When the news broke on January 17, 2022, the British newspaper The DailyMail headlined: “Anne Frank was betrayed by a JEWISH notary.” The word ‘Jewish’ in capitals.
The Shoah is not history.
The Holocaust and its aftermath is what we, the Jewish community is confronted with till today, every day. Amsterdam was emptied out of ten percent of its inhabitants. And now it was a JEW in capitals, who betrayed Anne Frank, the icon Jewish victim of the Holocaust.
We know what it is, what being betrayed means. Close to a third of the Jews in hiding were betrayed. Every Dutch Jewish family has ‘being betrayed’ in their DNA.
When the news broke, I immediately asked the essential question: where was Mr. Arnold van den Bergh at the time Anne Frank and the seven others were arrested. Where was Mr. Arnold van den Bergh on August 4, 1944?
It took me less than 50 minutes to find out what a whole team couldn’t bring to the light in six years of research. Mr. Van den Bergh and his wife were in hiding in Laren. That village, Laren, was where my now 91-years old uncle was in hiding too. Till he was betrayed.
Miraculously he survived. The whole family survived.
Why was Laren left out as an option in the book which was published based on the findings of the Anne Frank cold case team?
You wonder: why did the cold case team lack reflection? There is but one answer to me. Because it didn’t want reflection.
The damage caused by the Anne Frank cold case team’s abhorrent conclusions is colossal. As Yves Kugelmann, head of the Basel-based Anne Frank Fund said: “The research team’s ramshackle conclusions are grist to the mill of anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists.”
The danger of such an accusation as made by the cold case team is not to be considered lightly. Antisemitism is there in Europe, and lately we have seen serious physical manifestations of antisemitism in the United States too.
Antisemitism didn’t suddenly stop in May 1945. Nor did the experience of being betrayed. A new generation of Jews grew up in this liberated country. But not liberated of the feeling of betrayal. On the contrary, being betrayed was implanted in the DNA of the Jews in the Netherlands.
Jews, not just the ones in the Netherlands, unfortunately not wrongly, think that they too could one day be Anne Frank.
Anne Frank became universally known all over the world. Now the cold case team betrayed the world by pointing the finger at Mr. Arnold van den Bergh.
“The Betrayal of Anne Frank” is being published by HarperCollins in over 20 countries.
The Australian branch of HarperCollins accompanies the publication with the following explanation on its Twitter account: “The findings, published in full in the book ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank,’ are already provoking soul-searching in the Netherlands.”
In the meantime, I speak with Holocaust survivors and today’s Jewish community. If anything is being provoked by the publication of the book, it’s their hearts and their souls.
Ruben Vis (1967) is a Jewish leader in the Netherlands. Born in Rotterdam, he hails from a generations-long Dutch-Jewish descent. With a background in law, journalism, and politics, he serves the NIK – the umbrella organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands as its director. He regularly publishes articles on Dutch Jewish historic subjects.