Posted on: November 1, 2017
(Source picture above: Anne Frank House)
An American cold-case team tries to find the answer to the question: Who betrayed the Frank family in 1944? They will use specially developed software to find out. The Anne Frank cold case team is led by former FBI agent Vince Pankoke, who retired last year. In the past he hunted down the Colombian drug cartels and men like drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, but he considers the Anne Frank cold case ‘the ultimate cold case’.
Former FBI agent Vince Pankoke. Follow him, and the cold case, via Twitter.
A team of 19 criminologists, historians, journalists and data specialists supports the former FBI agent. The Dutch police and other former FBI agents are also involved. The Anne Frank Foundation, the municipality of Amsterdam and other agencies have made their archives accessible. The team works with specially developed software that should help to organise the large amounts of available data. According to the researchers, the software allows them to “see connections that remain invisible to the naked eye”. Xomnia, an Amsterdam based company that can handle huge batches of data, supplies two so-called big-data specialists who are going to work on all the data.
The case of the Frank family has so far been officially investigated twice. In 1947, Otto Frank, father of Anne, and the only survivor of the family, urged the police to launch an investigation, which led to no results. In 1963, a second investigation by the police again failed to point towards a perpetrator. According to the researchers, the case has so far only been looked at by writers, journalists and historians, never by a team of forensic researchers who use cold case techniques and modern software.
The Frank family. Picture from a family album.
The team asks people to come forward with information. “Even tough there are hardly any witnesses still alive,” it says on the website, “there may be family members, friends, or other people who can be important to the investigation.” The researchers request that these persons share information, old letters, photos or documents through the site.
Amsterdam, 22 juli 1941. The only existing film footage of Anne Frank.
It’s the summer of 1941. The girl next door is getting married. Anne Frank leans out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom. This is the only moment of Anne Frank that has ever been captured on film. At the time of the marriage, the bride lived on the second floor at Merwedeplein 39 in Amsterdam. The Frank family lived at number 37, also on the second floor.
The biggest suspect in the case has always been warehouse assistant Wilhelm van Maaren. But this could never be proven. Other names that have passed the revue are cleaner Lena Hartog van Bladeren and the wife of another warehouse assistant, Lammert Hartog. The researchers estimated that a total of thirty potential suspects have emerged from previous investigations. Whether the actual betrayer is among those has to be proven. “Although we have not officially started the investigation,” Pankoke writes in a blog, “we have already found unique material that has previously not been linked to the Anne Frank affair.” On August 4th, 2019, exactly 75 years after the arrest of Anne Frank and her family, Pankoke wants to have finished his research and publish the results.