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February 15, 2022

The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation by Rosemary Sullivan ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

I was 12 or 13 when I read Diary of a Young Girl. It was my first look at the horrors of the Holocaust and it was very difficult to process the book in my mind - especially since  I was about the same age as Anne when she wrote in her diary.

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The Betrayal of Anne Frank
January 2022; Harper; 978-0062892355
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); true crime

One of the main questions that people ask at the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam is 'who betrayed Anne Frank'?   There has been a lot of investigation and several books on this subject over the years because Anne became a symbol of the cruelties of war.  In 2017, a group of scientists and detectives got together to do a cold case study on the betrayal.  They believed that with all of the computer resources at hand, they could finally find out who turned in the names of the Frank family.  They poured through tens of thousands of pages of documents and talked to people who knew Anne and her family before the war started.  They talked to descendants whose parents had told them stories about the Frank family and they found documents that had never been seen before and came up with the name of the person that they thought MIGHT have been the person they were looking for.  The cold case team is 85% sure of its conclusion.  

I really enjoyed the first part of the book that talked about the family before the war, about their life in hiding, and what happened on that last day before they were captured.  Once the book turned to the work of the cold case team, it got pretty bogged down.  I was impressed with the  dedication  of the cold case team and how computers helped them find more documents and helped them compare their findings

It's been over 60 years since the Frank family was discovered in the Annex and finding out the person who betrayed them can't change anything.  In a way, the cold case team violated one of Otto Frank's principles to not make money off of the death of his daughter and his family.   In my mind, this group did just that.  Overall, the results of this team weren't very credible despite all of the hard work that they put into it.
Current controversy about The Betrayal of Anne Frank:   

Dutch historians and Jewish groups have criticized the “sensationalist” book, the result of a six-year cold case investigation, while its local publisher has halted further reprints.

There was a fierce reaction in the Netherlands, which is still haunted by guilt over the deportation of more than 100,000 Jews during the war.  The results were “extremely speculative and sensationalist”, the Amsterdam-based Central Jewish Consultation (CJO) organization said.

You can read more about it in The New York Times article.
NOTE:  From a personal perspective, if you ever get a chance to go to Amsterdam, be sure to include the Anne Frank museum in your plans.  I was amazed to see what a small space the families lived in during their time in hiding.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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