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Dutch Publisher Pulls Anne Frank Book After Report Discredits Findings

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Unknown photographer / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation has been pulled by Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos after its findings were discredited by a group of prominent historians and researchers. The book, which was published in January 2022, made headlines across the world and has been the subject of harsh criticism.

Overhead view of Bergen-Belsen

Overview of Camp No 1 at Bergen-Belsen, now substantially evacuated, taken from a watch tower used by German guards, April 1945. (Photo Credit: No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Oakes, Sgt. H / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Anne Frank was a German-Dutch Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family during the Second World War. They hid in a secret annex above a warehouse in Amsterdam, during which she wrote a personal diary. The family was discovered by German police in August 1944 and sent to concentration camps. Frank and her sister, Margot, were imprisoned at Auschwitz before being transferred to Bergen-Belsen. They both passed away in 1945, likely of Typhus.

Frank’s diary was later published by her father, Otto Frank, the sole family survivor of the Holocaust, and has since become essential reading in many high schools and higher-learning institutions.

Anne Frank writing at a desk

Anne Frank, 1940. (Photo Credit: Unknown photographer; Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The investigative team behind The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, which included a retired FBI agent, claimed the family’s location was given to the Germans by a Jewish Dutch notary named Arnold van den Bergh. During the war, he was a member of the Amsterdam Jewish Council, an administrative body local Jewish people were forced to establish under the Germans, and had likely given the Franks’ location away in order to save his own family.

According to the team, they came to this conclusion following six years of research and an anonymous letter that was given to Otto Frank, which claimed Van den Bergh was culpable. The book immediately received backlash upon its release, with the European Jewish Congress at one point urging publisher HarperCollins to pull the English-language edition, saying it not only hurt Frank’s legacy, but also tarnished the dignity of Holocaust survivors.

At the center of contention was the claim that the Jewish Council had a list of Jewish people and the places they were hiding.

Reproduction of Anne Frank's diary

A reproduction of Anne Frank’s diary is part of a permanent exhibition about the life of Anne Frank at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance. (Photo Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images)

A new 69-page report from a team of historians and experts has since revealed that The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation‘s research doesn’t stand. Its authors called the book “amateurish,” and said, “There is not any serious evidence for this grave accusation.”

The report added that the book “displays a distinct pattern in which assumptions are made by the CCT (Cold Case Team), held to be true a moment later, and then used as a building block for the next step in the train of logic,” which “make the entire book a shaky house of cards.”

In response, Ambo Anthos, the Dutch publishing house, has pulled the book and requested that stores return their stock. Writing in a statement, it also issued an apology to all those the work offended:

“Tonight at the academic-cultural podium SPUI25 in Amsterdam, a number of prominent experts presented a very critical report on the investigation that is described in the book The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation. Based on the conclusions of this report, we have decided that effective immediately, the book will no longer be available. We will call upon bookstores to return their stock.

“We would once again like to offer our sincere apologies to everyone who has been offended by the contents of this book.”

Anne Frank sitting at a desk with her arms folded

Anne Frank, December 1941. (Photo Credit: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The cold case team’s leader, Pieter van Twisk, has since responded to the report, telling Dutch broadcaster NOS that the historians’ work was “very detailed and extremely solid,” and that it “gives us a number of things to think about, but for the time being I do not see that Van den Bergh can be definitively removed as the main suspect.”

The team behind the book had previously stood behind their research, but said they never claimed to have uncovered the complete truth behind what happened to the Frank family.

Gravestone for Margot and Anne Frank

Flowers and stones lay on and in front of the gravestone of Margot and Anne Frank after a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the former camp site on April 26, 2015, near Lohheide, Germany. (Photo Credit: Alexander Koerner / Getty Images)

At present, HarperCollins has not pulled the English-language edition of The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation. All attempts by media outlets to receive a statement from the publishing house have gone unanswered.