I assigned “The Diary of Anne Frank” to my fourth-grade daughter over the Christmas holidays. We’ve been discussing the bravery of the Frank family’s protectors, including Miep Gies. Now comes word that Gies has passed away (h/t Melissa Clouthier).
Miep Gies, the last survivor among Anne Frank’s protectors and the woman who preserved the diary that endures as a testament to the human spirit in the face of unfathomable evil, died Monday night, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam said. She was 100.
Miep Gies displayed a copy of her book “Anne Frank Remembered” at her apartment in Amsterdam in 1998.
The Miep Gies Web site said Mrs. Gies died after a short illness but provided no other details.
“I am not a hero,” Mrs. Gies wrote in her memoir, “Anne Frank Remembered,” published in 1987. “I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did and more — much more — during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the heart of those of us who bear witness.”
…Miep Gies was born Feb. 15, 1909, as Hermine Santrouschitz, a member of a Roman Catholic family in Vienna. When she was 11, she was sent to Leiden to be cared for by a Dutch family, having been among the many Austrian children suffering from food shortages in the wake of World War I. She was given the Dutch nickname Miep and later adopted by the family.
When she was 13, the family moved to Amsterdam, and in 1933 she became a secretary to Otto Frank, who was overseeing the Dutch branch of a German company selling an ingredient for manufacturing jam. Mr. Frank had fled Hitler’s Germany, and he was soon joined by his wife and daughters.
Miep became a trusted employee and friend of the Frank family and joined in its alarm over the persecution of German Jews. In May 1940, the Netherlands fell in Germany’s invasion of the Low Countries. In July 1942, when thousands of Dutch Jews were being deported to concentration camps, the Frank family went into hiding in unused rooms above Mr. Frank’s office. He had asked Mrs. Gies if she would help shelter them, and she unhesitatingly agreed.
The annex became a hiding place not only for the Franks but for three members of a family named van Pels — the father a business colleague of Mr. Frank’s — and Mrs. Gies’s dentist, Fritz Pfeffer.
Having married a Dutch social worker, Jan Gies, in 1941, Miep Gies joined with him and three other employees of Mr. Frank’s business in sheltering the eight Jews and caring for their daily needs. The protectors risked death if caught by the Nazis.
Here’s video of Gies recalling when and how she handed Anne Frank’s diary to her father, Otto (click on arrow on right-hand corner for captions):