By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The woman who hid Anne Frank and her family during the Nazi occupation of Holland, and hid the famous diary detailing the experience, has died at the age of 100.
According to a spokesperson for the Anne Frank House museum, Miep Gies, an office secretary who managed to hide the Frank family for two years, died from a neck injury she sustained in a fall shortly before Christmas.
Mrs. Gies was famous for brushing aside all accolades for helping the family to hide from June 12, 1942 until August 1, 1944.
“This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday last February.
In addition to hiding the Frank family, Geis also hid the famous diary that was given to Anne Frank on her 13th birthday that she used to chronicle her life in hiding. After the German police captured the family, Mrs. Geis gathered up Anne’s notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer. She refused to read the papers, saying that even a teenager’s privacy was sacred.
“The Diary of Anne Frank,” published in more than 70 languages, has been read by millions of children and adults around the world.
After their publication, Mrs. Geis admitted it was a good thing she never read the diary because Anne had named so many Dutch helpers in the book. “ . . . (I)f I had read them I would have had to burn them,” she said in a 1998 interview. “Some of the information in them was dangerous.”
Mrs. Gies received many honors for her courage, such as receiving the “Righteous Gentile” title by the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. She has also been honored by the German Government, Dutch monarchy and educational institutions.
But she has always resisted being called a hero.
“I don’t want to be considered a hero,” she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.
“Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”
Mrs. Geis is survived by a son and three grandchildren.
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