Haaretz Service - President Shimon Peres on Tuesday sent the Dutch queen condolences following the death of Miep Gies, the woman who helped the family of Anne Frank during World War II and preserved her diary. The Israel Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem also expressed its regret over Gies’ death in a statement saying, “we were saddened to learn this morning that Righteous among the Nations Miep Gies passed away.”
Gies, who died Monday night at the age of 100, was the last living person in the group who had helped Anne’s German Jewish family who had sought refuge from the Nazis in Holland. They lived hidden in a back house in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944.
Hours after the Franks were betrayed and seized by the Nazis on August 4, 1944, Gies crept back into the hiding place and collected Anne’s diary. In the prologue to her book, Anne Frank Remembered, Gies wrote that she was not special and not a hero.
“More that 20,000 Dutch people helped to hide Jews and others in need of hiding during those years,” she wrote. “I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time.” Anne’s diligent recording of her feelings as she became a teenager living under cover has become a document “that endures as a testimony to the human spirit in the face of unfathomable evil.” The New York Times wrote in its obituary of Gies. Millions of copies of the diary, a gift for Anne’s 13th birthday, have been published in multiple languages, and it has been converted into a play performed worldwide in schools and on professional stages.
After their seizure, the members of the Frank family were transported to the Auschwitz death camp in what is today Poland, where they were separated. Anne is believed to have died of typhoid at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in March 1945. Her sister, Margot, and mother, Edith, also died in the camps. Her father, Otto, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war and pursued the publication of Anne’s diary.
Gies was an employee of Otto Frank, who had moved his family to Holland in 1933 shortly after Adolf Hitler took power in Germany. Gies and five other employees helped keep the Franks alive along with four other people who later joined the Franks in the cramped hiding place – and who annoyed Anne, as her diary testifies.
Gies, who was born on February 15, 1909, in Vienna, wrote on her last birthday on her website: “I am 100 years old now. That is an admirable age, and I have even reached it in fairly good health. So then it’s fair to say you’ve been fortunate, and being fortunate seems to be the red thread running through my life.” She died after a short, unspecified illness, the website said.
Haaretz Service – January 1, 2010
You might like: