July 16, 1941, Miep Santrouschitz married her boyfriend, Jan Gies, a
social worker and member of the Dutch underground. Miep, Jan and three
others risked their lives daily and acted as helpers for the people in
the annex, and brought them food, supplies and news of the world outside
the darkened windows.
Miep's friendship with Anne Frank was especially strong - Anne adored
her, trusting her with her biggest secrets. When she wrote
the diary, Anne changed all the names of the people in it, to protect
them from Nazi retribution - except for Miep, whose first name remained
Miep brought her blank accounting books so Anne could continue to
scribble her thoughts after she filled the checkered diary. Miep bought
the maturing teenager her first pair of heels, secondhand red pumps, which Anne teetered
around on, biting on her lip, until she mastered them. Miep even
supplied some lavender peonies to Peter, who presented them to Anne as a
sign of his affection.
One night, Anne persuaded Miep to sleep over in the attic. Miep spent a
suffocating, sleepless night on Anne's small, hard bed. She listened to
the church clock across the garden chime at 15-minute intervals,
listened to her own heart pound. She became aware of what it meant to be
imprisoned in those small rooms and felt a taste of the helpless fear
these people were forced to endure day and night.
It all ended on August 4, 1944, when their hiding place was betrayed.
Miep Gies hid the precious diary, keeping it for a year until official
word arrived that Anne was dead. On that dreadful day, she reached into
her desk drawer, removed the sheaves of paper, and handed them to a
shattered Otto Frank.
'Here,' she told him, 'is your daughter Anne's legacy to you.'
Otto Frank lived with Miep and Jan Gies for seven years. He died in
Miep Gies didn't just help the eight people in the annex. She and Jan
Gies hid a young Jewish student in their apartment. Miep never told Otto
Frank about that.
Today, more than fifty years later, Miep Gies has spoken all over the
United States and Europe on behalf of the Anne Frank Center, an
international organization dedicated to tolerance. She lives alone in
Amsterdam. Her husband, Jan, died in January 1993, 87 years old. He was
honored after the war for his work in the resistance, receiving the Yad
Vashem medal in Israel in 1977.
In 1987, Jan and Miep Gies were honored with an
award from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith for their courage
in a ceremony that remembered not only the victims of the Holocaust, but
those who risked everything to try to save them. A few years later West Germany
awarded its highest medal for civilians, The Federal Cross Of Merit
First Class, to Miep Gies because of her crucial role in hiding Anne
Frank and her family: "In spite of her experiences with Germans,
she has eliminated the word hate from her vocabulary," the
West German Embassy said.
In 1994 she received
the Raoul Wallenberg Award for Bravery, in May that same year, she
received The Righteous Amongst the Nations Award - along with Emilie
Schindler - and in 1997 she was knighted by Queen regnant Beatrix of
Her book Anne Frank Remembered was turned into a film that won an
Academy Award for best documentary.
long ago Miep Gies told about her friends hiding in the Annex:
have no word to describe these people who were still always friendly and
grateful. Yes, I do have a word, Heroes. True heroes they were.
People sometimes call me a hero. I don't like it .. I myself, I'm just a
very common person. I simply had no choice. I could not save Anne's
However, I did save her diary and by that I could help her most
important dreams to come true. She tells us that she wants to live on
after her death. Now, her diary makes her really living on in a most
powerful way. And that helps me in those many hours of deep grief.
has happened that people walk up to me and ask me what I would answer to
those who deny that the Holocaust even took place. My response is that
on August 4, 1944, at 9'oclock in the morning I did meet a healthy and
strong 15-year old girl, Anne Frank. The next thing I saw was her name
in a German list of people on a cattle train to Auschwitz.
So please, tell me where Anne Frank lives at this moment if the
Holocaust did not take place, because Anne Frank would still be with us