A new study says that world-famous wartime diarist Anne Frank may have been in fact discovered by chance, rather than betrayal.
Researchers at the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam believe that the address could have been raided over ration fraud, and that the police that found the secret annexe might not have been looking for the eight Jews there.
The raid resulted in all those hiding there to be transported to the Auschwitz death camps.
Summarising its findings, the Anne Frank House said: “The question has always been: Who betrayed Anne Frank and the others in hiding? This explicit focus on betrayal, however, limits the perspective on the arrest.”
For decades, the common theory has been that Anne Frank’s family was betrayed, possibly by a new employee at her father’s business or a conspirator’s wife, unsympathetic to the plight of the eight Jews.
Supposedly not long before the raid, an anonymous call was made to the German Security Service revealing the details of the secret annexe, but this account is questioned.
For decades, Anne’s father, Otto, tried to figure out who tipped off the Nazis — a question historians have debated for 72 years.
— Anne Frank Trust (@AnneFrankTrust) July 27, 2016
Using diary entries from March 1944, researchers have found that it was illegal working activities and ration coupon fraud that may have triggered the raid.
From March 10 1994 onwards, Anne repeatedly wrote about the arrest of two men who dealt in these fraudulent ration cards. The pair were salesmen for a firm based at the same address that Anne was hiding, and indeed her father Otto Frank had a business.
Anne writes on March 14: “B and D have been caught, so we have no coupons…”
B and D refer to Martin Brouwer and Pieter Daatzelaar, the counterfeiters.
This shows that the Frank family got at least some of their food coupons secretly from these salesmen.
The police reports
Analysing judicial documents and police reports the researchers also found that the police that ended up finding Anne and her companions were not usually tasked with hunting down Jews in hiding.
They had instead a history of working on cases involving jewellery, securities and cash. Further records show that the police stayed there for over two hours, longer than it should have taken to arrest those hiding.
More evidence shoes that people linked to the address had been punished by the Nazi occupiers for evading work.
“A company where people were working illegally and two sales representatives were arrested for dealing in ration coupons obviously ran the risk of attracting the attention of the authorities,” the researchers wrote.
“In any case, the Anne Frank House’s investigative report indicates that more was going on in the building (than) only people being hidden there,” it says. “The possibility of betrayal has of course not been entirely ruled out by this. … Clearly, the last word about that fateful summer day in 1944 has not yet been said.”
No concrete evidence has ever been found over who betrayed Anne Frank and her family. Anne ultimately died of typhus aged 15. Her father Otto was the only one of the annexe’s eight occupants to survive World War Two.