The hidden truth about Elli Vossen, the youngest helper of the Secret Annex
2015, Dutch publication, Bep Voskuihl Producties bv, Laag-Soeren
2018, English translation
I ordered this book online to add to my collection of Anne Frank literature, and to learn about the title's "untold secret".
Elli Vossen is known as the youngest helper of the Secret Annex where Anne Frank’s family hid with 4 other people during the Nazi occupation of Holland. However, her real name was Bep Voskuijl (van Wijkt by marriage). Joop van Wijkt, one of the authors, is Bep’s son.
Due to the choppy feel of the English translation (you can tell it’s translated), I decided to skip to the back of the book to determine exactly what the secret was and possibly not read or just skim the rest. The secret, which the family managed to avoid talking about for many years, (spoiler alert) is that there is reason to believe that one of Bep’s sisters, Nellie, and not the others who have been blamed as potentially guilty, was responsible for revealing the hiders of the Secret Annex to the police. She surely had some idea of what was going on due to living in the same house with her father and Bep, who were both involved with the hiding. Nellie frequented Nazi officers and sympathizers, so it was likely she had collaborated and turned in the hiders. This was an extremely sore spot for the family and it was easier to not think about, much less talk about it in the painful years after the war.
I let the book sit for awhile and considered giving it away since I’d learned what I wanted to know. However, at one point I decided to pick it up again. I then read straight through, finding it very interesting and educational, so I recommend reading the whole book. If you don’t, you’ll miss some rare insight into Bep’s experience as a helper, her relationship with Anne, and her sense of trauma and failure when the hiders were discovered, which affected the rest of her life.
In spite of her desire to stay out of the spotlight, Bep had a strong feeling of duty to humanity which inspired others, and in one case led to the founding of the Holocaust Education Center in Hiroshima. https://www.yadvashem.org/download/education/conf/Otsuka.pdf
The book also records interactions between the Secret Annex helpers after the war, and with Otto Frank, the sole survivor among the hiders.
Dutch Prime Minister, first time apology for country's role in holocaust: https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/world/dutch-prime-minister-apologizes-for-countrys-role-in-holocaust-403039/