A ‘Righteous Gentile’ Who Helped Anne Frank Dies At 100

“I answered, ‘Yes, of course.’ It seemed perfectly natural to me. I could help these people. They were powerless, they didn’t know where to turn,” she said years later.

This story brought tears to my eyes.

Miep Gies, who along with so many others (and yet not nearly enough) did so much at such great risk, pooh-poohed her incredible heroism.

On that alone, I disagree with her.  What a hero!  This little secretary was as brave as any Navy SEAL.  And may God and all His holy angels rejoice over her today.

By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press Writer Arthur Max, Associated Press Writer

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager’s diary not, has died, the Anne Frank Museum said Tuesday. She was 100.

Gies’ Web site reported that she died Monday after a brief illness. The report was confirmed by museum spokeswoman Maatje Mostar, but she gave no details. The British Broadcasting Corp. said she died in a nursing home after suffering a fall last month.

Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid for 25 months during World War II.

After the apartment was raided by the German police, Gies gathered up Anne’s scattered notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war. The diary, which Anne Frank was given on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life in hiding from June 12, 1942 until August 1, 1944.

Gies refused to read the papers, saying even a teenager’s privacy was sacred. Later, she said if she had read them she would have had to burn them because they incriminated the “helpers.”

Anne Frank died of typhus at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, just two weeks before the camp was liberated. Gies gave the diary to Anne’s father Otto, the only survivor, who published it in 1947.

After the diary was published, Gies tirelessly promoted causes of tolerance. She brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved — as if, she said, she had tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland.

“This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday last February.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” was the first popular book about the Holocaust, and has been read by millions of children and adults around the world in some 65 languages.

For her courage, Gies was bestowed with the “Righteous Gentile” title by the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. She has also been honored by the German Government, Dutch monarchy and educational institutions.

Nevertheless, Gies resisted being made a character study of heroism for the young.

“I don’t want to be considered a hero,” she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.

“Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”

Born Hermine Santrouschitz on Feb. 15, 1909 in Vienna, Gies moved to Amsterdam in 1922 to escape food shortages in Austria. She lived with a host family who gave her the nickname Miep.

In 1933, Gies took a job as an office assistant in the spice business of Otto Frank. After refusing to join a Nazi organization in 1941, she avoided deportation to Austria by marrying her Dutch boyfriend, Jan Gies.

As the Nazis ramped up their arrests and deportations of Dutch Jews, Otto Frank asked Gies in July 1942 to help hide his family in the annex above the company’s canal-side warehouse on Prinsengracht 263 and to bring them food and supplies.

“I answered, ‘Yes, of course.’ It seemed perfectly natural to me. I could help these people. They were powerless, they didn’t know where to turn,” she said years later.

Jan and Miep Gies worked with four other employees in the firm to sustain the Franks and four other Jews sharing the annex. Jan secured extra food ration cards from the underground resistance. Miep cycled around the city, alternating grocers to ward off suspicions from this highly dangerous activity.

In her e-mail to the AP last February, Gies remembered her husband, who died in 1993, as one of Holland’s unsung war heroes. “He was a resistance man who said nothing but did a lot. During the war he refused to say anything about his work, only that he might not come back one night. People like him existed in thousands but were never heard,” she wrote.

Touched by Anne’s precocious intelligence and loneliness, Miep also brought Anne books and newspapers while remembering everybody’s birthdays and special days with gifts.

“It seems as if we are never far from Miep’s thoughts,” Anne wrote.

In her own book, “Anne Frank Remembered,” Gies recalled being in the office when the German police, acting on a tip that historians have failed to trace, raided the hide-out in August 1944.

A policeman opened the door to the main office and pointed a revolver at the three employees, telling them to sit quietly. “Bep, we’ve had it,” Gies whispered to Bep Voskuijl.

After the arrests, she went to the police station to offer a bribe for the Franks’ release, but it was too late. On Aug. 8, they were sent to Westerbork, a concentration camp in eastern Holland from where they were later packed into cattle cars and deported to Auschwitz. A few months later, Anne and her sister Margot were transported to Bergen-Belsen.

Two of the helpers, Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, were sent to labor camps, but survived the war.

