Simon Wiesenthal Locates Karl Silberbauer, Anne Frank's Arresting Officer, In Response to Claims that Anne Frank was a Fictitious Person
Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal's search for the man who had arrested Anne Frank began in 1958 when he was challenged by Holocaust deniers to prove the existence of Anne Frank by finding the Nazi who caught her.
His name had been disclosed in 1948 during the initial investigation into the betrayal and arrest of Anne Frank, her family, the four people she hid with, and two of their protectors. The Dutch SD detectives who had assisted with the raid were identified by Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler and Miep Gies. The two men said they remembered nothing about it, other than the name of their superior, Karl Silberbauer.
Wiesenthal requested the help of Anne's father, Otto Frank, who refused on the grounds that their betrayer, not the arresting officer, should bear the blame. Wiesenthal disagreed, and in October 1963, after two years of eliminating fourteen other Austrians with the same name, he tracked Silberbauer to Vienna. Silberbauer was suspended from the police force pending an investigation into undeclared Nazi activities during the war. When the Dutch media learned of his whereabouts, they descended on his home and he admitted to them that he had arrested Anne Frank. The story was broken to the world's media on November 11, 1963, and an investigation into the identity of the betrayer was reopened.
Silberbauer's memories of the arrest were notably vivid - he in particular recalled Otto and Anne Frank. When he asked Otto Frank how long they had been in hiding, Frank answered "Two years and one month." Silberbauer was incredulous, until Otto stood Anne against the marks made on the wall to measure her height since they had arrived in the annex, showing that she had grown even since the last mark had been made. Silberbauer said that she "looked like the pictures in the books, but a little older, and prettier. 'You have a lovely daughter', I said to Mr. Frank" (Roses from the Earth, pp. 245-246).
Silberbauer had only been told by his superiors that the tip came from a 'reliable source' and was unable to provide any information that could help further a police investigation. His superior officer, Julius Dettmann, who had originally taken the call, committed suicide immediately after the war. The Viennese authorities and the Amsterdam police could not produce enough evidence of criminal misdemeanor to prosecute Silberbauer himself, and given Otto Frank's crucial declaration that Silberbauer had obviously acted on orders and behaved correctly and without cruelty during the arrest, the judicial investigation was dropped. His suspension from the police force was lifted and he returned to work.
n 1944 Gestapo was informed of the flat - from 10 000 Jews, who went into hiding, some 5 000 were betrayed. SS Officer Karl Joseph Silberbauer - found in the 1960s by Simon Wiesenthal - arrested the Frank and the Van Pels families. The Franks were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where Anne's mother died. Anne and her sister were transferred from the Dutch concentration camp, Westerbork, to Bergen-Belsen where they both died of typhus.