Anne Frank and her family were taken into hiding by twenty-three-year-old Bep Voskuijl, at great risk to herself. While Bep plunged into Amsterdam’s black market to source food and medicine for the family, her friendship with Anne bloomed through deep conversations and shared youth. At the same time, Bep’s sister Nelly was collaborating with the Nazis and may have been the one to betray those hiding in the Annex.
In the new book The Last Secret of the Secret Annex, Bep’s son Joop van Wijk-Voskuijl and Jeroen De Bruyn intertwine Bep and Nelly’s story with Anne’s iconic narrative. They reveal deeply held family secrets and provide a powerful understanding of how historical trauma is inherited from one generation to the next. Moderated by Pamela Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History at American University.
Joop van Wijk-Voskuijl is the third of Bep Voskuijl’s four children. He was born in 1949 in Amsterdam. After a successful career as a video producer (creating corporate movies for major Dutch companies) and marketing manager (for newspapers such as NRC Handelsblad and Algemeen Dagblad), Joop retired in 2010 to pursue research and writing with the goal of telling his mother’s story. He also volunteers as a guest lecturer, teaching Dutch schoolchildren and other groups about Anne Frank, the Holocaust, and the resistance during World War II.
Jeroen De Bruyn was born in 1993 in Antwerp. At age fifteen—the same age as Anne when she died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp—Jeroen began doing original research on the Secret Annex. He got to know the Anne Frank House firsthand during an internship there in 2011. He went on to study journalism, subsequently contributing to prominent Flemish news magazines like Knack and Joods Actueel, and working as a senior editor for the major Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen.
Pamela Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History at American University where she directs the Jewish Studies Program and received the university’s highest award, Scholar/Teacher of the Year. Her recent book, America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award’s “Jewish Book of the Year” and appeared in a Hebrew translation. A past president of the Association for Jewish Studies, her consulting work for museums includes the museum and memorial planned for Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. She is currently writing a book about the history of American antisemitism to be published in 2025 by W.W. Norton.