The story of Anne Frank touched millions of people worldwide. "The Diary of a Young Girl" is a book. And a play. And a movie. But unlike other tales, this one has an unsolved mystery at its core that has endured for 60 years: Who tipped off the Nazis that Anne and her family and friends were hiding in that Amsterdam attic overlooking a canal?
A New Suspect
Just hours before the police stormed the little attic at Prinsengracht 263 on August 4, 1944, the Austrian commander of the squad, Karl Josef Silberbauer, received a phone call from the head of the Amsterdam security police. The message: Eight Jews were hiding in the warehouse.
Who told the head of the Amsterdam security police they were there?
Carol Ann Lee, a British author who lives in Amsterdam and has written a biography of Anne Frank, published a new theory in March 2002: She accused Anton Ahlers, a former business associate of Otto Frank's, as being the informant. One incriminating fact is that among the four police officers who raided the warehouse was Maarten Kuiper, a friend of Ahlers. "I think he actually made the call. I think he got the information from Ahlers," Lee told the Associated Press. "They were friends. Ahlers had so much information on Otto Frank. Maarten Kuiper was one of the major betrayers of Jews in hiding during that time."
In an interview for a Dutch television documentary, Lee said, "I looked at his files in The Hague because after the war [Ahlers] was convicted of betraying people and he was jailed. Everyone, including his own family, condemned him as distinctly anti-Jewish and a thoroughly unpleasant character."
Even Ahlers' son, Anton Ahlers Jr., thinks his father betrayed the Franks. He told the Volkskrant newspaper: "There's no doubt he did it." Ahlers had never been a suspect until Lee started researching her book, "The Hidden Life of Otto Frank."
Lee claims that Ahlers not only turned in the Frank family, but also may have blackmailed Otto Frank for years after the war, receiving payment for his silence about Frank's business with Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II. Had this fact become known in post-war Holland, his company could have been confiscated. Ahlers' son said he believed his father received money from Otto Frank, because the flow of funds stopped when Frank died in 1980.
Verdict: Not guilty. Based on Lee's book, the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation reopened its investigation for the third time since World War II. After nine months of research, the Institute concluded that the "The Hidden Life of Otto Frank" was based on speculation and that she "should have dealt more critically with her sources," including Ahlers's family. "Our investigation has not led us to the culprit," the Institute wrote in its report.
Otto Frank was the only one of the eight people hiding in the attic to survive the concentration camps. Anne died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in the spring of 1945, just weeks before the camp was liberated.
People try to change the world, instead of themselves. John Cleese