Anton in 1945
Anton in 2006
|Anton Bikker ("Noah Pool")|
|Portrayed by|| Todd Babcock (1945) |
Peter Graves (2006)
|Episode||The Hen House|
Anton Bikker was a Dutch Nazi collaborator and a guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp for two years. In 1945, during the confusion the end of World War II, Anton fled to the United States, assuming the identity of Noah Pool, a Jew who had been killed at Auschwitz. Journalist Lo Kinney discovered Anton's true identity, but was killed by Anton, who managed to pose as Noah for over six decades until he was exposed and arrested in 2006.
Anton was a constable in the Dutch police force until the German army invaded his country. While many Dutch citizens resisted the Germans after they took control on May 17, 1940, Anton decided to collaborate with his country's occupiers.
In 1943, Anton was assigned as a guard to Auschwitz. Among the prisoners he was familiar with there, were Noah and his family from the small town of Swalmen, and Johanna Hoffman, whom he tattooed with a number on her arm. Noah managed to survive longer than most by painting portraits for the guards, including Anton. While Anton watched him paint, Noah would talk of music and art. Noah would tell Anton of his life and his family in America, his third cousin Arthur Pool and Arthur's young son David, and how he wished to meet them someday. When there was no one left to paint, however, Noah was killed.
In the confusion at the end of the war in 1945, Anton left Europe and made his way to America. He made contact with Arthur Pool in Philadelphia, and passed himself off as Noah, telling them he'd escaped through Switzerland. He quickly bonded with the family, particularly young David. Arthur's service during the war had left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, leaving him somewhat distant to his family. "Noah" soon became an "uncle" and surrogate father to his "nephew" David.
Sometime later, in June 1945, Arthur was visited by Lo Kinney, a reporter and advice columnist from the Philadelphia Sentinel. Lo had given Arthur's wife advice in her column criticizing Arthur and Arthur had come to her newsroom to confront her about it. Lo had come to Arthur to apologize and hear his side of things. It was there that she and Anton met for the first time, when he brought David home from the movies. After hearing of "Noah"'s past, the two were instantly taken with one another and would soon become romantically involved.
Weeks later, in July, the two were on a date at a fair in the park. Anton told Lo of Noah's life, passing it off as his own, when they were interrupted by Davis "Birdie" Birdsol, a colleague of Lo's, angry to see Lo out socializing with "Noah" when she was supposed to be writing a story about him for Birdie.
Lo would confront Birdie about this, but Birdie reminded Lo that "Noah"'s story hadn't added up, given how unlikely it was that a Jew could have slipped across the Swiss borders. Birdie then gave her the address of Johanna Hoffman, who had survived Auschwitz and relocated to Philly herself, so she could follow up on his story.
Lo visited Johanna at her home. Johanna appeared happy to tell her about Noah until Lo told her that he was also living in Philly. Johanna explained this was impossible; Noah was dead. When Lo showed her a picture they'd taken together, Johanna recoiled in horror and told her Anton's true identity.
Lo was heartbroken at the revelation of who the man she loved really was, but resolved to do the right thing. She quickly composed an article, A War Criminal in Philly, telling the truth about Anton, then prepared a note to Johanna asking to meet her at the Lawndale Train Station at 10 P.M. that night so she could show her the article.
Anton stopped by the newsroom with David, curious when Lo didn't join them at the park as planned. Anton was puzzled by the cold reception at first. Lo made veiled references about a letter to her column from a woman who was seeing a man who wasn't who she thought he was, however, and had done things in the past. It was then that Anton realized she knew. He tried to appeal to her that if two people love each other, it did not matter, but she was unswayed. Anton then overheard a Newsboy saying he would deliver Lo's note to Johanna's house. David, who had read the note when Lo dropped it, innocently told his uncle what it said.
Lo would not meet Johanna at the station however. Johanna had already left Philadelphia that very day, unable to bear living in the same city as Anton. The note was eventually returned to Lo's files.
Instead, Anton arrived at the asking, asking why she was meeting Johanna. Lo told him Johanna had seen the picture they'd taken together in the park, and ask how he could lie to her. Anton told her he'd watched the real Noah Pool paint for hours, talking about his life. Anton admitted he'd seen a man better than he was.
Anton begged her to forgive her, telling her she knew him and that with her, he was free. A devastated Lo only said that Noah was dead and everything she knew was a lie. Anton insisted that how they felt about each other was not a lie. "I love you!" Anton pleaded, as a passing train approached, "and I know you love me!" "No, Anton, no!" She answered. "I love Noah!"
Devastated and enraged, Anton shoved her off the platform, into the path of the train, tearing her purse from her, with her article inside, as he did. Lo was killed instantly.
With both the women who knew his secret gone, Anton was safe for the time being to resume his life as Noah. Anton would successfully maintain his ruse for the next sixty-one years. He would continue being part of the Pool family for decades, teaching David to ask out a girl and drive as he got older. He eventually lost most of his Dutch accent, and continued painting dark images, haunted by his time at Auschwitz.
In 2006, Tommy Gillis found Lo's note to Johanna in her old files. Assuming "this will not stand" was in fact a threat someone had sent to Lo, police reopened her case. Arthur had passed away shortly before this, and detectives questioned David, now an older man, about his father's relationship with Lo, and David told them about his "uncle Noah".
Anton, having been told to expect detectives, was not surprised when detectives Nick Vera and Kat Miller arrived at his home to talk. Maintaining his persona, he told them about his blossoming relationship with Lo, and about their day at the park together. He also told them about her confrontation with Birdie, hoping to deflect suspicion off himself.
The detectives accepted his story and left. Anton suspected he was still not safe, however, and quickly made plans to leave Philadelphia. While he was preparing to run, Detective Lilly Rush tracked down Johanna, still alive, living in New York, where she learned the truth about Anton. After learning that Anton was missing, Detective Scotty Valens confronted David with what they had learned about his "uncle". David refused to believe it at first, but after hearing Johanna's name, he recalled hearing it the last time he'd seen Lo, and admitted to Scotty where Anton was going.
Lilly and Lieutenant John Stillman caught up with Anton outside the airport. Anton continued to deny the truth at first, about his real name, and that Lo had given up on him. While he didn't outright confirm his identity, he stated "I am better than the worst thing I ever did." The detectives were unable to let the truth hide any longer and confronted him about Lo. "If she had let herself love me," he said wistfully, "it all would have been okay."
The capture of a real live Nazi war criminal was a news event with numerous reporters present when Anton was brought in to the police station. Tommy and Johanna arrived to witness his arrest as well, while a betrayed David was unable to even look at Anton.
Lo's purse was found about Anton's possessions, her article still inside. The Sentinel published it soon after, and Lo's final story, bringing a war criminal to justice, was made public at last.
- Peter Graves, who played the older Anton Bikker, died on March 14, 2010. It's unlcear if Anton should therefore be considered deceased as well.