On 4 August 1944, everyone’s fears are realised.

The arrest

Warehouse entrance On August 4, 1944 Silberbauer and his men entered the building through this door.
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It is 4 August 1944 – a warm, sunny day. That morning, investigators turn up at the premises at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. They go up to the first floor, where the people helping the group in hiding work. The detectives question Victor Kugler and search the building with him. The inspection includes the room with the hinged bookcase and the hiding place behind it is discovered.

Police

Dutch detectives headed by chief squad leader (SS-Hauptscharführer) Karl Silberbauer of the SS turn up at the warehouse on the ground floor between half past ten and eleven o’clock in the morning. They speak to a clerk, Willem van Maaren, who directs them upstairs. On the first floor the office staff are at work when the door suddenly opens. Miep Gies recounted later: “A little man came in with a revolver in his hand, pointing at me, and he said to me ‘sit where you are and don’t move’.” The investigators go to Kugler’s office and question him. As director, he is responsible for how the business runs. He has to go with them on a search of the property.

SS-onderofficier Karl Josef Silberbauer
Karl Josef Silberbauer oversees the arrest of the inhabitants of the Secret Annex.

Kugler later told a journalist: “The police went upstairs to the store room at the front of the house and asked what was in all the boxes, sacks and bales. I had to open everything. I thought to myself, if it is just a house search I hope it is over soon.” But the detectives go through the whole building – and discover the entry to the hiding place behind the bookcase.

Waiting

While the investigators are with Victor Kugler, Bep Voskuijl quickly leaves without being noticed. She does not come back and is not detained. There is no guard on the property. Jan Gies, Miep’s husband, turns up as usual at about midday and simply walks in. Miep warns him and he immediately goes away again. He seeks out Kleiman’s brother, who works nearby on the Bloemgracht. Together they walk to the bridge opposite the hiding place and see a vehicle at the door. A short while later the hideaways are taken away, together with Kleiman and Kugler. It is about one o’clock in the afternoon. The raid took just over two hours.

Boekenkast
The bookcase that conceals the entrance to the Secret Annex

Taken by surprise

The people in hiding are caught completely off guard. They have lived with the anxiety of being discovered for more than two years and now it is happening. Otto Frank describes that moment: “It was around ten-thrity. I was upstairs with the Van Pelses in Peter’s room and I was helping him with his schoolwork… Suddenly someone came running up the stairs…then the door opened and a man was standing right in front of us with a gun in his hand and it was pointed at us… Downstairs everyone was gathered. My wife, the children, the Van Pelses stood their with their hands up.” A few minutes later, Fritz Pfeffer is also escorted into the room.

 

Valuables

The people in hiding must turn over all their valuables. Silberbauer picks up Otto’s briefcase which contains Anne’s diaries and papers and he shakes it empty so he can carry away any valuables he collects. The pages of Anne’s diary fall onto the wooden floor. Otto Frank: “Then he said: ‘Get Ready. Everyone must be back here in five minutes.’” Miep Gies: “Later I heard everyone coming downstairs, very slowly.” After the raid, the people in hiding are taken away in an enclosed truck with both of the male helpers, Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, who have also been arrested.

AFS_A_Gies_III_022.jpgLater I heard everyone coming downstairs, very slowly.

Miep Gies

Interrogated

The eight people in hiding are taken to the SD-prison on Euterpestraat. They are locked up in a large space with other people who have also been arrested. They are later interrogated individually. The police try to find out if the helpers or people in hiding also know of other addresses where people could be hiding. Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler refuse to answer. Otto responds to this question by saying they have lost all contact with their friends and acquaintances, because they have been locked away for twenty-five months, so therefore he doesn't know anything.

AFS_A_OFrank_III_002.001.jpgI still find it impossible to talk about certain things. And I no longer want to talk about other things. For instance how I felt when we were routed out of our hiding place.

Otto Frank, 1979

Separated

Following the interrogations, the people in hiding and the helpers are separated from each other. Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler are moved to the nearby prison on Amstelveenseweg. The eight people in hiding are taken to a detention center on the Weteringschans.

Anne Frank Stichting
Pages from Anne's diary scattered over the floor.

Bep and Miep found Anne's diary

Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl are left behind on the Prinsengracht. Miep Gies explains: “Later Bep and I went upstairs to the Franks' bedroom. And there we saw Anne’s diary lying on the ground. Let’s pick it up I said. Because Bep stood there looking around in a daze. I said: Pick it up, pick it up, let’s get out of here! We did the best we could to to collect it; we were so frightened! We went downstairs and there we were, Bep and I. What now Bep? Then she said: ‘You’re the oldest. You should keep it’.”

The Security Service (SS) in Amsterdam

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Boekenkast

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