Book Review – The Betrayal of Anne Frank
The betrayal of Anne Frank – Throughout the 12-year period between 1933 and 1945, which saw the systematic persecution and murder of over six million European Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany known as the Holocaust, many individuals personified the pain and agony, as well as the courage and hope of this harrowing and painful time in modern history. Some of the people who come to mind in this regard include Hannah Senesh, Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, Simon Wiesenthal and Elie Wiesel.
But perhaps the only person to emerge from the Holocaust, who represented innocence, maturity and optimism in the face of such an immense tragedy, was Anne Frank.
Born in Germany and raised in the Netherlands, Anne and her family – father Otto, mother Edith and sister Margot – along with four other people, hid for two years in an attic located in the annex of the warehouse of his father’s business at Prinsengracht 263 in the heart of Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. During this period, Anne recorded her life hidden in the attic, as well as her thoughts and musings that occupied the mind of a wartime teenage girl, in writing through a diary. This diary, which was unearthed after the war, was published in 1947 as The Diary of a Young Girl, and became a perennial bestseller throughout the world, and to this day is recognized as the one of the main literary works to evolve since the Holocaust, as well as Night by Elie Wiesel and Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Unfortunately, the fate of Anne Frank and her family is just as well known as her diary. On August 4, 1944, a group of Nazis and Dutch police, based on information they received from an individual, raided the attic and arrested its eight hidden occupants. They were then deported to Auschwitz. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen on January 6, 1945; of the eight people arrested, only Otto Frank survived.
Until his death in 1980, Otto became the guardian of the Frank family flame, in particular the legacy of his daughter Anne and his world famous and widely read diary. But he also cared about which person(s) tipped off the Nazis that led to their arrest, and why.
With that question left unanswered for nearly 75 years, it took the efforts of retired FBI agent Vincent Pankoke and a team of crack researchers and investigators around the world to find the answer. Using efficient FBI methods, the latest computer technology, not to mention reviewing countless documents and conducting interviews with descendants of people who knew or were associated with the Franks, the team treated the search for answers as if it was a cold criminal case. , which made it possible to discover who was the person or persons responsible for the betrayal of Anne Frank and her family.
Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan chronicled this unique search for conclusion in her captivating book The Betrayal of Anne Frank.
Ms. Sullivan begins the book with a very informative backgrounder that occupies its first half, as she gives the reader an in-depth historical perspective of the Frank family and the harsh five-year Nazi occupation of the Netherlands that affected all Dutch inhabitants in a tragic way. Perhaps the most disturbing and infuriating part of this brutal occupation was the fact that many Dutch citizens, to profit from Nazi anti-Semitism or to save themselves from the sting of Nazi occupation, became bounty hunters known as “V-Mannen” or “V-Frauen” or “Jew Hunters”, in which they informed the Nazis about which Jews were hiding and where they were hiding, for a fee of symbolic money for each Jew who ended up being captured thanks to their collaboration.
The second half of the book details the Cold Case team’s exhaustive work to uncover who was instrumental in this betrayal. The narrative reads almost like an episode of CSI or Law & Order, as the team members use their specific specialties and skills to achieve the desired result. And like an Agatha Christie mystery novel, it details the list of likely suspects, their possible motives for involvement in the betrayal, and the circumstances why they were or were not the perpetrator in question (the list included suspects such as Austrian Karl Josef Silberbauer, head of the German security service – or SD – in Amsterdam, and Dutch collaborator and “V-Frau” Ans van Dijk, who was executed for his wartime involvement with the Nazis in 1948). All the hard work, triumphs, setbacks and frustrations (a stark example of the latter was the virtual non-cooperation, ironically, of the Anne Frank Fund, an organization based in Basel, Switzerland, which manages the newspaper’s distribution and manages its copyright) are told with the painstaking ability of a forensic investigator, which helps make this book such a fascinating page-turner.
And yes, the team managed to find out who was the author who committed this betrayal. In fairness to the reader, I will not reveal the name and motive of this heinous act; all I can say is that the traitor was a member of the Jewish community in Amsterdam; one of theirs.
The Betrayal of Anne Frank skillfully unravels the mystery of the fate of Anne Frank and her family. Although the book provides a much-needed sense of closure in this regard and keeps the legacy of Anne Frank and her diary alive for many generations to come, the main question of “Why?” still hangs above us why more than six million European Jews suffered a terrible fate at the hands of Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945, and why nothing – or very little – was done to prevent such a massive tragedy from happening. This question still has not been answered.
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