January 12, 2010, - 12:05 am

Miep Gies, Who Hid Anne Frank, Rest In Peace

By Debbie Schlussel

Sad news from Europe.  Miep Gies, a heroic Dutch woman who risked her own life to hide Jews during the Holocaust, passed away at age 100.  You are probably familiar with her name because Ms. Gies hid the family of Otto Frank, including his daughter, Anne, from the Nazis.  And she’s the one who found Anne Frank’s Diary, which lives on worldwide as an important, moving memoir of a young teen girl in hiding.

miepgies

Miep Gies, RIP

I always paid extra attention to the Anne Frank story and what happened to those who helped the Frank family because my own Holocaust survivor grandfather, who was a concentration camp inmate at Bergen Belsen (where my mother was born), remembered seeing the gaunt, anorexic Anne Frank when he was there toward the end of the Holocaust. This woman, Mrs. Gies, was a saint on earth.

Gies was the last survivor of a group of co-workers who hid the Frank family and four other Jews in a secret annex of an Amsterdam office building owned by Anne’s father, Otto. From July 6, 1942, until Aug. 4, 1944, Gies, her husband, Jan, and the other helpers risked arrest and possible death by providing the Jews with food, supplies, news and a link to the outside world.

After the Gestapo raided the annex and sent the Franks and the others in hiding to concentration camps, Gies and a fellow worker, Bep Voskuijl, sifted through the debris and found Anne’s cloth-covered diary. Gies hid it in a desk drawer until after the war, hoping to return it to its young author.

Upon learning that Anne and her sister, Margot, died at Bergen-Belsen, Gies gave the diary to Otto Frank, the only family member who survived the camps. He published it in 1947.

Today, “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl,” a memoir of the Holocaust, is one of the most widely read books in schools around the world. It has been translated from Dutch into 67 languages and made into a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, an opera and 1959 film.

After the book was published, Gies devoted the rest of her life to keeping the memory of Anne Frank alive. She traveled to dozens of countries, gave speeches at schools and always responded personally to letters from children. Every Aug. 4, she marked the day her friends were taken away by staying indoors with the curtains drawn.

Gies received the Raoul Wallenberg Award for bravery in 1990 and the Order of Merit from Germany in 1994. In Israel, the Yad Vashem memorial pays tribute to Gies as a member of the Righteous Among Nations, a list of non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust. She humbly accepted the accolades, insisting that what she did during those two years wasn’t extraordinary.

“I am not a hero,” Gies wrote in her autobiography, “Anne Frank Remembered” (Simon & Schuster, 1988). “I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more — much more — during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness.”

Actually, most Dutch people did not help the Jews. That’s a myth. And it makes the extraordinary courage of Miep Gies all the more unique and rare.

Gies was born Hermine Santrouschitz to Christian parents on Feb. 15, 1909, in Vienna. Austrians were suffering from a food shortage after World War I, and Gies was sent to Leiden, the Netherlands, as part of a relief program to help malnourished children. She lived with a foster family, who gave her the name Miep, believing that Hermine was too formal.

In 1933, she heard about an opening as an office assistant for Otto Frank, who had just moved to Amsterdam with his family from Germany. Gies took the job and became good friends with Otto Frank, his wife, Edith, and their two daughters, Margot and Anne.

The German occupation of the Netherlands began in May 1940, and soon after the Nazis shut down Jewish newspapers, fired Jewish civil servants and barred Jewish children from public schools. Having lived in Germany, Otto Frank knew the situation would only get worse. In the spring of 1942, Miep recalled in a 1998 interview, Frank called her into his office and told her of his plan:

“He said, ‘Sit down, Miep, I have to tell you something very important. It’s really sort of secret. We’re planning on going into hiding here, in this building. Are you prepared to help us, to bring us food?’ I answered yes, of course.”

The entrance to the back annex was hidden by a moving bookcase. It consisted of two floors and an attic that was accessible by ladder.

Gies fetched paper, vegetables and meat for the Franks and the four other Jews — Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son, Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer — making sure to visit several shops to avoid suspicion. The other office workers bought milk and bread and kept the food-products business going. Gies developed a bond with Anne Frank, who was 13 when she went into hiding. She is mentioned several times in the diary.

“Miep has so much to carry she looks like a pack mule,” Anne wrote. “She goes forth nearly every day to scrounge up vegetables, and then bicycles back with her purchases in large shopping bags. She’s also the one who brings five library books with her every Saturday.”

