Carol Ann Lee fills in some of the backstory gaps for readers of the Anne Frank diary We all know the basic facts of the teenage girl who hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam with her father, mother, and sister, along with the van Pels and Mr Pfeffer only to be outed and sent to Auschwitz so painfully close to the end of the war however, most of us don t know the details of the life of Otto Frank, the father and only survivor of the group.
Lee is very good at painting little thumbnail sketches that seem to realistically portray minor events in the background story, and here she focuses on a very likely suspect who betrayed the family Working from reams of research material collected by herself and other Anne Frank aficionados, she painstakingly pieces together the details of events spanning both the war years and decades after view spoiler These point to one Tonny Ahlers, an NSB hack who originally met Otto Frank in order to blackmail him but later actually did business with him and the Opekta company Lee even gets verbal admissions from Ahler s brother and son, who wholeheartedly believe that Tonny was the betrayer In the North American edition, she provides even fresher evidence to infer that Tonny s wife, Martha, may have been involved and actually placed the call to the Gestapo hide spoiler
This was ok To me it was like reading a textbook I m just so partial to historical fiction.
From the moment I began reading, I was completely engrossed I hadn t ever read much about Otto, Anne s father, seeing as most of the literature about their family is focused solely upon Anne However, this book proved to be an absolutely fascinating read, providing much needed background and insight into family dynamics from an adult perspective that helped to understand significance of events that I had read about previously in other books The book begins with Otto s childhood in Germany and follows him through his life at a rather quick pace, slowing to really dig in after the family moves to Amsterdam in the 1930 s when Hitler was rising to power in their native Germany.
The story follows Otto through his entire life, including very closely detailed accounts of his time in Auschwitz and his journey back to Holland after the war was over Through all of it, a man named Tonny Ahlers plays a very key role, as it seems he blackmailed Otto Frank from very early on in the war until seemingly the day he died Ahlers was a well known anti Semitic and friend of the German occupiers in Holland, well know in Amsterdam for betraying Jews he knew to be in hiding Throughout the book, it would seem that Tonny Ahlers was the man who betrayed the Frank family, knowing early on about their hiding place and only letting them stay in order to continue to blackmail Otto However, the final chapter in the book drops a starting bombshell, revealing that the person that called the SS that day in August of 1944 to betray the Frank family was actually a woman That woman was Tonny Ahler s wife.
If you are at all interested in WW2, the Holocaust, or history in general, read this book It s fantastic.