The tragic story of Anne Frank and her family is one that has devastated and inspired people across the globe. As the German reign on the Jewish population grew ever tighter, the Frank family saw no other option but to go into hiding. In 1942, the family packed up their bags and hid from the Gestapo in a small apartment hidden behind a bookcase. However, after two years in hiding, the family were betrayed, and they were arrested. Throughout this terrifying time, Anne Frank wrote her famous diary which has now been read by millions across the world. Her diary has since become a synonymous with Hitler and his reign, but questions surrounding their betrayal have plagued historians for decades. Who had revealed their whereabouts? Well, new technology may be one step closer to answering that question.
In a quest to finally solve the cold case, a former FBI agent by the name of Vincent Pankok is teaming up with a group of forensic scientists, investigators, the Dutch police and a Dutch data company to use artificial intelligence, in an attempt to finally get some answers.
The team in charge have developed a complex and specific algorithm that will be fed to the AI, along with every single piece of evidence from that era. This will include lists of police records, historical documents, historical research, and lists of Nazi informants and collaborators. The AI will scour each piece of information and try to find any matching trends that could lead the team to a perpetrator.
The chief data scientist on the case, Marius Helf, has spoken about the new project:
Our software allows [the team] to search the date and visualize it in new way. This has already led to a few new traces. In the future, we plan to make the systems more intelligent, in the sense that it will be able to automatically connect persons, events, and places.
When asked whether a human could do the same job, Marius replied that an AI will be able to dissect and investigate the information on a level ‘that a human in their lifetime might not be able to review.’
Although scientists and historians have yet to find definitive proof as to who betrayed Anne Frank and her family, there have been numerous theories surround their story. Many have suspected that Willem van Maaren, the manager of the warehouse in which the secret annexe was situated, was to blame for their capture. Others suggest that the Gestapo just happened to stumble upon the annexe. Either way, there was little proof to suggest this was the case – so the new investigations aim to confirm or deny these theories, and offer the world a definitive answer.