The discovery of the people in hiding
The Movable Bookcase
Behind this (movable) bookcase is the entrance to the Secret Annex (Photo: Maria Austria, 1954).
The eight people in hiding and two of their helpers were arrested in a police raid on 4 August 1944. The events leading up to the raid have never been clear. This is a question that many people have wanted answers to. There were strong suspicions of betrayal. An initial investigation was carried out in 1948, and in 1963, on the basis of new information, another attempt was made to find out the facts of what happened. Yet the mystery remained unsolved. The Anne Frank House’s own investigations have shown that there are other possible explanations besides betrayal.
Unexpected police raid
The arrest has been reinvestigated on the basis of existing and new sources of information. Anne's diary entries from March 1944 have led to police and legal documents from various parts of the Netherlands.
The documents show that there was more going on in the building than the concealment of Jewish people: two sales representatives of the Gies & Co. firm were arrested in 1944 for trading in ration coupons. Among other things, the coupons were intended to help the people in hiding in the secret annexe.
Anne Frank wrote about this in her diary on 14 March 1944: "The people who supply us with food coupons have been arrested, so we have (...) no coupons." However, it is not known whether the salesmen were aware that people were hiding in the building.
The arrests came to the attention of a national criminal investigation unit that was supervised by the Sicherheitsdienst, the Nazi "security service", which is why detectives came to visit the business at Prinsengracht 263 on 4 August 1944. The people in hiding could therefore have been discovered by chance.
Investigation into suspicions and speculations
It has never been clear whether the people in hiding were betrayed, and if so by whom. Did one of the warehouse staff hear something? Did someone find it suspicious that large amounts of things were bought and delivered? Did the neighbours notice that there were people hiding in the building? Or was the truth very different?More
An example of a betrayal letter
In 1998, in her biography of Anne Frank, Melissa Müller suggested that a woman named Lena Hartog-Van Bladeren could have been responsible for the betrayal. Two years later Carol Anne Lee presented a new theory in her biography of Otto Frank. She believed that Tonny Ahlers was the guilty party. Later still more suspects were put forward.More