Miep Gies

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Miep Gies
Miep Gies (1987).jpg
Miep Gies (1987)
Born Hermine Santruschitz
15 February 1909
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died 11 January 2010(2010-01-11) (aged 100)
Hoorn, North Holland, Netherlands
Known for Hiding Jews such as Anne Frank and family from the Nazis
Religion Roman Catholic[1][2]
Spouse(s) Jan Gies (1905–1993)
(1941–1993; his death)
Children Paul Gies (born 1950)
Website
http://www.miepgies.com

Hermine Santruschitz (15 February 1909 – 11 January 2010), better known as Miep Gies (Dutch pronunciation: [mip xis]), was one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews from the Nazis in an annex above Anne's father's business premises during World War II. She was Austrian by birth, but in 1920, at the age of only eleven, Miep was taken in as a foster child by a Dutch family to whom she became very attached. Although she was initially only to stay for six months, this stay was extended to one year because of frail health, after which she chose to remain with them, living the rest of her life in the Netherlands. In 1933 she began working for Otto Frank, a businessman who had moved with his family from Germany to the Netherlands in hopes of sparing his family Nazi persecution because they were Jewish. Miep became a close, trusted friend of the family and was a great support to them during the two years they spent in hiding. She retrieved Anne Frank's diary after the family was arrested and kept the papers safe until Otto Frank returned from Auschwitz in 1945, and learned of his younger daughter's death.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Together with Alison Leslie Gold Miep authored the book Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family, first published in 1987.

Early life[edit]

Miep Gies and Egon Krenz in 1989

Born Hermine Santruschitz in Vienna, (later spelled as Santrouschitz in the Netherlands), she was transported to Leiden from Vienna in December 1920 to escape the food shortages prevailing in Austria after World War I. The Nieuwenburg family took her as their foster daughter, and called her by the diminutive "Miep" by which she became known. In 1922, she moved with her foster family to Gaaspstraat 25 [10] in Amsterdam. As 1933 came, Miep became unemployed as the textile factory she worked for went out of business. The Nieuwenburg family lived several floors above an old woman, Mrs Blik, who occassionally had coffee with her adoptive mother. She was a travelling saleswoman. Every Saturday Mrs Blik would return with an empty case and report to the firm that had employed her in order to refill her demonstration kit. One Saturday in April 1933, one of her steady firms of employment were looking for a temporary secretary as the secretary had been off ill. That afternoon, right off the tram, she came to the Nieuwenburg apartment and gave a Miep a piece of paper with the words, "First thing, Monday morning". The paper read: 'Opekta, 120-126 N.Z. Voorburgwal". Bright & early the Monday morning, she cycled to N.Z. Voorburgwal [10] and met Otto Frank when she applied for the post of temporary secretary with the Dutch branch of the German firm Opekta. Otto Frank had just relocated from Germany and had been appointed Managing Director of their Dutch operations. The company, with head offices in Cologne, Germany, sold a pectin preparation used for making jams and jellies, and had recently expanded to the Netherlands. She initially ran the complaints and information desk in Opekta, and was eventually promoted to a more general administrative role. She became a close friend of the Frank family, as did Jan Gies, her long-time fiancé. After refusing to join a Nazi women's association, her passport was invalidated and she was ordered to be deported within ninety days back to Austria (by then annexed by Germany, and by default she was now classified as a German citizen and had been forced to accept a German Passport). The couple were married as quickly as possible on 16 July 1941 so that she could obtain Dutch citizenship, and thus evade deportation. Her fluency in Dutch and German helped the Frank family assimilate into Dutch society, and she and her husband became regular guests at the Franks' home. They were the Franks' greatest friends until Otto Frank's death. Miep & Jan rented a room at 25 Hunzestraat from Mrs. Stoppelman, it was round the corner from the Merwedeplein. This was 1941.[10]

Hiding the families[edit]

With her husband Jan Gies, and the other Opekta employees, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl, Miep Gies helped hide Otto and Edith Frank, their daughters Margot and Anne, Hermann and his wife Auguste van Pels, their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer in several upstairs rooms in the company's office building on Amsterdam's Prinsengracht from July 6, 1942 to August 4, 1944.[11] In an interview, Miep said she was glad to help the families hide because she was extremely concerned about them seeing what was happening to the Jews in Amsterdam. Every day, she saw trucks loaded with Jews heading to the railway station from where the trains left for concentration camps. She did not tell anyone, not even her own foster parents, about the people in hiding whom she was assisting.

