AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A new report by researchers at the Anne Frank House in the Netherlands suggested the long-assumed reason for the discovery of Frank and seven other Jews could have been a simple coincidence, rather than a betrayal by someone who knew where they were hiding.
Researchers questioned historians' long-held assumption that someone found out about the Frank family's hiding place behind a movable bookshelf in a secret annex of a building at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam and informed the Nazis.
The report noted a little-scrutinized passage from Frank's diary that detailed the earlier arrest of two individuals involved in procuring extra food ration cards to help feed the group. They posit the raid of the home where the group was hiding could simply have been a follow-up investigation that resulted in Frank's discovery.
The report noted first-hand accounts by the employees at Otto Frank's business, who worked at the address, that the Nazis spent about two hours on the premises -- longer than would be necessary to uncover the group if an informant had described their exact hiding spot in the annex behind the bookcase.
Accounts by employees at the building revealed Nazi investigators first showed interest in the provisions in the building and asked workers to account for everything in storage.
Furthermore, the team of Nazi soldiers who arrived at the house were not specifically assigned to root out Jews in hiding. More frequently, they were tasked with investigating other crimes by locals, mostly fraud and the recovery of Jewish families' valuables.
Historians have long disagreed about what led to the raid that uncovered the Franks, though the general consensus is someone gained knowledge of the Jews in hiding and secretly informed the Nazis. Two individuals endured the most scrutiny, Tonny Ahlers, a former business associate of Otto Frank who was deeply anti-Semitic and Lena Hartog, the family's maid. No evidence directly linking either individual to the Nazi raid has been uncovered and documents relating to the raid itself were not preserved.
Anne Frank House researcher Gertjan Broek wrote the historical focus on betrayal limits the possible explanations for how they were found.
Instead, Broek wrote, the focus should be "on the raid itself."
"Why did this raid take place, based on what information, and from where did this information originate?"