Retired FBI agent opens new investigation into Anne Frank's betrayal

"There is no statute of limitation on the truth.”

October 3, 2017 10:52
3 minute read.
anne frank amsterdam

Anne Frank in 1940, while at 6. Montessorischool, Niersstraat 41-43, Amsterdam. (photo credit: PUBLIC DOMAIN)


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It has been 73 years since Anne Frank and her family were betrayed, but one retired FBI agent won't give up on the case just yet.

Vince Pankoke launched a new cold case investigation, along with over a dozen other forensic experts and historians, to solve the unanswered question of who betrayed Anne Frank's hiding place, The Guardian reported.

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Pankoke conceded that the investigation was more of a fact-finding mission and would not lead to arrests or criminal charges.

“We are not trying to point fingers or prosecute...,"  he told the British daily. "There is no statute of limitation on the truth.”

The investigation is being assisted by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which has given Pankoke's team access to its archives.

Researchers will use modern investigative techniques and software to analyze data and develop new leads. The team has already reconstructed the scene on the day of the Franks' arrest.

The team will utilize the expertise of historians as well as many facets of law enforcement, including behavioral analysis and criminal profiling. Roger Depue, former unit chief of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit, will analyze historical witness statements.

The investigation will be filmed throughout its various stages. Pankoke was initially enlisted to review the cold case by Thijs Bayens, a Dutch filmmaker, and Pieter Van Twisk, a Dutch journalist.

Pankoke spent a large part of his time at the FBI tracking Colombian drug traffickers and was awarded a medal by the Colombian government for his investigations into the North Valley Cartel. He also infiltrated the financial activities of Wall Street criminals as an undercover agent.

Anne and her family went into hiding in the attic of her father Otto's company Opteka on June 12, 1942. From June 14, 1942 to August 1, 1944, Anne Frank would document life inside the attic in her diary, which she addressed to "Kitty," ultimately becoming one of the most complete first-hand accounts of a Holocaust victim.

Anne Frank House (photo credit: Michael Kooren/Reuters)

The original occupants of the attic were Anne, her older sister, Margot, and their parents, Otto and Edith. Three members of the van Pels family – Hermann, Auguste, and their son Peter– and Fritz Pfeffer, a German- born dentist, moved into the attic later in 1942.

On August 4, 1944, a group of police and security officers led by SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Silberbauer entered the attic and arrested all the occupants. Of the seven occupants of the attic, only Otto survived.

After the war ended, Otto devoted much of his life to the publication of his daughter’s diary. He also urged an investigation into his family’s betrayal.

Otto believed that his family was betrayed by Wilhelm van Maaren, one of Opteka’s workers. However, there was no conclusive evidence against van Maaren and he was completely exonerated after a second police investigation was launched in 1963.

Throughout the decades, many theories have come up regarding the Franks’ betrayal.

Nearly 30 suspects have been named during previous investigations, with motives ranging from financial blackmail to blind allegiance to Nazism.

One of the most notable suspects is Ans van Dijk, a Dutch-Jewish woman who was arrested by the SD (the Sicherheitsdienst intelligence agency and a branch of the SS) and collaborated with the SD in exchange for her freedom. Van Dijk posed as a resistance member, offering to find Jews false papers and hiding places. She turned in at least 145 people with estimates as high as 700.

She converted to Catholicism the night before she was executed for treason in 1948.

However compelling the theories, the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies stated in 2003 that there was no conclusive evidence against the four most important suspects on the list.

Another theory in 2016 posited that the arrest could have been less betrayal and more coincidence. The Anne Frank House itself published the findings of a two-year study, which suggested that the raiding party may have been looking for something else when they happened to find the attic’s occupants.

Pankoke and his investigative team will follow the leads to get to the bottom of this decadeslong mystery. Pankoke hopes to crack the cold case by August 4, 2019, 75 years to the day of Anne Frank’s betrayal and arrest.

Vince Pankoke and his investigative team will follow the leads to get to the bottom of this decades-long mystery. Pankoke hopes to crack the cold case by August 4, 2019, 75 years to the day of Anne Frank's betrayal and arrest.

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