Family calls for global recall after Dutch publisher pulls book on Anne Frank betrayal
Mirjam de Gorter, the granddaughter of Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh, urgently appealed for the book about the betrayal of Anne Frank to be withdrawn from the market worldwide. In the book, a cold case team identified her grandfather as the likely traitor who gave the Frank family's hiding place to the Nazis. Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos already pulled the book from the market. According to De Gorter, it is "false historiography."
Ambo Anthos withdrew the book from the market after historians presented a critical analysis of the investigation in the book The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan. The historians called the cold case investigation "amateurish" on Tuesday evening, saying it was based on a misuse of resources, assumptions, and tunnel vision.
"Based on the report's conclusions, we have decided that the book will be withdrawn with immediate effect," the publisher said. Ambo Anthos called on bookstores to return the books they still have in stock. The publisher again offered "sincere apologies" to those hurt by the book's contents. Ambo Anthos previously already said that it had not been critical enough about the conclusions of the book and halted reprints.
Mirjam de Gorter now called on American publisher HarperCollins Publishers, which owns the world rights, and all other publishers involved to recall the book. "With this tale, you are exploiting the story of Anne Frank, you are falsifying history, and you are contributing to great injustice," she said. She added that she was "very happy" that Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos had already taken this step.
According to Van den Bergh's granddaughter, she was shocked when she heard the book pinned the betrayal of Anne Frank and her family on her grandfather. Although she had contact with the researchers on the cold case team several times before publication, she said she had no idea they would come up with this. "I immediately thought: my grandfather is being framed in that note," she said, referring to an anonymous note presented as evidence against her grandfather. But she also became very worried. "I thought: they know more than I do. Then you feel quite powerless."
De Gorter is, therefore, "thrilled" with the historians' report, she said on Tuesday evening after a gathering in Amsterd. "In the end, they did the job I expected from the cold case team." She could not say whether she would take further legal action. "We still have to think about that."
The municipality of Amsterdam also commented on the historians' report. The city called it good that various experts have thoroughly investigated the matter and will include their findings in its investigation into whether the municipality can reclaim a 100,000 euros contribution to the cold case team. Early in February, the Amsterdam office of mayor and aldermen said that it agrees with the image that the investigation and publication were handled carelessly and negligently and that it was shocked by this.
Pieter van Twisk, the chief investigator of the cold case team, called the historians' analysis a "very nice report" that he will study. "As yet, I have not read anything that makes me think: now our theory has been disproved," he said in a first reaction to the historians' findings.
Reporting by ANP