Dutch publisher apologizes for controversial Anne Frank book

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch publisher of “The Betrayal of Anne Frank,” a new book that researchers have criticized for presenting inconclusive findings, apologized for “offending anyone” in an e- mail sent to its authors and stated that it would delay printing further copies of the book until further notice.

“A more critical stance could have been taken here,” wrote Tanja Hendriks, publisher and director of Ambo Anthos Publishers, in the email, which The New York Times saw.

“The Betrayal of Anne Frank,” by Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan, published in the United States by HarperCollins, captured worldwide media attention after its January 17 release, bolstered by a double segment on “60 minutes” from CBS Network the night before. HarperCollins declined to comment for this article, and Sullivan did not respond to emails and phone calls.

Sullivan’s book is the account of an investigation by a retired FBI detective who concluded that Arnold van den Bergh, a Jewish notary from Amsterdam, was most likely the informant who told the Nazis where to go. found the Frank family.

Dutch experts in World War II and Holocaust history said the perpetrators and investigators lacked sufficient evidence to make such a charge and based their case on leaps of logic rather than hard evidence or forensic science.

Ambo Anthos declined to comment on the email, which says the publisher is studying the book’s findings. “We await responses from the research team to questions that have arisen,” Hendriks wrote.

Critics of the book, such as World War II historian Bart van der Boom, have said the publisher’s decision to delay printing more copies was a vindication. “It will undoubtedly cement the idea that there is something seriously wrong,” van der Boom said in an interview.

He added that he was glad the publisher appeared to have registered the historians’ protests. “The worst-case scenario is that there are all sorts of valid criticisms and nothing happens,” he said.

The effort to identify Anne Frank’s traitor was a project led by a company called Versionfounded in 2017 by Pieter van Twisk, media producer, and Thijs Bayens, documentary filmmaker.

The project was funded by an advance from HarperCollins and a grant from the City of Amsterdam. Twisk did not respond to requests for comment for this article, and Bayens declined.

“The Betrayal” claims that its suspect, van den Bergh, had access to a list of Amsterdam Jews in hiding, compiled by the city’s Jewish Council.

Investigators have produced no evidence that such a list ever existed, and no scholar who has studied the Jewish Council has ever seen one. Van Twisk, in an earlier interview with The Times, said there was “circumstantial evidence” that a list existed, but the three sources whose testimony he cited were all known Nazi collaborators.

Van der Boom said he found this to be the most offensive aspect of “The Betrayal of Anne Frank” argument.

“What bothers me the most is the idea that the Jewish Council would keep these lists of Jews hidden is totally unfounded, and worse, very, very unlikely,” he said. “It’s almost unthinkable.”

Emile Schrijver, the director of Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter, said Ambo Anthos’ email to its authors was “an important first step, although done in a letter to the editor’s own authors only, not in a press release or official statement.It is vital that international publishers reconsider and define their position now.