Investigators are using artificial intelligence to solve the decades-old mystery of who betrayed Anne Frank and her family.
Photo via Rex
Frank, known for her diaries, was born in Germany before moving to the Netherlands with her family to escape Nazi rule. The Franks went into hiding in 1942, living in a room concealed behind a bookcase in the building where Frank's father worked. However, in August 1944, the Nazis found out where the Frank family was hiding, and arrested the family to send them off to the concentration camps.
The Westerbork transit camp was Frank's first stop, before getting sent to Auschwitz and finally to Bergen Belsen concentration camp. It was there that Frank died of typhus in 1945 at the age of 15.
A former FBI investigator is now looking into a long-unanswered question: who betrayed the Franks and tipped the Nazis off to the family's whereabouts?
A 1954 photo of the bookcase that concealed the door to the Secret Annex, where the Franks lived in hiding [Photo by Maria Austria]
There's already an entire list of people who could have been the snitch that sent all the Franks but Otto, Anne's father, to their deaths. Otto Frank suspected Wilhelm van Maaren, the manager of a warehouse, to have been the one to betray them. However, Dutch police found no compelling evidence that van Maaren betrayed the family. Another suspect is the cleaning lady, while another is Ans van Dijk, a Jewish turncoat who became a Gestapo agent. Another suspect is Joseph Jansen, who suspected that his wife had been having an affair with Otto Frank.
Former FBI agent Vincent Pankoke, along with forensic scientists and members of the Dutch police, are set to find out who tipped the Nazis off to the Franks' whereabouts. The team is using a special algorithm that will scour a master database of information from the period. This information includes documents, police records, as well as lists of known Nazi collaborators and informants.
This, of course, is quite the deluge of information, and it can drown a human researcher. Artificial intelligence, however, will be able to analyze the entire body of information within a much shorter time period. Thus, we may find out who betrayed Anne Frank soon.
Otto Frank, after the war, in the attic of the secret annex [Photo by Arnold Newman]
The team aims to solve this cold case by August 4, 2019, which marks the 75th anniversary of the capture of the Frank family. This, apparently, is the ultimate goal; the team isn't looking to get the culprit persecuted.
However, the team and their algorithm have their work cut out for them. “The amount of data is overwhelming,” says Dutch filmmaker and journalist Thijs Bayens. Bayens is also the one who recruited Pankoke and began this project. “It is at least 20 to 25km of files at this moment and we have just started.”
It's also possible that no one actually betrayed the Franks. The Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies says that there isn't enough evidence to implicate anyone on the list of suspects. The Nazis may have simply decided to search the house in which the Franks were hiding without a tip-off. Thus, Anne Frank and her family may or may not have been betrayed, but it's still best that we find the remaining pieces of their story.
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