AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The raid on Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam may have been over illegal trade in food rations and other issues and not the result of betrayal, new research suggests.
On Friday, the Anne Frank House in the Dutch capital published the results of its research into what led policemen working for the Nazi occupation authorities to the home of the family of the teenage Jewish diarist, whose writing became world famous after she perished at the age of 15 in a concentration camp.
The findings are potentially controversial because the story of Anne Frank is seen as emblematic both of Dutch heroism during the Holocaust and of collaboration with the Nazis – for which Dutch prime ministers have consistently declined to apologize despite calls to do so.
“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,” the Anne Frank House wrote in the five-page summary of the new study, which relies also on entries from Anne’s diary.
The entries, the study suggests, show the hiding house on Prinsengracht 263 was tied to activities punishable under the Nazi occupation in addition to Dutch underground fighters’ sheltering of Jews there.
“Anne Frank’s diary did provide an interesting new clue,” the study reads. “Beginning on March 10, 1944, she repeatedly wrote about the arrest of two men who dealt in illegal ration cards. She calls them ‘B’ and ‘D,’ referring to the salesmen Martin Brouwer and Pieter Daatzelaar.”
The two men represented Gies & Co., a company that was affiliated with the Opekta firm owned by Anne Frank’s father, Otto, and located on Prinsengracht 263.
“B. and D. have been caught, so we have no coupons,” Anne Frank wrote on March 14, 1944. “This clearly indicates that the people in hiding got at least part of their ration coupons from these salesmen,” the study states.
Other evidence shows that people associated with Prinsengracht 263 had been punished by the Nazi occupation 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 author of the new study wrote. “While searching for people in hiding, fraud with ration coupons could be detected since they were often dependent on clandestine help.”
Yet, “until now the assumption related to this matter” has always been that agents working for the occupation “were specifically looking for Jews in hiding” when they raided the hiding place, the authors continued.
Over the years, researchers have presented various hypotheses on who may have betrayed the Franks to the Nazis, though none of the suspects were accepted as consensus.
“Despite decades of research, betrayal as a point of departure has delivered nothing conclusive,” Ronald Leopold, the executive director of the Anne Frank House, said about the study. The investigation “does not refute the possibility that the people in hiding were betrayed, but illustrates that other scenarios should also be considered.”