The findings from a years long investigation looking into what led to the fall of Anne Frank & her family to the Nazis was released to the public last month.
The person who cracked the code and led the case? He’s from our region in Cambria County.
Nicole Fuschino spoke with him & tells us about his role in this investigation. Nicole?
Almost 80 years have passed since Anne Frank & her family were found & captured in Amsterdam
And a team of investigators just released who they believe betrayed the Frank family to the Nazis.
That team was led by Vince Pankoke who is from right here in Johnstown who has over 35 years of law enforcement experience.
Here’s how it all happened.
“It was important to address this. We owe it to the memories of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. We owe it to the survivors of the Holocaust, and to make sure that we try to learn from history’s mistakes to make
sure this never happened again.”
Vince Pankoke, Johnstown native, led investigation team
“I was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Graduated from the Richland High School in 1975, and then like many do in Johnstown they attend the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.”
“While I was at UPJ, I did an internship at the Richland Police Department, and then was fortunate enough to be hired there as a patrolman in late 1979, and I remained with the Richland Police until I was hired with the FBI in late 1987.”
“I remained in the Miami division until the end of my career, which I retired in November of 2014.”
“During my time with the FBI, I worked very closely with a Dutch National Police Group. I would travel back and forth to the Netherlands. So, I had a lot of good colleagues there.”
“One day, after I retired, I received a call, and my colleague said, if you’re done sitting on the beach, I have a case for you ready to work.”
“I politely told him, you know that I’m retired at this point, and he said, yeah, but it’s not that kind of case.”
“It’s a historical investigation in an attempt to determine what caused the raid in the capture of Anne Frank, her family, and the others in the Annex.”
“He knew that I had an interest in World War II, my dad served in the US army, and I would probably be a perfect fit for it.”
“I was the director of the team.”
“We found an overlooked piece of evidence, and it was a note that Otto Frank received, shortly after liberation, identifying the name of his betrayer.”
“A man by the name of Arnold Van Den Burgh. Unfortunately, Van Den Burg was Jewish, and like many people who were Jewish, during this time period, during the war, in the Netherlands, were actually given a choice”
“You can get on the train, and get on a death camp to the East, or you can cooperate with us. And facing that untenable choice of losing his family or cooperating we believe, our theory, which is saying that not 100 percent that he is the betrayer, but it is the most likely cause of the raid, that he turned over lists of addresses, not names, but addresses, where Jews were in hiding, and one of the addresses on the list was that of the annex where Anne Frank and her family & friends were hiding.”
“Why is this still important? It could happen again. If an educated, cultured group of people, like the Germans, prior to the war, if they could fall for the Nazi rhetoric, and end up throwing the entire world into war, it can happen nowadays.”