Rosemary Sullivan defends conclusions in controversial Anne Frank book; HarperCollins to keep the title on sale

Two days after Ambo Anthos Uitgevers, the Dutch publisher of a controversial book claiming to identify the person responsible for betraying Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis, withdrew the book from circulation, the volume’s author has released a statement defending the conclusions contained in it.

Canadian author and academic Rosemary Sullivan, whose other works include the acclaimed biographies Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwan and Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, professes “full confidence” in the work of the cold-case team that led the investigation behind the book.

Earlier this week, a group of Dutch historians and Holocaust experts released a 69-page report questioning the assertions contained in The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, most prominently the naming of Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh as the likely informant who tipped off the Nazis to the Franks’ whereabouts in August 1944. The report insists that the accusation is “not convincing” and that the book suffers from “an overly complacent modern perspective” regarding Jews during the war.

Sullivan, who was not part of the cold-case team that investigated the Franks’ betrayal, points to former FBI agent and cold-case team member Vince Pankoke’s website, where he offers a rebuttal of the criticism levied at the book. “While new information is continually coming to light,” Sullivan writes, “Pankoke has been able to refute the distorted assumptions the critics say the team makes about the wartime Jewish Council, the existence of lists, and other matters.” She goes on to call the media’s response to the controversy “regrettable.”

Sullivan’s statement in full:

Although I was not involved in the research process, I have full confidence in the investigation led by Vince Pankoke into the betrayal of Anne Frank. Certain critics have questioned the book’s conclusion: that a Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh gave a list of anonymous addresses to the SD which included that of the secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family were hiding. This conclusion was reached in part because of the lengths to which Otto Frank and Miep Gies went to protect the identity of the betrayer. It is the critics who refer to Van den Bergh as a “traitor.” The team is always careful to see him as a victim whose motive was to save his family from deportation and death under the Nazi occupation.  Without requesting a response from Pankoke and his team, the Dutch publisher AmboAthos [sic] printed an apology to anyone offended by the book and then withdrew the book. Pankoke has therefore published his rebuttal on the web site: www.coldcasediary.com. While new information is continually coming to light, Pankoke has been able to refute the distorted assumptions the critics say the team makes about the wartime Jewish Council, the existence of lists, and other matters. The team has also been careful to protect the identity of the granddaughter of Van den Bergh.The way she has been manipulated by the press is regrettable.

HarperCollins, the book’s North American publisher, also released a statement of support for Sullivan and the book, which they will keep on sale. “While we recognize there has been some criticism to the findings, the investigation was done with respect and the utmost care for an extremely sensitive topic,” the statement reads.

Rosemary Sullivan defends conclusions in controversial Anne Frank book; HarperCollins to keep the title on sale
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