Gies said she never knew who betrayed the Franks. Suspicion fell on a co-worker, she said, but an official investigation found no evidence. As for her own fate, Gies said she was lucky that the supervising officer was from her hometown of Vienna. . . .

Otto Frank lived with Miep and Jan Gies for seven years after the war. He died in 1980.

What an incredibly brave woman. Her righteous acts in risking her own life to save others will not be forgotten. And certainly, she has more than earned her place in heaven.

Miep Gies, Woman of Valor, Rest in Peace.

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42 Responses

R.I.P.

I remember reading the book in school. So sad.

That whole generation was just tough as nails.

Joe on January 12, 2010 at 12:18 am

The Story of Anne Frank and Miep Gies must never be left to fade away into the forgotten past. It is a timeless story about freedom and human dignity that is as relevant and important today as it was during the struggle for life and dignity of the Franks and the millions of Jews who suffered dehumanization and death at the hands of an out of control government. It was a government that had abandoned constitutional rule of law in favor of a new regime built on a bureaucracy of the elite.

Could it happen again? Unless we are vigilant and keep the story of Miep Gies and Anne Frank alive, it will happen again. It will happen wherever there is a cult of personal allegiance to a leader and power is concentrated in too few hands.

Lord Acton’s words; “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” were not limited to the Nazi Party. His words are a warning to all men that such power in government can spring up and take control whenever good men become complacent and trust their responsibility to others. Oppressive out of control government is what happens when good men fail to guard the practice of constitutional rule of law. It will happen again if good men let it happen. And, it may not be limited to the Jews.

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    tingtingloved on January 13, 2010 at 7:02 am

Thank you, Debbie.
Jon

Jon on January 12, 2010 at 2:10 am

Rest in Peace, Miep Gies, and may the Al-mighty avenge the blood of Anne Frank and the six million who died with her.
Ms. Schlussel, surely you know that the “pulitzer Prize winning play” turned Anne, the eloquent particularist, into a trite assimilationist?
Anne Frank wasn’t anorexic, she was starving. Anorexia nervosa cases can get to look like victims of the Holocaust, but they inlict it on themselves and they see themselves as fat.
I’ve been convinced for a long time that a lot of people are faking when they pretend to be moved by Anne Frank. They like to hold weep-ins over dead Jews, but they go into paroxysms of horror when Jews, in Israel, try to survive. They call Israel an apartheid state because Israel won’t let the Arabs in to slaughter Jews. Anybody who thinks Israel is an apartheid country thinks the Franks were running an apartheid attic.
For more than 60 years, ignorant people have been asking why the Jews of the Holocaust “didn’t resist.” (Unarmed, starved, raped, tortured, jammed into ghettoes and death camps, an astounding number of Jews did, in fact, resist.) Now, when the Jews are confronting an enemy even more evil, even more ruthless, even more determined to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth than the Nazis were, (by and large, the Nazis wanted their own children to stay alive and didn’t use them as human shields or train them to be suicide bombers) the minute Jews make any effort to fight back, people start comparing them to the Nazis.

Miranda Rose Smith on January 12, 2010 at 4:22 am

There are very few individuals possessed of such selflessness and courage. It may be why G-d grants them long life as a reward for their good deeds on earth. We may be sure Miep Gees has gone on to her heavenly reward.

She will be greatly missed.

NormanF on January 12, 2010 at 6:45 am

Thanks for posting this, Debbie. Miep was indeed an angel, and our loss is heaven’s gain. I’m grateful for this reminder to pause and reflect and appreciate this amazing woman. She was a brave woman and a true hero.

LRL on January 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

I tried to see her speak back in NY in the early 90′s. But was not able to get in to the small event because there were lines around 2 city blocks. But I read that she was a remarkably humble woman who had no desire to be regarded as a hero. I’m sure her arrival in heaven was marked by all the angels- rising to give her a standing ovation. Rest in peace.

Mary on January 12, 2010 at 8:49 am

I read Anne Frank’s diary when I was a young girl. Her story really touched me (how could it not?). I made sure that I visited the Anne Frank House when I went to Amsterdam in 1991. I recommend the tour to anyone that visits Amsterdam. Miep Gies was a true hero.

Angela04 on January 12, 2010 at 9:11 am

It would be great if you were to write aa post and tell what your grandfather remembered of Anne Frank. I’m sue many would be interested in hearing it.

Mike on January 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

Debbie
Thanks for this posting. I also was able to read this in High School.
Jon
Well said, couldn’t say it any better.

