Miep Gies died on 11th January 2010 at the age of 100 and I didn’t even know she was alive all those years. Just a couple of weeks before her demise, I had watched her documentary that might have been made in 1998-99 and in that she looked fairly old but active. I thought almost ten-eleven years have been elapsed so she may not be alive. I didn’t bother to search any article about her to confirm that. Then on 11th January I got the news about her death which was sort of shocking.
Miep Gies holds the position of a heroine for hiding and helping the Jewish family when doing so was a punishable crime in those times. She had saved the Jewish family from Nazis in Holland in 1940s during the WW2 with the help of her husband and colleagues Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman and Bep Voskuijl. The Frank family had gone into hiding thinking that the war would soon be over and they would be able to begin their normal lives in the Dutch society like before the invasion of Nazis. But Britain and America took too long in liberating Holland and other countries. The Frank family remained in hiding for from July 1942 to August 4, 1944.
The names of Miep Gies and Anne Frank, the youngest daughter of Otto Frank, always come together for two reasons. First, twelve years old Anne was quite close and friendly with Miep. Second, when the unfortunate family had been arrested on August 4, 1944 and was deported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, it was Miep who had found Anne’s diary and lots of pages strewn in the annex. She collected all those, knowing Anne was very fond of writing and once the family was back she’d return it to Anne. The sole survivor from the Frank family was Anne’s father Otto Frank. When there was no hope left of the rest of the family member’s survival, Miep returned the diary and several other unbound pages to Anne’s father. Later on he published his daughter’s diary. The diary sold like hot cakes and was translated in several languages over the period of time. The hiding place of the Frank family was turned into Anne Frank museum. She became popular after her death through her diary. There are several movies and documentaries about Anne’s life and diary. That’s why it is usually said that Anne was the best known victim of Hitler.
In recognition of her efforts to save the Frank family and others staying with them in the secret annex, Miep was awarded with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1994; in 1995, she received the Yad Vashem medal, and in 1997, she was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Miep Gies stated on her own website:
I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more – much more – during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.
She died on 11th January 2010 following a short illness apparently caused by a fall.
R.I.P Miep Gies – [ 15th Feburary 1909 – 11th January 2010]
According to Wikipedia there is a minor planet discovered on March 16th 2007 named after Miep Gies called 99949 Miepgies.