Protector of Anne Frank dies at 100

 

MIEP GIES, who helped hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis and saved her famous diary after the family was deported, has died just days before her 101st birthday.

Born in Vienna, Gies was brought to the Netherlands aged 11 and she befriended the Frank family after beginning work for Anne’s father, Otto, in 1933.

She was the last living member of the small group that helped hide the family in a hidden Amsterdam annex after the Nazis began rounding up Jews for deportation.

For two years, Gies and others kept the family alive with supplies, at great personal risk.

In her 1988 memoir, Gies remembered how, when she appeared in the annex in the Prinsengracht street, “a flash of enthusiasm would widen all eyes”.

“Then Anne, always Anne, would be upon me with a rapid-fire barrage of questions,” she remembered. “‘What’s going on?’ ‘What’s in the bag?’ ‘Have you heard the latest?’” Anne recorded in her diary how she and her family waited for Gies to appear with supplies “like children waiting for gifts”.

Not everyone in the family was as grateful for her efforts. Gies remembered an altercation with Otto Frank that ended with him demanding: “Make jam!” Hours after the family was discovered, on August 4th, 1944, it was Gies who returned to the hideout and hid in her desk the diary she remembered seeing Anne writing.

She said later she never read the entries, for fear she would find incriminating details about her role in hiding the Franks and would be forced to destroy it. She gave the cloth-covered diary to Otto Frank when he returned after the war; Anne and her sister died of typhoid in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

In an ironic twist, Gies was quizzed by Dutch police years after the war ended on suspicion that she was the one who denounced the family to the Nazis.

On her 100th birthday last year, Gies dismissed descriptions of her as a hero.

“It wasn’t something I planned in advance,” she said, “I simply did what I could to help.”