Arson suspected in Anne Frank barracks fire

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Dutch police suspect arson may have been the cause of the fire that destroyed the barracks where Anne Frank worked for four weeks in WWII.

The Hague – Arson may have caused the fire that razed a Dutch barracks where Jewish teenager Anne Frank was forced to work before her deportation to a WWII Nazi concentration camp, Dutch police said Wednesday.

"We suspect arson and have started an investigation," said a police statement that urged witnesses to the blaze to come forward.

"A preliminary investigation has established that the fire probably did not have a technical cause."

The fire overnight Saturday "completely destroyed" the barracks, according to emergency services in the nearby city of Groningen in the northern Netherlands.

The mainly wooden barracks were removed from Camp Westerbork, now a Holocaust memorial, in 1957 and used ever since as an agricultural warehouse at Veendam, some 40km away.

Westerbork had served as a transit camp during the war for Jews and Roma due to be transferred to German concentration camps.

The barracks were to have been returned to Westerbork later this year to become part of the memorial.

Anne Frank and her sister Margot had worked in the barracks for about four weeks during the war, dismantling batteries.

Anne, her father Otto, mother Edith, sister Margot and four other Jews hid from Nazi occupiers for nearly two years in an empty section of their Amsterdam home.

The teenager chronicled the details of her life until the group was betrayed and arrested in August 1944. Anne died in 1945 in the Bergen-Belsen camp in northern Germany.

Her writings were discovered by family friend Miep Gies shortly after the Nazis left. Gies kept them in safekeeping and gave them to Otto Frank when he returned after the war.

The first printed edition of Anne Frank's Diary came out in Dutch in 1947.

The best-seller has since been translated into more than 70 languages.

Otto Frank, who was the only one in his family to survive the concentration camps, died in 1980.

AFP / Expatica

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