Miep Gies, Protector of Anne Frank, Passes Away

Steve Novick

A true heroine, Miep Gies, last survivor of the small group of Dutch people who protected Anne Frank's family, passed away yesterday. It was Mrs. Gies who gathered up and preserved the scattered pages of Frank's diary. Here's a passage from the article in the Times  today:

"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.

"Mrs. Gies, while continuing to work for Mr. Frank’s business, which remained open under figurehead Christian management, played a central role in caring for the hidden. She found food for them, brought books and news of the outside world and provided emotional support, bringing Anne her first pair of high-heeled shoes and baking a holiday cake. On one occasion, Miep and Jan Gies (he is referred to in the diary as Henk, one of many pseudonyms Anne used) spent a night in the annex to experience the terror there for themselves."

Raise a glass to Miep Gies next time you have a glass to raise.

I

Comments

  • ThinkOregon (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I was sadden by her passing. But like you, Steve, I rejoice in her life. She reminds us that we have much to be thankful for, many to be responsible for, and most importantly - love we should be generous with. God bless her, her family and all those who remember.

  • rfd97230 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I met a woman back when that claimed to have been instrumental in turning her in. Anti-Nazi, but even more anti-semitic. Shows that evil regimes use the banality already present. I have been reminded of that during a number of the 2009 Senate debates.

  • JonB (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thanks for posting this, Steve. I didn't really know much about Miep Gies until I performed in a community theater production of The Diary of Anne Frank. She was a true hero in every sense of the word, and if we had more people like her in the world, it would be a better place.

    Long live her memory.

    ..Jon

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Not to take anything away from this truly courageous and remarkable woman and her family, but there were many others in Europe who risked their lives to save Jewish children.

    Contrast them with a blogger who said on another thread some time ago that he didn't want his taxes raised another hundred dollars even if it meant helping kids get health insurance. Unfortunately, there are many others like that person.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    One of Anne Frank's school mates has been living here in Portland for many years and has been profiled in the Oregonian, but I do not know if she is still with us.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    rfd97230:

    I met a woman back when that claimed to have been instrumental in turning her in. Anti-Nazi, but even more anti-semitic. Shows that evil regimes use the banality already present.

    Bob T:

    A lot of what the Nazis relied on was a level of fear that would cause people to turn in others or report cases of missing supplies, etc. because they fear that they are being tested and watched, and that failure to report what may already be known was seen as open resistance which would lead to arrest and imprisonment, torture, execution and so on. So many of those who turned people in did so out of fear rather than any shared views with the Germans.

    But this really points out the courage of those who didn't go along. This is also why resistance movements in occupied Europe were often small by design (and not because of a lack of interest by most people, as some like to try to point out), because that meant that most French, or Dutch or Danish citizens wouldn't be able to give the Germans much information at all if taken in.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

    I have been reminded of that during a number of the 2009 Senate debates.

  • rfd97230 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What I forgot to mention, Bob T. (I assume not the Rep(rehensible) one), is that she was quite proud of herself. I have never met a Dutch person that will admit to being affected by them in a way that made them fearful. Maybe whistling in the dark, but it's the common sentiment.

    Two poignant examples: I lived next door to a public building that dated from before the war. I mentioned to a neighbor once that the neighborhood was hard to fit into; very aloof neighbors. She answered that it had always been that way, so much so that the Gestapo had to stop using the building because they were tired of none of the shopkeepers selling them anything or anyone speaking to them. Oh, they do mention fear regarding the railway nearby. Bombed by the USAAF because it carried V2s.

    I also met a guy in Amsterdam that survived the last winter (eating tulip bulbs and basically starving). We were talking about it on Liberation Day. He said he would never forget the sight of an American Sherman tank rolling down the road. I said, "I can't imagine how you felt, not having had real food for months in a freezing winter". He said, "oh, we forgot all about that. Totally. The hatch opened and a black man stuck his head out, and asked us something we didn't understand in English. I looked at my friend and he at me, mouths agape, and, in unison we said, 'He can talk!'" He went on to explain that they had never seen a black person, and it was absolutely no different for them than if a spacecraft landed by us and a Martian stepped out.

    Real history is complicated and doesn't well fit the armchair was my point.

    I certainly agree with the fact that Gies was a notable exception to the average. If anything, my points show he was a bigger hero. He wasn't told by his friends "good on 'ya mate"! He was at much at risk from them as the Nazis. The little old lady in question had pure venom for his "putting us all at risk".

    Late lunch?

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    rfd97230:

    What I forgot to mention, Bob T....is that she was quite proud of herself.

    Bob T:

    It was clear from what you wrote that your friend could not be considered one of the examples I mentioned.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

    <hr/>

connect with blueoregon