Are you sitting down? Because a new study looking into the iconic diary changes everything we thought we knew about Anne Frank.Well, the end at least. An investigation conducted by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has offered a new perspective into how the Nazis captured the Frank family. The research suggests the Sicherheitsdienst (or SD, German Security Service) may have stumbled upon the families in the Secret Annex by accident — not because someone betrayed them.
“This new study reveals that there was more going on at 263 Prinsengracht than just people being hidden in the Secret Annexe,” the Anne Frank House wrote in a statement on their website. “Illegal work and fraud with ration coupons was also taking place.” During the holocaust, Nazis severely limited Jews’ access to food and stores. They put them on a rationing system which led to Jewish households facing major food shortages.
Experts believe the illegal exchange of these food rations may have led the Nazis to the house, ultimately leading to the Anne Frank’s arrest, and later, her death at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. According to the Anne Frank House, the assumption has always been that the Sicherheitsdienst arrived at 263 Prinsengracht looking for Jews in hiding, and that the raid was clearly the result of betrayal. Yet, for an “ordinary” case of wartime betrayal, the story contains many inconsistencies.
Though someone probably did make a phone call to the SD to investigate the house, the betrayal theory was always an assumption that even Otto Frank, Anne’s father, believed. Letters he wrote dating back to November 1945 show he thought someone disclosed their location. He also tried to help identify mugshots of the person who could have gave him up.
But the study points out that many phone lines had been disconnected during that time. Only another government agency could have reached the SD. So researchers pivoted away from the betrayal, or who the betrayer was, and instead focused on what could have led the SD to the house.
A major clue into the new perspective came from Frank’s diary.
Ronald Leopold, Executive Director Anne Frank House, wrote in a statement that while the new findings do not refute the betrayal theory, “other scenarios should be considered.”
“Hopefully more researchers will see reason to follow up new leads,” he wrote. This doesn’t change the impact of Frank’s diary at all or how important her story is. Just there may be more to it than anyone could have imagined.