Exactly how the Holocaust’s most famous victim came to be captured by the Nazis has intrigued the public for decades. Now, a team led by an ex-FBI agent hopes to discover exactly who betrayed Anne Frank and her family, leading to their capture and deaths, in a cold case review officially launched on Sunday.
According to the project’s website, filmmaker Thijs Bayens and journalist Pieter Van Twisk assembled a team of 19 experts led by ex-FBI agent Vince Pankoke. They will use modern policing techniques to examine recently declassified material, review all the previous materials and appeal to witnesses in an attempt to find out who alerted the Nazis to the so-called Secret Annex where the Frank family was hiding.
The goal is to present the results of the investigation and its findings on August 4, 2019, exactly 75 years after the discovery of the secret annex. Progress is being shared online as the investigation goes on in a “Cold Case Diary.”
Pankoke is to lead a team of 19 forensic investigators with different areas of expertise.
“It will be conducted using modern law enforcement investigative techniques,” the website states. “The research team is multidisciplinary, using methods of cold case detectives, historians, but also psychologists, profilers, data analysts, forensic scientists and criminologists. In this way, new light will be brought to the events.”
The investigation will also use “specially developed software” which will allow the team to analyze the data and look for connections that may otherwise not be apparent, it said.
“In the future, this information may be used to solve others cases of arrest and betrayal during Nazi occupation,” the website said.
On the project website, Pankoke wrote: “Even though we haven’t even started officially with the investigation, I have already found unique materials that were never linked to Anne Frank before.”
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has welcomed the investigation and made its archives available to the investigating team, despite publishing its own conclusions in December, which found that Anne Frank and her family were not necessarily “betrayed,” but could have been the victims of happenstance in a Nazi-occupied city brimming with resistance activities.
Nevertheless Britain’s The Guardian reported that Pankoke hopes his team will be able to uncover the truth.
“We are not trying to point fingers or prosecute. I am just trying to solve the last case of my career,” he said. “There is no statute of limitation on the truth.”
Pankoke said that he has already found new material which may be relevant to the case that has not yet been analyzed.
“I’ve spent a lot of time of the United States National Archives and found documents there from Amsterdam that I was told didn’t exist,” Pankoke said. “Some of them are water damaged or fire damaged, and they are in technical military German, so it’s going to take a while. But we have found lists of names of Jews arrested having being betrayed, lists of informants and names of Gestapo agents who lived in Amsterdam. All that can go into the data store, and we can find connections.”
Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews, hid from the Nazis in the backrooms of an Amsterdam office building belonging to the company of Anne’s father, Otto Frank. The Nazis raided the so-called Secret Annex on August 4, 1944, and deported them all to concentration camps.
Anne and her sister, Margot, were transferred from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died (probably of typhus) a few months later. Otto Frank was the only person from the Secret Annex to survive the Holocaust.
Matt Lebovic contributed to this report.