Laters All

Ed on January 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

With the increasing Islamafication of Europe, will Anne’s diary be taught/read in schools there much longer? It isn’t just a matter of not forgetting, you must fight the loss of freedom that will let others take it away.

Thanks Debbie. RIP, Miep.

Alain41 on January 12, 2010 at 10:57 am

Whether this is actually Anne Frank I don’t know, but this video supposedly shows Anne looking out a window:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hvtXuO5GzU

God’s people shine brightest during the darkest days.

Douglas Q on January 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

Thanks for posting this Debbie. Anne Frank put a human face on the Holocaust. I always think of what we as a species lost by murdering Anne Frank and millions like her. We may have lost the cure for Cancer, the resolution of our energy problems, a great leader who could have brought peace to the Middle East, another Shakespeare, etc.

The part of her diary that affected me the most was when she (like normal teenage girls) was angry at her mother all of the time and doubted that her mother cared about her. We then find out later in the concentration camp that her mother starved herself to death by giving all of her food to her daughters so that they would survive.

jimmyPx on January 12, 2010 at 11:22 am

A very good depiction of Miep is in the film The Attic which also starred Paul Scofield as Otto Frank and Mary Steenburgen as Miep. Miep could have joined Nazi sympathizing groups in the Netherlands because of her background but chose not to. May she rest in peace. And shame on the people who collaborate with the Islamists.

Julian on January 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm

RIP Heroine.

goldenmike4393 on January 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I just checked. I am sure Miep’s safe with Corrie Tenboom.

    http://www.corrietenboom.com/

    Too many people looked the other way.

    goldenmike4393 on January 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

      If, G-d willing, I ever get the time and money to visit Holland, I have already set aside one day for the Anne Frank Museum and one day for the Corrie Ten Boom Museum.

      Miranda Rose Smith on January 13, 2010 at 4:09 am

WHO GIVES A RATS ASS?

snitspitsr on January 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Me.

    Miranda Rose Smith on January 13, 2010 at 3:40 am

GET OVER IT THERE A MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUFFERED ON THIS PLANT, WHY SHOULD WE ALWAYS HAVE THE JEWISH CAUSE THROWN IN OUR FACES. THIS SITE IS CLEARLY A RACIST BLOG WHERE DIBBIE AND HERB BLOGGERS ARE ALLOWED TO SAY WHAT EVER THEY WANT ABOUT WHO EVER THEY WANT. HERE IS SOME OF YOUR OWN MEDICNE. DEAL WITHIT.

snitspitsr on January 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    First, there is general presumption that a person who types in all capital letters is mentally unbalanced. Shouting doe not increase the persuasiveness of one’s arguments, but is more akin to an animal braying.

    As for your comments, they really just show that you are really the racist here. This thread remembers what Meip Gies, at great personal, for someone else. That is probably beyond your comprehension. From your remarks, I think I can reasonably infer that you are an Islamist. If you are, what sort of witness are you giving your own faith?

    sorrow01 on January 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Since when are Jews a race?

    Miranda Rose Smith on January 13, 2010 at 3:35 am

Thank you Debbie for your post about Miep Gies.

I did not know about this, until I visited your Blog today, that Miep had crossed over into spirit world.

Miep was such an incredible woman who did so much for those hiding in The Secret Annex, and for the little girl would become a Voice for The Jewish Children who were Murdered by an Evil Nazi Government.

100 years old.

She lived a long life, and she did a lot of good in those 100 years.

God Bless Miep Gies.

The world needs more like Miep.

Israel4Zion on January 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Thanks Debbie for posting this. Very touching.

To snitspitsr,

I would love for you to make your comments to me face to face.

Frisco on January 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm

. frisco, comments like these will not stop unless Debbie decides to monitor her site, She has discriminated against others racially vilified groups with her outspoken views. why should we put-up with it

snitspitsr on January 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

frisco, dont think for a minute that i support the nazis because they will burn in hell, but this site is a rubbish site that causes a lot of hatred , now tell me what is the difference between debbie and hitler .

snitspitsr on January 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Ms. Sclussel never killed anybody.

    Miranda Rose Smith on January 13, 2010 at 3:42 am

    If you have to ask such an absurd question, then you really are an idiot in addition to being a racist. Now, please go under your rock.

    Julian on January 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

Thank You, Debbie. Miep Gies is a truly wonderful and courageous woman.

Keamon on January 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm

snipspiter/TrollTurd,

You should go kiss son Muzzie Butt somewhere else. Comparing Debbie to Haman/Hitler/Achmunutjob is a sign of immaturity AND stupidity all rolled into one nasty package.

