Ruben Vis: “How the world was betrayed by the Anne Frank Cold Case team”

The secretary general of the NIK Organisation of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, Ruben Vis, addressed a conference entitled ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A refutation’, held at the University of Amsterdam.

At the conference, a collective team of Dutch historians presented a bilingual Dutch-English report in which they critically reviewed the main arguments of the book ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank, published earlier this year and the object of international commotion.

Academics, Jewish leaders and representatives presented their perspectives on the controversial book. offered a historical reconstruction of Arnold van den Bergh’s life during the Second World War.

Mr. Vis was joined by Bart Wallet, professor of Jewish studies at the University of Amsterdam; Petra van den Boomgaard, Assistant Professor Transitional Justice at University College Utrecht, historian Raymund Schütz; Laurien Vastenhout, researcher and lecturer at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Aaldrik Hermans, history teacher at the Cheiderschool in Amsterdam; and Bart van der Boom, lecturer of history at Leiden University. The conference was moderated by Hanco Jürgens, of the Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam (DIA).

The conference was organised by the University of Amsterdam in cooperation with the  Royal Dutch historical society.

You can find the remarks of Ruben Vis below:

When the news broke on January 17, 2022, the British newspaper The Daily Mail headlined: “Anne Frank was betrayed by a JEWISH notary.” The word ‘Jewish’ in capitals.

The Shoah is not history.

The Holocaust and its aftermath is what we, the Jewish community is confronted with till today, every day. Amsterdam was emptied out of ten percent of its inhabitants. And now it was a JEW in capitals, who betrayed Anne Frank, the icon Jewish victim of the Holocaust.

We know what it is, what being betrayed means. Close to a third of the Jews in hiding were betrayed. Every Dutch Jewish family has ‘being betrayed’ in their DNA.

When the news broke, I immediately asked the essential question: were was Mr. Arnold van den Bergh at the time Anne Frank and the seven others were arrested. Where was Mr. Arnold van den Bergh on August 4, 1944?

It took me less than 50 minutes to find out what a whole team couldn’t bring to the light in six years of research. Mr. Van den Bergh and his wife were in hiding in Laren. That village, Laren, was where my now 91-years old uncle was in hiding too. Till he was betrayed.

Miraculously he survived. The whole family survived.

Why was Laren left out as an option in the book which was published based on the findings of the Anne Frank cold case team? You wonder: why did the team lack reflection? There is but one answer to me. Because it didn’t want reflection.

The damage caused by the Anne Frank cold case team’s abhorrent conclusions is colossal. As Yves Kugelmann, head of the Basel-based Anne Frank Fund said: “The research team’s ramshackle conclusions are grist to the mill of anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists.”

The danger of such an accusation as made by the cold case team is not to be considered lightly. Antisemitism is there in Europe, and lately we have seen serious physical manifestations of antisemitism in the United States too.

Antisemitism didn’t suddenly stop in May 1945. Nor did the experience of being betrayed. A new generation of Jews grew up in this liberated country. But not liberated of the feeling of betrayal. On the contrary, being betrayed was implanted in the DNA of the Jews in the Netherlands.

Jews, not just the ones in the Netherlands, unfortunately not wrongly, think that they too could one day be Anne Frank.

Anne Frank became universally known all over the world. Now the cold case team betrayed the world by pointing the finger at Mr. Arnold van den Bergh.

“The Betrayal of Anne Frank” is being published by HarperCollins in over 20 countries. The European Jewish Congress asked HarperCollins for a halt until proper research was done. Now the research is done, a total refute of the cold case team’s work and conclusions.

The Australian branch of HarperCollins accompanies the publication with the following explanation on its Twitter account: “The findings, published in full in the book ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank,’ are already provoking soul-searching in the Netherlands.”

In the meantime, I speak for Holocaust survivors and today’s Jewish community. If anything is being provoked by the publication of the book, it’s their hearts and their souls.”

The EJC has urged HarperCollins, international publisher of the book ‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank,  to pull the book from publication, due to its unfounded historical claims.

The NIK is the Netherlands’ EJC affiliate.

You can watch the full conference here


Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.


More than 160 Jewish communities and organisations across the globe urge UN to use IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism in UN Action Plan

The letter demonstrates that the vast majority of those engaged in combating antisemitism and the Jewish communities worldwide who are its target find the IHRA definition not only helps fight antisemitism, but “can be used entirely consistently with fundamental human rights standards.”