When purchasing food for the people in hiding, Miep avoided suspicion in many ways, for example by visiting several different suppliers a day. She never carried more than what one shopping bag could hold or what she could hide under her coat. She kept the workers at Opekta from being suspicious by trying not to enter the hiding place during office hours. Her husband also helped her by providing ration cards which he had obtained illegally. By visiting several grocery shops and markets a day, Miep developed a good feeling for the supply situation.

At their apartment, a short bicycle ride away from the secret annex, Miep and her husband (who belonged to the Dutch resistance), also hid an anti-Nazi university student.[12]

The capture[edit]

On the morning of 4 August 1944, sitting at her desk, Miep looked up and saw a man pointing a gun towards Anne and her sister and said, "Sit down! Don't even flinch!"[citation needed] The families had been betrayed and the Grüne Polizei arrested the people hidden at 263 Prinsengracht, as well as Mr. Kugler and Johannes Kleiman. The next day, Miep went to the German police office to try to find them. She offered money to buy their freedom, but did not succeed. Miep and the other helpers could have been executed if they had been caught hiding Jews; however, she was not arrested because the police officer who came to interrogate her was from Vienna, her birth town.[citation needed] Apart from the shock and heartbreak for her friends, Miep remained safe with Jan in Amsterdam throughout the rest of the war.

Before the hiding place was emptied by the authorities, Miep retrieved Anne Frank's diaries and saved them in her desk drawer. Once the war was over and it was confirmed that Anne Frank had perished in Bergen-Belsen, Gies gave the collection of papers and notebooks to the sole survivor from the Secret Annex, Otto Frank.[8] After transcribing sections for his family, his daughter's literary ability became apparent and he arranged for the book's publication in 1947. Gies did not read the diaries before turning them over to Otto, and later remarked that if she had she would have had to destroy them because the diary contained the names of all five of the helpers as well as their black market suppliers. She was persuaded by Otto Frank to read it in its second printing.[9] As 1947 came, she & Jan moved to Jekerstraat 65, by the Merwedeplein. Otto Frank moved with them.[10]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 1994, Gies was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the Wallenberg Medal by the University of Michigan. The following year, Gies received the Yad Vashem medal. In 1997, she was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The minor planet 99949 Miepgies is named in her honor.[13]

On 30 July 2009, the Austrian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Wolfgang Paul presented Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria to Gies at her home.[14]

Death[edit]

On 11 January 2010, at the age of 100, Miep Gies died due to complications from a fall in a nursing home while in Hoorn, a town 45 kilometres (28 mi) northeast of Amsterdam.[15] She outlived her husband, Jan Gies, by 17 years, and was survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Paul & Lucie Gies, and three grandchildren, Erwin, Jeanine, and David.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Miep Gies: Moving to Holland". Scholastic. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  2. ^ Menachem Z. Rosensaft (January 12, 2010). "Sainthood for Miep Gies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  3. ^ Obituary Los Angeles Times, 12 January 2010.
  4. ^ Obituary Washington Post, 12 January 2010.
  5. ^ Obituary The Times, 13 January 2010.
  6. ^ Obituary London Guardian, 13 January 2010.
  7. ^ Obituary London Independent, 14 January 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Anne Frank guardian reaches 100". BBC News. 15 February 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Carolyn Kellogg (17 February 2009). "Miep Gies, Anne Frank's custodian, turns 100". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ a b c d Anne Frank Remembered Book, 2010
  11. ^ María Mercedes Romagnoli "The guardians of Holland" The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
  12. ^ Goldstein, Richard (11 January 2010). "Miep Gies, Protector of Anne Frank, Dies at 100". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ JPL Small-Body Database.
  14. ^ "Grand Decoration of Honour for Services". Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Anne Frank diary guardian Miep Gies dies aged 100". BBC News. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 

External links[edit]