Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Today is the one year anniversary of the passing of Miep Gies
Miep Gies: Madam, you will be remembered as one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during World War II and also being one who discovered and preserved Anne Frank's diary, thank you for support and bravery, you will not be forgotten, remembering you on your one year anniversary of your passing,may you rest in peace!
Miep Gies (February 15, 1909 – January 11, 2010) was one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank, her family and several family friends in an attic annex above Anne's father's place of business from the Nazis during World War II.She discovered and preserved Anne Frank's diary after the Franks were arrested.
Early life: Born Hermine Santrouschitz in Vienna, Miep Gies was transported to Leiden from Vienna in December 1920 to escape the food shortages prevailing in Austria after World War I.
In 1922, she moved with her foster family to Amsterdam. In 1933, she met Otto Frank when she applied for the post of temporary secretary in his company, Opekta. The company sold a pectin preparation used for making jams. She initially ran the Complaints and Information desk in Opekta, and was eventually promoted to a more general administrative role.
She became a close friend of the Frank family, as did Jan Gies, whom she married on July 16, 1941 after she refused to join a Nazi women's association and was threatened with deportation back to Austria. Her knowledge of Dutch and German helped the Frank family assimilate into Dutch society, and she and her husband became regular guests at the Franks' home.
Hiding the Franks:
With her husband, and her family friends, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl, Miep Gies helped hide Edith and Otto Frank, their daughters Margot and Anne, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer in a secret upstairs room that was not used in the company's office building on Amsterdam's Prinsengracht from July 1942 to August 4, 1944.
After the Arrest: Gies and the other helpers could have been executed if they had been caught hiding Jews. On the morning of August 4, 1944, acting on information provided by an informant, the Grüne Polizei arrested the people hidden at Frank's place of business, as well as Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman. A few days later, Miep unsuccessfully tried to bribe the Austrian Nazi officer to release her friends.
Before the hiding place was emptied by the authorities, Gies retrieved Anne Frank's diaries and saved them in her desk drawer. Once the war was over and it was confirmed that Anne Frank had perished in Bergen-Belsen, Gies gave the collection of papers and notebooks to the sole survivor from the Secret Annex, Otto Frank. After transcribing sections for his family, his daughter's literary ability became apparent and he arranged for the book's publication in 1947.
Gies did not read the diaries before turning them over to him, and later remarked that if she had she would have had to destroy them because the diary contained the names of all five of the helpers as well as their black market suppliers. She was persuaded by Otto Frank to read it in its second printing.
Later life and death
Miep's and Jan's only child, Paul, was born on July 13, 1950. Jan Gies died in 1993 from diabetes.
In December 1994, during the making of the documentary film Anne Frank Remembered, Miep was introduced to Peter Pfeffer, the son of Fritz Pfeffer. After his parents divorced, Pfeffer was raised by his father, until his father felt it was too dangerous for him to remain in Germany, and in 1938 was sent to London to live with his uncle. By the end of the war he had lost most of his close family, including his father and mother, who had died in Theresienstadt.
Pfeffer moved to the United States and California, where he founded a successful office supply business. Pfeffer, upon meeting Miep Gies, expressed his thanks to her for attempting to save his father's life and Miep asked him if there was anything he wanted to know about his father, expressing that he was a good man and fine dentist. Pfeffer died of cancer two months later. Miep Gies stated in her autobiography, and on her own website:
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. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.
Miep Gies lived in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland. According to Carol Ann Lee's biography of Otto Frank, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank, Gies stopped granting interviews after enduring a bout of severe ill health.
On February 15, 2009, she celebrated her 100th birthday. At the time, according to her son, Gies was in good health and followed the news every day. Gies died on January 11, 2010, following a short illness. It was reported that this was caused by a fall. Gies was portrayed in the 2007 American movie Freedom Writers.
Honors and awardsIn 1994, Gies was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the Wallenberg Medal by the University of Michigan. The following year, Gies received the Yad Vashem medal. In 1997, she was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The minor planet 99949 Miepgies is named in her honor.
Miep Gies, Protector of Anne Frank, Dies at 100 By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
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.
The British Broadcasting Corporation said Mrs. Gies suffered a fall late last month and died at a nursing home.
“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.”
Mrs. Gies sought no accolades for joining with her husband and three others in hiding Anne Frank, her father, mother and older sister and four other Dutch Jews for 25 months in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. But she came to be viewed as a courageous figure when her role in sheltering Anne Frank was revealed with the publication of her memoir. She then traveled the world while in her 80s, speaking against intolerance. The West German government presented her with its highest civilian medal in 1989, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands knighted her in 1996.
When the Gestapo raided the hiding place in the annex to Otto Frank’s business office on Aug. 4, 1944, and arrested its eight occupants, it left behind his daughter Anne’s diary and her writings on loose sheets of papers. The journals recounted life in those rooms behind a movable bookcase and the hopes of a girl on the brink of womanhood. Mrs. Gies gathered up those writings and hid them, unread, hoping that Anne would someday return to claim them.
