The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan

The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan – A Cold Case Investigation – is a newly published book on the research a team undertook for 6 years, to discover what happened to Anne Frank, and one of the team was a retired FBI agent. I read her diary recently, here is my review and I was very curious about this book. I enjoyed it and gave it 5 stars, although it seems that it is a controversial book.

The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan

So, I will start by dealing with that, the controversy. The Dutch publishing house said, as reported in an article, that: “We offer our sincere apologies to anyone who might feel offended by the book.” That of course sounded alarm bells for me. I am profoundly against banning books. Also, books aren’t meant to be comfortable unless they are fiction. At no point in the book the team said that they uncovered the truth with no possibility of any doubt. It seems that, from another article, the book “prompted a backlash from Jewish groups and historians”, so it seems the person who they think betrayed Anne is the problems, as the person was a Jew. That says nothing about the research but a lot about the bias of Jewish historians.

“The European Jewish Congress urged publisher HarperCollins to pull its English language edition, saying it had tarnished Anne Frank’s memory and the dignity of Holocaust survivors.” I mean that is a truly worrying idea, to censure a book because some group does not agree with the result.

For me, the book is very well written, with details on how the documents were interpreted and what techniques they used, which is fascinating to read about. As I mentioned earlier, they think a Jew betrayed Anne, which is, for me, the most realistic one, considering they were in hiding for two years before being discovered. Jews are humans and some of them did what they felt they had to do to survive. That just shows the horrors of the war and also the puerile expectation that 100% of the Jews were innocent. They were victims and even the ones who betrayed to save their lives are victims too, unlike the ones who did the actual killing.

I highly recommend the book, it is very well written and the investigation is interesting to read about. For example, the author talks about how some letters were analysed to see if they were written by Otto Frank, Anne’s father. I was impressed by the level of skill needed for that, I had no idea how complicated it is. From that point of view I think lovers of mystery murders might like to read about the investigative part of the story.

I think history needs to be accepted and not censured. Even if the person who they believed betrayed Anne was the real one, the research makes it a very good point that they had a good motive, protecting their family, and that makes life choices messy.

The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: William Collins
Year it was published: 2022
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 383

About the author: Rosemary Sullivan is a Canadian poet, biographer, and anthologist.
Website & Social Media Links: –

8 thoughts on “The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan”

  • Makes me think of 1984, where Orwell shows quite clearly how people can be forced into betrayal, and that mix you mention of being both betrayer and victim. I agree that it’s nonsense to think that all Jews were innocent and finding out that Anne’s betrayer was Jewish (if they’re right) in no way lessens the truth of the Holocaust.

    • I am yet to read 1984, but yes, people can be forced into betrayal and they are victims too. I agree that the Holocaust’s horrors are not reduced by this, I would suggest that it makes it even more horrifying that people had no choice but to betray someone like them just to save their lives.

  • When I saw the BBC article about the controversy surrounding this book, I remembered you saying that you planned to read it, so thought it was worth sharing. I must admit to being surprised that they were asking for the book to be pulled from the shelves, as like yourself, I believe that unless there is irrefutable proof that a book contains a deliberate lie or mis-telling of events, there should be no censorship. As Kelly pointed out, life can make messy choices for us, as well as we humans often making some pretty terrible choices for ourselves and who of knows exactly how far we would go in a similar situation, to save our family or indeed oneself. We all know that happened so many times, to so many people, in so many different countries – I can’t understand why Jews think it couldn’t or shouldn’t happen to them! 🙂
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    • When the pandemic started many rushed to the shops and bought more than they needed, leading to many shortages. Then the fuel shortage crises happened and many filled up their cars even though it was not something they did usually. These are so insignificant, but just show how selfish people can be. We never had to go through war, so we don’t know what choices we would make in much more stressful and dangerous situation. All those people were victims, including the Jews betraying with the hope they or their families will survive.

      I think this is a book you would enjoy because you love mysteries and it offers a lot of details on police work.The ex-FBI agent was in charge, so the investigation is similar to what police officers would do.

  • I agree with you in every way. I read this too (and will review it in my March wrap-up) and have also read about the post-publication controversy. Every theory has controversy (look at Covid protocols, where it came from, all that!) Coming at the case with the time distance perhaps provides more objectivity and certainly more information from which to work. Clearly, the methodology, as you mentioned, was well spelled out and complex. And while they did pick their best candidate based on research and are well behind it, I suspect that should additional concrete and prove-able things were to crop up, they would evaluate carefully and scientifically.

    All that aside (along with the censorship issue) I found the book gripping and as well written and involving as any mystery might be. If you can stream this (not sure of broadcast rights) Google CBS 60 Minutes Anne Frank and there’s a good piece there focusing on this with interviews. I think it was recorded prior to the publication controversy.
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    • I think I can see it on youtube, but it’s only 27 minutes. I will look at it today. The book is really well written, I agree, very engaging and interesting. I liked it a lot.

    • It was a long war and they knew what was happening, it is hard to accuse someone because they just want to save their life and their family lives. Knowing what happened should be paramount, so any research into what took place is relevant. I think you would enjoy this book, if you decide to read it. 🙂

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