The director of HarperCollins Germany, Jürgen Welte, has justified the decision to publish Rosemary Sullivan’s The Betrayal of Anne Frank by saying that they want to enable “all interested readers […] to form their own independent opinion of the book and the associated media discussion,” he said in a press statement.
They are currently working on a “corrected, supplemented and annotated German-language edition,” the publisher added.
Following the controversy surrounding the book upon its publication in English and other languages, HarperCollins Germany decided to postpone the publication of the German-language version. Initially planned for March, the publisher has yet to announce a new publication date.
Welte’s written statement goes on to say that it will not comment on remaining questions “until the book’s publication date, which has not yet been set.”
Yves Kugelmann, editor of the Jewish weekly magazine Tachles, remains skeptical. “HarperCollins Germany is inventing a new book genre: the annotated edition of a book with hundreds of errors,” he told DW in an email.
“In a decent world, such a book would not be published because its content is wrong and it spreads rumors among the readership,” added Kugelmann. “Thus, the publisher makes itself an accomplice of those revisionists who reinterpret history, put theses above facts and science behind.”
What does the book say?
The Betrayal of Anne Frank was published in several languages back in February. In it, author Rosemary Sullivan lays out the investigative work of a Dutch-American team led by former FBI agent Vince Pankoke.
The team had claimed in February to have discovered who betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Gestapo in Amsterdam during World War II. A Jewish notary was named as the guilty party, with “85% probability.” The presumption of innocence did not seem to apply in this case.
Critics found the book to be written in the style of a true-crime story, and the investigators’ actions appear speculative and dubious.
The debate so far
The book caused heated debate in the Netherlands. Historians found numerous factual errors. Jewish associations also sharply criticized the book’s publication.
In response, the Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos apologized for the publication and announced that it would not publish a second edition until the team of investigators had answered the questions raised.
Anne Frank and her family were murdered in Nazi concentration camps in 1945. Only her father Otto survived, and after the war, he published Anne’s diary, which has since reached millions of readers around the world.