Dutch publisher of ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank’ halts publication – The Virginian-Pilot

AMSTERDAM — A Dutch publisher has said it will stop publishing a bestselling book, ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank,’ and pull it from bookstores, in response to a report by historians opposing its discovery .

The book had claimed to identify the informant who alerted Nazi police to the Frank family hideout, but the report’s authors said the conclusions were based on “erroneous assumptions” and “careless use of sources”.

The publisher, Ambo Anthos, who published the Dutch translation of the book by Rosemary Sullivan, a Canadian author, on January 17, said on Tuesday it would halt publication in response to a “rebuttal” from five prominent Dutch historians.

“Based on the findings of this report, we have decided that with immediate effect the book will no longer be available,” wrote Ambo Anthos, who apologized for the book last month, in a statement posted on his website. website. “We will appeal to booksellers to return their stock.”

‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank’ captured worldwide attention after its release, bolstered by an appearance on CBS News’ 60 Minutes by the self-proclaimed ‘cold case team’ led by an investigator at the FBI retreat whose work formed the basis of the book.

The team accused Arnold van den Bergh, a Dutch Jewish notary, of telling Nazi police the location of the secret annex of Prinsengracht 263, Amsterdam, where the Frank family and four other Jews had been hiding for two years. They were arrested on August 4, 1944 and deported to concentration camps, where Anne, her mother and her sister died; only their father, Otto Frank, survived the war.

Historians and other World War II and Holocaust experts were quick to express doubts about the discovery, questioning a central premise of his argument: that the notary had lists of Jewish hideouts compiled by the Council Jew from Amsterdam, an organization occupied by the Nazis. created in 1941.

Pieter van Twisk, the principal investigator of the cold-case project, said in a New York Times interview at the time that the evidence for the lists was “circumstantial, but circumstantial evidence is still evidence.”

On Tuesday evening, Bart Wallet, professor of Jewish studies at the University of Amsterdam, summarized the conclusions of the rebuttal, written by Raymund Schütz, an expert on Dutch notaries during the German occupation; two experts from the Jewish Council of Amsterdam, Laurien Vastenhout and Bart van der Boom; and two other researchers, Petra van den Boomgaard and Aaldrik Hermans.

“We felt we had to step in because we owed it to our discipline,” Wallet said. “For such a claim to be made,” he added, the historical context “had to be rock solid.” But he said that was “not the case, not at all”.

“It is clear that the argument does not hold,” he concluded. “Due to misinterpretation and tunnel vision, the inquest wrongly identifies Arnold van den Bergh as Anne Frank’s traitor.”

At the event where the report was released, Mirjam de Gorter, van den Bergh’s granddaughter, made an emotional public appeal to HarperCollins, who published the book in the United States with the intention of publishing it in more than 20 languages, requesting that the publisher issue a retraction and cease publication.

De Gorter said team investigators approached her in 2018 without telling her that her grandfather was the prime suspect, even though, as Sullivan wrote in the book, they were already seriously considering him the traitor.

With the help of family members, de Gorter said he discovered that in the summer of 1944, when the Franks were betrayed, van den Bergh and his wife were hiding in the town of Laren, Leemkuil 11 They were seen there by a friend, Gerard Huijseen, who noted their visit in his war diary. The van den Bergh children had already been taken into hiding in October 1943, she said.

“My grandfather didn’t need to save his family in the summer of 1944,” she said. “They were already hidden.”

De Gorter said she shared this information with the team, but they ignored her, she said. Instead, the book claimed that the family lived in Amsterdam and that van den Bergh had won his freedom by giving up addresses to the Nazis.

“My grandfather, Arnold van den Bergh, was described around the world as an international scapegoat,” she said. “Meanwhile, Anne Frank’s worldwide notoriety is exploited in a particularly dishonest way.”

In February, the European Jewish Congress also called on HarperCollins to rescind the book and “distancing itself from the book’s controversial historical claims.”

Ambo Anthos had previously suspended printing and distribution of the book and apologized after historians raised early questions about his findings. “A more critical stance could have been taken here,” wrote Tanja Hendriks, publisher and director of the society. Hendriks did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The publisher’s website now says: “We would once again like to sincerely apologize to anyone who has been offended by the contents of this book.”

Van Twisk, Sullivan and documentary filmmaker Thijs Bayens, who was part of the team that was assembled to identify Anne Frank’s traitor, also did not respond to requests for comment. The cold case team’s lead investigator, former FBI Detective Vince Pankoke, however, previously released a defense of the work.

“So far, we have not received any evidence or new information strong enough to challenge our conclusion,” he noted before the rebuttal was published. “The van den Bergh scenario is, in our view, still the most viable theory about the betrayal of Prinsengracht 263.”

HarperCollins, in a statement, said the company continues to support the publication of the book. “While we recognize that the findings have been criticized,” the statement said, “the investigation was conducted respectfully and with the utmost care for an extremely sensitive subject.”

Jacob L. Thornton