New technology could finally crack the Anne Frank case

Who betrayed Anne Frank's family? The investigation will become the subject of a podcast, and possibly a documentary.
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Who betrayed Anne Frank and her family is a mystery that's been investigated for more than seven decades. Now, a former FBI agent hopes to finally crack the case using new technology.

On August 4, 1944, after more than two years in hiding, Anne Frank and seven others were found in the "Secret Annexe" – a hidden room behind a movable bookcase – at Prinsengracht 263. They were arrested and sent to concentration camps, where everyone except Otto Frank (Anne's father) died before the camps were liberated.

What led to the arrest remains unclear to this day. Last year, a study conducted by the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam found that the Jewish teenager and her family may actually have been found by accident.

But Otto Frank was always convinced they had been betrayed, and historians and investigators have long tried to figure out who might have tipped off the Nazis.

Retired FBI agent Vince Pankoke and his team of experts are trying to get to the truth once and for all.

Pankoke, who is known for investigating Colombian drug cartels, has assembled a team of 20 researchers, data analysts and historians to look into what he calls “one of the biggest cold cases” of the 20th century.

How they'll do it

They'll be utilizing cold case investigative techniques that have only been developed in the past decade, with support from artificial intelligence.

"This investigation is different from all previous attempts to find the truth," a website created for the investigation says.

It will be conducted using modern law enforcement investigative techniques – methods used by cold case detectives, historians, psychologists, profilers, data analysts, forensic scientists and criminologists.

But the most unique part of Pankoke's investigation is "specially developed software" that can organize and analyze a vast amount of data, the site says. 

The technology allows investigators to find connections that are not visible to the naked eye. Pankoke told the Washington Post that it would probably take a human a decade to go through all the documents and analyze possible connections, while the computer can process the same information in seconds.

Preliminary research has already begun; see updates in a cold case diary, in which Pankoke describes his discoveries of new sources, facts and conclusions about the case.

Pankoke's goal is to finish the diary on August 4, 2019 – exactly 75 years after the arrest of Anne Frank.

The investigation will become the subject of a podcast, and possibly a documentary, the Washington Post says.

Proditione Media, a production company in the Netherlands that hired Pankoke, is soliciting donations to help fund the investigation.

The company is also asking people with information or previously undisclosed documents to submit them to the website.

This story is part of our "Best of the Web" section – which is just cool stuff we find online and want to share with you.

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