In case you missed it, Miep Gies has died at the age of 100 on January 11 in Hoorn, The Netherlands; she was born in 1909 in Vienna as Hermine Santrouschitz before moving to Amsterdam in the early 1920s and marrying Jan Gies in 1941.
Miep Gies helped hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis for two years in a secret annex in Amsterdam. She also saved Anne’s diaries from destruction, allowing the world a glimpse into the day-to-day realities of Jews during World War II. Of the numerous people who helped the Frank family avoid deportation for two years from July 1942 to August 1944, Miep Gies was the last one still alive.
Despite the heroic efforts of Gies and the others, a tip off by persons unknown allowed the Nazis to raid the Frank’s hiding place on the morning of Aug. 4, 1944 and deport its residents to Auschwitz. Anne Frank, spared immediate death in the Auschwitz gas chambers, died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen camp just weeks before the end of World War II. She was only 15. Miep Gies recovered Anne’s dairies after the raid and gave them to Otto Frank – Anne’s father and the only member of the Frank family to survive the war — upon his return and he published them in 1947.
Of all the European countries, the Netherlands – together with Poland and Greece – fared the worst as a result of the Holocaust in terms of a decline in their Jewish populations. The Netherlands lost 75% of its Jewish population, with the Nazis deporting more than 105,000 people primarily to Auschwitz en Sobibor between 1940 and 1945, leaving roughly 35,000 Jewish survivors between those who remained hidden during the war and those who managed to find their way back from the death camps after 1945.
I have never read Anne Frank’s Diaries – but one day I will summon up the courage for it. Currently, I am emotionally not robust enough to read them in the context of a time not all that long ago, dominated by those who thought that she should be hunted down and exterminated because for what she was. And what else could a 15 year old young girl be? Nothing more and nothing less – capable of innocent hopes and dreams only. Someone’s sweet daughter – she could have been yours or mine.