Who betrayed Anne Frank? What happened to Jewish teen hunted by Nazis - Arnold van den Bergh links explained

Anne Frank’s diary gave an account of what daily life was like for her family when they were hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam

<p>Anne Frank died in a concentration camp at the age of 15 just weeks before World War 2 ended (image: DDP/AFP/Getty Images)</p>

Anne Frank died in a concentration camp at the age of 15 just weeks before World War 2 ended (image: DDP/AFP/Getty Images)

World War II was a massive global conflict during which there was an appalling loss of life and terrible suffering - something we are now seeing again after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One human story that emerged from the Second World War that has come to stand out from all of this horror is Anne Frank’s diary.

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The Jewish teenager from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, penned the now world-famous account of daily life in hiding from the Nazis after they invaded her country.

Anne Frank’s diary has been translated into more than 60 languages (image: Getty Images)

Almost 80 years on from her capture, cold-case investigators thought they had identified a person they believe gave her up to the Nazis - Arnold van den Bergh - although, it appears this assertion has now been discredited.

So who exactly was Anne Frank, why was van den Bergh accused of giving her up - and has this assertion been debunked?

Who was Anne Frank?

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929.

This was a period of upheaval in the country, which was struggling economically.

At the time, the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler was gaining momentum in part by capitalising on antisemitic undercurrents in German society.

Anne Frank (pictured, c, with her father Otto and sister Margot) was born in Germany just before it came under full Nazi control (image: AFP/Getty Images)

They would go on to gain complete power over the country in 1933, after which they began to crack down on Jewish communities more and more.

Soon after Anne Frank’s birth, her parents Otto and Edith decided to move to the Netherlands, settling in Amsterdam.

But just a few years later in 1940, when she was 10-years-old, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and introduced a swathe of antisemitic laws, including rules that prohibited Jews from visiting parks or non-Jewish shops and owning their own businesses.

Before long, it was believed the Nazis planned to remove all Jewish people from the Netherlands.

The last-known image of Anne Frank before her death (image: AFP/Getty Images)

Anne Frank’s older sister Margot was summoned to attend a ‘labour camp’ in Nazi Germany on 5 July 1942.

Otto and Edith were suspicious of this order, however, and decided to take their family into hiding in an annex in Otto’s former office at 263 Prinsengracht to avoid further persecution.

Anne Frank had been given a diary just before she was forced into hiding, and spent her time in the annex detailing everyday life, as well as her thoughts and feelings.

But on 4 August 1944, her hiding place was raided by Nazi secret police force the Gestapo and she was sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where much of the Holocaust took place.

Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam is now a museum covering her life and the Holocaust (image: Shutterstock)

How did Anne Frank die?

Anne Frank was initially sent to a woman’s labour camp at Auschwitz with her mother and sister.

Their father was sent to a separate camp for men.

But a few months later in November 1944, Anne and Margot Frank were separated from their mother and taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

They both contracted typhus, with Margot dying just before Anne in February 1945 - mere weeks before World War Two ended in Europe.

Anne Frank was just 15 at the time of her death.

A memorial to Anne and Margot Frank sits on the site of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where they died (Image: DDP/AFP/Getty Images)

Their father was the only member of the family to survive the Holocaust and lived until 1980.

Otto Frank was given Anne Frank’s diary by one of the family’s helpers - Miep Gies - who had held onto it when the family were taken away.

He was convinced to publish it in 1947.

According to the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, he hoped the diary would raise awareness of the dangers of discrimination, racism and antisemitism.

Now, the work has been translated into more than 60 languages, while the museum is one of Amsterdam’s most visited cultural sites.

Who was Arnold van den Bergh?

In 2017, a retired FBI agent launched a cold-case investigation into how Anne Frank’s hiding place was discovered by the Nazis.

Vincent Pankoke, who has previously worked with the FBI to track down Colombian drug cartels, put together a team of 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists to analyse historical documents and other evidence.

They compiled a database containing lists of Dutch Nazi collaborators, informant, historic documents and police records, as well as previous research.

All of this data was then visualised on a map in an attempt to identify who betrayed the Franks.

This team identified Arnold van den Bergh as a key suspect in revealing the hiding place.

A member of Amsterdam’s wartime Jewish Council, it is believed van den Bergh had access to addresses where Jewish people were hiding.

An unsigned post-war note to Anne Frank’s father Otto, which was discovered by the investigators, claimed van den Bergh had passed the addresses on to the Nazi authorities because he wanted to protect his own family.

Investigators said Otto Frank would have been aware of the note but may not have decided to act on it to protect van den Bergh’s daughters.

Further arousing their suspicions, Arnold van den Bergh was able to remain in the Netherlands whereas fellow members of the Jewish Council were deported to concentration camps.

He died in the country in 1950.

The allegations about Arnold van den Bergh were published in a book by Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan - "The Betrayal of Anne Frank" - that was released on 18 January 2022.

Arnold van den Bergh accusations discredited

Ms Sullivan’s book has now been pulled by its Dutch publisher on Tuesday (22 March) after the accusations levelled against Arnold van den Bergh were discredited.

Ambo Anthos has called on booksellers to return unsold copies of the work and issued “sincere apologies” for those who found it offensive.

The European Jewish Congress has also urged publisher HarperCollins to take its English language edition out of print.

It said the book had tarnished the memory of Anne Frank as well as the dignity of Holocaust survivors more broadly.

The latest developments come after a report by World War Two experts and historians that has been published in the Netherlands labelled The Betrayal of Anne Frank as “amateurish”.

"There is not any serious evidence for this grave accusation," the experts said.

The investigators behind the book have previously defended their work by saying they have never claimed to have revealed the absolute truth about what happened to Anne Frank.

"Our theory is a theory and nothing more," Pieter van Twisk - the chief of the investigation team - told Dutch news agency ANP.

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