example possible to see how many times names or words are used together. If some of them are frequently used together, then you can identify a certain type of network and proceed to analyze it,” said Robert van Hintum, principal data scientist at Xomnia. In particular, addresses can be cross-referenced with family relations and police reports to see who could have been involved in various events that occurred in the Franks’ neighborhood or who was informed of these events.
“Bringing all these dimensions together gives rise to a point of view that was previously inaccessible,” explains van Hintum.
Called Cold Case Diary, this team will reveal its results in a book expected next year.
Of the seven Jewish people hiding with Anne, only Otto Frank, Anne’s father, survived the war. It may be too late today to bring the culprits to justice, but given the recent rise in anti-Semitism around the world, this research takes on particular importance. “By understanding what really happened to Anne Frank, her family and friends, we can better understand how individuals treat each other and thus prepare for the future.
Sources: PinterPandai, Britannica, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Geographic
Photo credit: Author: passport photographs Piolyfoto. Source: de Volkskrant, 9 June 2021 (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons (Passport photographs of Anne Frank, 1939)