Study focuses on arrest of Anne Frank's family

Photos of Anne Frank at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Photos of Anne Frank at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Image: Stock photo.
A new study released by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam speculates that German police may have been conducting a separate investigation when they discovered the family in hiding. 

    Along with her sister, parents and four others, 13-year-old Anne hid in small rooms secluded behind a bookcase in an Amsterdam office building. They were safe there for two years, from July 6, 1942, until Aug. 4, 1944, when they were arrested and sent to concentration camps, along with other Jewish people targeted, detained and murdered by Nazis.
    Of the eight, only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived. Anne, whose diary chronicling the experience is read by students worldwide, died of typhus in March 1945, while at the Bergen-Belsen camp. 
    Until now, according to the Anne Frank House museum, the assumption has been that someone betrayed the residents: Otto, his wife, Edith, their daughters, Margot and Anne; another family in hiding, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, and their son, Peter; and Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist.
    After the war, as Anne Frank’s diary grew in popularity, questions arose about the identity of the betrayer. The suspects included, among others, Willem van Maaren, who began working in Otto Franks' company warehouse in 1943, wrote Gertjan Broek, a researcher with the Anne Frank museum.  But there was no proof of van Maaren's involvement.
    While not ruling out betrayal, the report points out that beyond the fact that eight people were hidden in the annex, there was more going on in the building. “Illegal work and fraud with ration coupons was also taking place,” Broek's paper states. The German Security Service may have been on a different mission, directed specifically at fraud, when it discovered the hidden families.
    A clue is in Anne's diary, Broek explains:
    “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, who represented Gies & Co. This firm -- affiliated with Otto Frank’s company Opekta and located in the same building -- traded in raw materials for the food industry. Anne mentions the impact of their arrests on March 14: ‘B. and D. have been caught, so we have no coupons ...’ This clearly indicates that the people in hiding got at least part of their ration coupons from these salesmen.”


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