It was one of the biggest cold cases of the 20th century: who tipped off the Nazis about Anne Frank and the seven other Jews who were hiding in an annex in Amsterdam? While there have been many suspects over the years, there's never been a definitive conclusion and the mystery has baffled historians for nearly 75 years.
Now, a former FBI agent is beginning a new investigation into the case with the help of artificial intelligence – and it's going to get its own podcast and possibly a documentary, The Washington Post reported.
Former investigator Vince Pankoke has brought together a team of 20 researchers, data analysts and historians to investigate the case. Most interestingly, the team will be using a piece of specialised AI software that will be able to cross-reference millions of documents – from police reports to lists of Nazi spies and files about Frank family sympathisers – for new leads.
It would take a human a decade to pore over the documents and make connections, according to Pankoke – a process which would take the software mere seconds.
The investigation was the idea of Dutch production company Proditione Media, which is making the podcast and potential documentary. It is seeking donations to help fund the project and is calling on people to send over any information or previously undisclosed material via its website and, according to Pankoke, they've already received new information.
Anne Frank and her family were discovered by the Gestapo on a summer day in 1944 after spending more than two years in the secret annex, behind a moveable bookcase, at the back of her father's store in Amsterdam. They were sent to concentration camps in Germany, where seven of the eight hiders, including Anne, died before the end of WWII.
Anne's father, Otto Frank, was the only one to survive. He published his daughter's diary, which became required reading for children the world over, and dedicated the rest of his life to finding out who betrayed them. Frank suspected it was a recently hired employee, Willem van Maaren, but many others have also been identified as potential suspects over the years and the question remains unanswered.
“The bottom line is until this day, there is nothing that’s really held water or been definitive,” Pankoke told The Washington Post. “The point of the investigation is fact-finding just to discover the truth. There is no statute of limitations on the truth.”