On January 17, 2022 a self-appointed ‘Cold Case Team’ broke the news: they claimed that they had most likely found the betrayer of Anne Frank and her family. In a carefully launched worldwide media campaign the CCT claimed that they had been able to reach this breakthrough by using new AI methods and forensic research. A collective team of Dutch historians now presents a bilingual Dutch-English report in which they critically review the main arguments of The Betrayal of Anne Frank.
In the CCT’s research, Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh is labelled as the “85 to 87%”-betrayer of not just the Jews hidden in the Achterhuis, but also of delivering lists with addresses of other hidden Jews to the Nazis. These claims, as documented in Rosemary Sullivan’s book The Betrayal of Anne Frank, were refuted by a number of experts and historians several days after the CCT’s campaign launch. Newspapers and television programmes that had shared the CCT research without much criticism now concluded that they should have challenged the book and the CCT more critically. The Dutch publisher Ambo|Anthos apologized and decided not to run a second print of the book.
During this event, a collective team of Dutch historians presents a bilingual Dutch-English report in which they critically review the main arguments of The Betrayal of Anne Frank. They offer a historical reconstruction of Arnold van den Bergh’s life during the Second World War. The report is authored by Bart van der Boom, Petra van den Boomgaard, Aaldrik Hermans, Raymund Schütz, Laurien Vastenhout, and Bart Wallet. Furthermore, the granddaughter of Arnold van den Bergh, will share how she evaluates the debate and how the family is affected by the accusation launched by the CCT. Moderator: Hanco Jürgens.
This event will take place in the Aula of the University of Amsterdam (Oude Lutherse Kerk).
Address: Singel 411, 1012 WN Amsterdam
It can also be attended online: a livestream will be available on this page and SPUI25’s YouTube channel.
About the speakers
Bart Wallet is professor of Jewish studies: early modern and modern Jewish history at the University of Amsterdam. His field of specialization is the history and culture of Dutch Jewry, on which he authored a range of publications. He is one of the authors and editors of the authoritative Reappraising the History of the Jews in the Netherlands (London: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2021). Wallet is the editor of the much-acclaimed war diary of Rotterdam Jewish girl Carry Ulreich, which was published in Dutch and translated into Hebrew, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Wallet is co-editor-in-chief of Studia Rosenthaliana: Journal of the History, Culture and Heritage of the Jews in the Netherlands and editor of the European Journal of Jewish Studies.
Petra van den Boomgaard is Assistant Professor Transitional Justice at University College Utrecht. During her PhD research at the University of Amsterdam she analysed the so-called ‘Calmeyer-gevallen’, for which she was the first to make use of all personal files of the war archive of the Rijksinspectie van de Bevolkingsregisters, the Collectie Calmeyer. Subsequently, in 2019 she published Voor de nazis geen Jood (Verbum). She is board member of de Stichting Sobibor, where she is involved in the organisation of the annual commemorative tour to Sobibor, Poland.
Raymund Schütz received his Ph.D. from the law faculty of the Free University in Amsterdam (2016). The title of his Ph.D. thesis translates to Cold Mist; The Dutch Notaries and the Heritage of the War. It analyses the behaviour of Dutch civil law notaries during the Second World War and its aftermath. He was the historian and archivist of the Netherlands Red Cross war archives (2001-2019). Currently his is senior researcher in the municipal archives of The Hague.
Laurien Vastenhout is researcher and lecturer at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam (PhD 2020). Her field of specialisation is the history of the Second World War, and specifically the persecution of the Jews in Western Europe. Her research projects are comparative and transnational in nature. She has co-coordinated several photography projects and exhibitions. In recent years, she has done extensive research on the creation and functioning of Jewish representative bodies during Nazi occupation (‘Jewish Councils’). Her monograph Between Community and Collaboration: The ‘Jewish Councils’ of Western Europe is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (CUP).
Aaldrik Hermans teaches History at the Jewish Cheiderschool in Amsterdam and is an independent researcher on ‘the survival chances of Jewish hiding in the Gooi area’. Publications: De Larense verzetsstrijder August van Wilgenburg (ab. Resistance in the Gooi area), De Badkuip (ab. Summernursery of Anne Frank in Laren) Weinberg, Van Driel &Hermans, Het Bestek van de Naarderstraat (ab. Jewish hiding), Weinberg, Brinkman & Hermans. Forthcoming Persoonsbewijzensectie (PBS) 1941-1945.
Bart van der Boom teaches History at Leiden University. His expertise is modern Dutch history and the Second World War. Amongst his publications are Wij weten niets van hun lot. Gewone Nederlanders en de Holocaust (Boom Uitgevers, 2012), rewarded with the Libris Geschiedenis Prijs 2012, and De politiek van het kleinste kwaad. Een geschiedenis van de Joodse Raad voor Amsterdam, 1941-1943 (Boom Uitgevers, forthcoming in 2022).
Ruben Vis is a Jewish leader in the Netherlands. Born in Rotterdam he hails from a generations long Dutch-Jewish descent. Ruben is in the boards of several national interreligious affairs committees. With a background in law, journalism and politics he serves the NIK – Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands and recently joined the CJO – Central Jewish Organization of the Netherlands. He regularly publishes articles on Dutch Jewish historical subjects.
Hanco Jürgens (moderator) is a member of the academic staff at the Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam (DIA). He specializes in German and modern European history. He published on a variety of topics, such as the history of Dutch German relations, German EU-policy, the Third Way, and German missionaries in India in the Eighteenth Century. Currently, he focuses on the history of Germany since the fall of the Wall.