” I am not a hero, People sometimes call me a hero, I don’t like it.  Because people should never think that you have to be a very special person to help those who need you.  I myself am just a fairly common person.  I simply had no choice.  I could foresee many, many sleepless nights, and a life filled with regret if I would refuse to help the Franks, and this was not the kind of life I was looking forward to.” From a speech in California in 1996

The Frank Family

Miep Gies died today, she was one hundred years old.  A remarkable woman, she was sent from her native Austria to Holland as a  young girl, and grew to be an attractive and capable woman.  Gainfully employed by a successful businessman named Otto Frank as a secretary in his spice company, her early twenties gave no hint at the drama that was to enfold in the context of the war ahead.  Events and circumstances that would prove to be the defining events of her life.

Miep Gies  became  far more than a secretary to Otto Frank. When the Germans occupied Holland Miep was faced with a decision, would she enable the Franks (and four others) to hide in the annex behind the office, keep their secret and look after them while they hid from the Nazis?  It never ocurred to her not to do it.

When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands there were some 140,00 Jews living there, of those 107,000 were “deported,” and approximately 5,200 of them survived.  Remaining behind were about 24,000 who went into hiding, and of those some 8,000 were hunted down or turned in.

Miep Then

More Recently

During the occupation she took risks on a daily basis that would have resulted in her death.  She was not alone, her husband Jan and three others all worked together to hide Ottoa and Edith Frank, their daughters Anne and Margot, Herman Van Daan and his wife Petronella, son Peter and an elderly dentist Albert Dussel.  All of them risked death on a daily basis providing them with the necessities of life.

After nearly two long years they were betrayed.  The mystery of who tipped off the Germans has never been solved.  Desperate to save them, Miep made a last ditch effort to bribe them out of custody, but she was unsuccessful, they had already been shipped off to concentration camps. Returning to the empty annex she found Anne’s papers strewn all over the floor.  She gathered them up and hid them, hoping that someday she would be able to return them to Anne.  She never read them, feeling that would be an invasion of privacy.  Later she was  grateful that she had not looked at them, because if she had she would have been forced to burn them. If the diary had fallen into the wrong hands, she and others would have been revealed as members of the resistance and likely executed.

After the war when Otto Frank, the lone survivor, returned to Holland Miep turned Anne’s papers over to him, still unable to bring herself to read them.  Otto Frank lived with her and her husband Jan for some seven years, during which time Miep helped him prepare the diary for publication.  When finally she came to read the diary she was overwhelmed with gratitude for its existence, her friends lived on, they were alive once more through the writings of the enchanting Anne.  She realized that the words of Anne would serve to be a voice of hope and testimony to the world.

Miep received many honors from the Jewish community after the war, notably the “Righteous Gentile” title by Israeli Holocause Museum Yad Vashem.   She spoke to groups all over the world, dedicating herself to fighting intolerance and bigotry, and ceaselessly continued to answer the large amount of correspondence she received, particularly from children, until just before her death.  In 1987 she published a book of her own, Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family.

For more than fifty years after the war Miep would shut her curtains on the fourth of August and spoke to no one.  It was that day in 1944 that she last saw Anne Frank.

“It was the day that my Jewish friends were taken away to the death camps,” Gies said. “I have never overcome that shock. Why did these wonderful people meet such a cruel fate?”  

Prinsengracht 263, the Hiding Place

Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio conducted an interview with Miep in 1998.  It aired in August,  on the anniversary of the date that the Franks were taken by the Nazis.

The interview is in two parts.

Part One


Part Two


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God Speed Miep Gies