But when Anne’s father, Otto Frank, returned to Amsterdam at the end of World War II, having been liberated from Auschwitz, he was the lone survivor of the family. Anne Frank had died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp three months before her 16th birthday. Her sister, Margot, died there at age 19 and their mother, Edith Frank, died at Auschwitz.
Mrs. Gies gave Anne’s writings to Mr. Frank, and they were first published in the Netherlands in 1947 in an abridged version. “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” has since been translated into dozens of languages in several editions, read by millions and adapted for the stage and screen, a voice representing the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.
But Mrs. Gies remained largely anonymous until an American writer, Alison Leslie Gold, persuaded her to tell her story and worked with her on “Anne Frank Remembered.”
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, being 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 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.
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.
At their apartment a short bicycle ride away, Mrs. Gies and her husband, a member of the Dutch resistance, hid an anti-Nazi university student.
When the Gestapo raided the hiding place — tipped off by someone unknown to this day — Mrs. Gies was working in the building. But one of the Nazi agents spared her from arrest, probably in light of their common Austrian heritage. Mrs. Gies later went to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam in a futile attempt to offer a bribe for the lives of the eight arrested Jews.
Mrs. Gies endured the “Hunger Winter” in the Netherlands during the war’s final months, then lived quietly in Amsterdam, a homemaker. But upon publication of her memoir, she began to travel widely as a living link to Anne Frank and spoke on the lessons of the Holocaust, often talking to schoolchildren who were reading Anne’s diary. A small woman — just a shade over 5 feet tall — whose hair had turned white, she bore a single remembrance of those days in the hiding place, a black onyx ring with a diamond in the center, worn on her left hand. It was a gift from Auguste von Pels, one of the doomed Jews she had sheltered.
Every Aug. 4, the anniversary of the raid on the annex, Miep and Jan Gies remained at their Amsterdam home. They withdrew from the world and reflected on the lost.
Mrs. Gies is survived by her son, Paul, and three grandchildren. Her husband died in 1993. The other three people who helped shelter the Frank family — Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler and Elisabeth Voskuijl — died earlier.
Otto Frank, who lived with Miep and Jan Gies for a time after the war, died in Basel, Switzerland, in 1980. The building housing the secret annex, at Prinsengracht 263, has become a museum.
In her diary entry on May 8, 1944, Anne Frank wrote how “we are never far from Miep’s thoughts.”
In her memoir, Mrs. Gies told of her emotions when she finally read the diary.
She wrote: “The emptiness in my heart was eased. So much had been lost, but now Anne’s voice would never be lost. My young friend had left a remarkable legacy to the world.
“But always, every day of my life, I’ve wished that things had been different. That even had Anne’s diary been lost to the world, Anne and the others might somehow have been saved.
“Not a day goes by that I do not grieve for them.”
Miep Gies, Anne Frank protector, dies at 100
Miep Gies, who ensured the diary of Anne Frank did not fall into the hands of Nazis after the teen's arrest, has died. She was 100.
Gies was among a team of Dutch citizens who hid the Frank family of four and four others in a secret annex in Amsterdam, Netherlands, during World War II, according to her official Web site, which announced her death Monday. She worked as a secretary for Anne Frank's father, Otto, in the front side of the same Prinsengracht building.
The family stayed in the secret room from July 1942 until August 4, 1944, when they were arrested by Gestapo and Dutch police after being betrayed by an informant. Two of Gies' team were arrested that day, but she and her friend, Bep Voskuijl, were left behind -- and found 14-year-old Anne's papers.
"And there Bep and I saw Anne's diary papers lying on the floor. I said, 'Pick them up!' Bep stood there staring, frozen. I said, 'Pick them up! Pick them up!' We were afraid, but we did out best to collect all the papers," Gies said in a 1998 interview with The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
"Then we went downstairs. And there we stood, Bep and I. I asked, 'What now, Bep?' She answered, 'You're the oldest. You hold on to them. So I did."
The girl had chronicled two years of the emotions and fears that gripped her during hiding, as well as candid thoughts on her family, her feelings for friend-in-hiding Peter van Pels, and dreams of being a professional writer. Mixed into the entries were the names of the Dutch helpers, who risked their lives to keep the family's secret.
"I didn't read Anne's diary papers. ... It's a good thing I didn't because if I had read them I would have had to burn them," she said in the 1998 interview. "Some of the information in them was dangerous."
The diary was sheltered in Gies' desk drawer and later turned over to Otto Frank when he returned after the war as the only surviving resident of the annex. Anne died at northern Germany's Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.
Her father published her diary, titled "The Secret Annex," in 1947.
Despite the legendary hardship she endured during the German occupation, Gies never embraced the label of a hero.
"More than 20,000 Dutch people helped to hide Jews and others in need of hiding during those years. I willingly did what I could to help. My husband did as well. It was not enough," she says in the prologue of her memoirs, "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family."
"There is nothing special about me. I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time."
Gies' husband, Jan, whom she married in 1941, died in 1993. The couple had a son together.