This website is a personal website run by Debbie and you have NO SAY in what is posted. If you don’t like the content/comments, don’t click the link. It’s that simple. and will make all parties involved happy.

SLOHomemaker on January 12, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    slohomemaker, Spoken like a true jew. This site is a self glorification website designed to make Jews feel better about there own miserable lives and there rediculous religion. PS: As long as this site is free for all to view, I will Blog until the cows come home…..opps! Im mean the Jews come home!

    snipspiter on January 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      “slohomemaker, Spoken like a true jew.”

      You just unmasked yourself. Also, what race is Islam again?

      sorrow01 on January 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm

      “There rediculous religion?” You are a very (sic) man.

      Miranda Rose Smith on January 13, 2010 at 3:44 am

        Actually, it appears more likely that he is a voluntary illiterate.

        Worry01 on January 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Amen. God bless Miep.

Mack Hall on January 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Great article, Debbie. My own reflection of Anne Frank, is that I recall being in 8th grade, and given the assignment to read the book. At that time, I confess, I had a high resentment toward all Jews in general. Thus, what pity I might have had toward Anne Frank was tainted and warped by my prejudice. The book actually heightened that resentment.
Later, as you know, when I was “born again” as a believing Christian–I was changed to be philo-Semitic–and I see EVERY Jew as amazing proof that God is real. The sufferings of Anne and her family are pathetic and “sacred.”
Regardless whether it will be well received or PC to say so, the context I have is that through all the sufferings of the Jews, with prophecy telling us the hardest suffering is yet to come, God will redeem his people to Jesus, the rejected crucified, yet risen Messiah.
In Matthew 25 we learn that G-d has special honor for those who do anything to help “the least of these my brethren.” This issue is given as indicative of who enters the kingdom and who is sent to hell. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:31-46&version=NIV

BB on January 12, 2010 at 9:29 pm

In the Shul I began davening in, back in PA, there was Dr. who went to the same school as Ann Frank. I asked if he know her, and said he didn’t know who she was back then, but most likely passed her in the hall. I then asked if there were more like them, and he said that yes, many Jewish children were saved by the Dutch.

It then occurred to me that it would be great if he were able to write about it, to give some insight into what that world was like. But when I asked if he would to that, he said he couldn’t. The memories were just too overwhelming, he said, and he couldn’t bear to think about them. And he was a survivor.

It was painful to realize that whatever history we have of that time is merely a sliver of what actually was, and how much of it we will never know once the sources of that information are gone.

yonason on January 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Oh, wow snipspiter…I really do not know what to say about your obvious display of stupidity. I am a Christian and this is one of my favorite sites…nothing to do with being Jewish. Like SLOHomemaker said – if you do not like what is being said do not visit this site. You may want to try out a spell/grammar check before you post things too.

Angela04 on January 12, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Gies received the Raoul Wallenberg Award for bravery in 1990 and the Order of Merit from Germany in 1994. All of our modest dresses are made with the finest quality fabrics. In spite of the predominant fashion trends in wedding dresses today, each of our dresses offers features hand beading, exquisite detailing, or other intricate details to make each gown a unique wearable piece of art.
In Israel, the Yad Vashem memorial pays tribute to Gies as a member of the Righteous Among Nations, a list of non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust. She humbly accepted the accolades, insisting that what she did during those two years wasn’t extraordinary.

custom made dresse for wedding on January 12, 2010 at 11:20 pm

May Mrs. Geis rest in the arms of our loving God for what she has done!
I visited Bergen Belsen when I was stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany in ’78-’81. I was stunned to see the mass grave markers; 10,000 buried here, 20,000 buried there, covering the former death camp. You cannot walk through such a place unchanged. Anyone who can’t see the importance of honoring such people for their brave acts are cut from the same cloth as the local townspeople who knew of the camps and did nothing but go on with their own lives to their shame.

Steve Hauptman on January 13, 2010 at 2:09 am

I met this wonderful woman in Albuquerque when she and a gentleman who was then in charge of the Anne Frank Museum in Belgium came to a meeting of a Gentile/Jewish friendship group. She was a truly humble woman who was truly brave.

Even though there may not have been many Dutch people who assisted the Jews please do not forget the Ten Boom family who paid with the lives of many of their family members lives as a result of the hundreds of Jews they hid and assisted to get out of Holland during that terrible time.

Let us never forget this tragedy and NEVER allow it to happen to any group of people again. If we don’t stand up for those who are being persecuted then who will stand up for us when we are the targets?

Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything!

April Romero on October 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

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