Around 140,000 Jews lived in the Netherlands before the 1940-45 Nazi occupation. Of those, 107,000 were deported to Germany and only 5,200 survived. Some 24,000 Jews went into hiding, of which 8,000 were hunted down or turned in.

After the war, Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam and lived with the Gies family until he remarried in 1952. Miep worked for him as he compiled the diary, then devoted herself to talking about the diary and answering piles of letters with questions from around the world.

After Otto Frank’s death in 1980, Gies continued to campaign against Holocaust-deniers and to refute allegations that the diary was a forgery.

She suffered a stroke in 1997 which slightly affected her speech, but she remained generally in good health as she approached her 100th birthday.

Her son Paul Gies said last year she was still receiving “a sizable amount of mail” which she handled with the help of a family friend. She spent her days at the apartment where she lived since 2000 reading two daily newspapers and following television news and talk shows.

Her husband died in 1993. She is survived by her son and three grandchildren.

Will I be so brave, Lord, if the madness begins again (as I believe it will)?

I could have no greater hope for myself than that I will.

Thank you for your wonderful example, Mrs. Gies.

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8 Responses to “A ‘Righteous Gentile’ Who Helped Anne Frank Dies At 100”

  1. HL Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this powerful account.

    She is a wonderful example.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Just imagine these people taking in these persecuted Jews at such risks to themselves. Having to obtain bogus food ration cards (and the liberals will have us using them as well in the coming days, ostensibly to help Americans watch their weight – you wait and see!), and then having to go to such extreme lengths shopping at several stores so that they could conceal the amount of food they were buying. And all the time knowing they would probably be sent to a death camp if they were caught.

    Remarkable.

  3. HL Says:

    I pray we will be faithful to the Truth and courageous in doing right, now and in the days ahead.

  4. J.W. Wartick Says:

    What an amazing story! Thanks for, as always, bringing stuff like this to my knowledge!

  5. Michael Eden Says:

    I have thought about it a great deal. Long before I started becoming politically active I was spiritually active. And I realized that one day I would probably be in jail.

    Not for stealing or for hurting somebody; but for taking a biblical stand on one of a number of issues that the Bible takes a clear stand on.

    Today, I’m more aware than ever that one day “the state” will come knocking on my door to haul me away for my ideas.

    I’m far from a perfect person. There are things I do that I shouldn’t, and things I don’t do that I should. And I know that not all of my opinions are right.

    That said, there are many things that I know to be true. The question is, do I – will I – have the courage to stand when most other similarly imperfect people bow down?

    That’s why we need to pray that eloquent and powerful prayer that you provided.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    I was amazed to find it on the AP.

    With some shame, I confess that – apart from having read the Diary of Anne Frank – I had never followed the career of this amazing woman. And yet boy did her life mean something.

  7. Kathy Tucker Says:

    What this brave lady said “she did not want to be known as a hero for choosing to do what should be normal ” was a wonderful statement.
    I have taught many children about the holocaust and when ask the question since all of these people or most of these people are dead which would you have rather been, the rightous who died helping the jews, or the nazis who perhaps lived a little longer? always the rightous who helped the jews!

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    Good words indeed, Kathy. Your children are lucky to have you as their mother.

    I wear a Star of David – made from nails (i.e. the nails of a cross).

    But whether it is because I will publicly identify myself with the Jews, or whether it is because I publicly identify myself as a conservative evangelical Christian, if they come to take away such people, I hope they come to take me FIRST.

    I would rather take a strong and courageous stand before the persecution, and then be in the very first group “they” (whoever “they” turns out to be) come after, than to have to choose to finally show some courage after they’ve already started hauling people away.

    I will never stop saying it: I am a Christian who passionately believes God is a God who keeps ALL His promises. And He will keep His promises to His people the Jews (I believe just as passionately that He will fulfill them through the Messiah who was crucified as “the King of the Jews”).

    The Jews continue to be “the apple of God’s eye.”

    There’s a famous line (actually said in history) from the movie “300.” The hero says about handing over his weapons, “Come and take them.”

    I would say, “Come and take me.” And make sure to take me first.

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