“I Have Never Read the Diary“

Die Presse (02/16/2009)

by Helmut Hetzel

Anne Frank. Native Viennese, who saved the young girl from the Nazis, is 100 years old.

Den Haag. “I am now 100 years old. Still in relatively good health, that’s an impressive age which I’ve been lucky enough to live to see. In retrospect, I can safely say that luck was the recurrent theme running throughout my life.”

Those are the words coming from Miep Gies, friend and ally of Anne frank, who celebrated yesterday her 100th birthday. Gies, together with other Dutch friends, helped to conceal Frank for four years in the hiding place behind her house in Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam and brought her and her family and other friends food and drink.

All went well until ‘Anne Frank and the other Jews that had gone into hiding were denounced shortly before the end of WW II and deported to a NS concentration camp. It was there, in Bergen Belsen, that Anne Frank died in April, 1945, shortly before its liberation. Her diary, however, which she wrote in the hiding place in Amsterdam, lives on to this day. It made Anne Frank immortal.

It was Miep Gies who kept the manuscript, “Diary of Anne Frank,” until the end of the war and gave it Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, the only one of the Frank family that survived the Holocaust. Nonetheless, the 100 year-old Gies says today: “ I am not a hero; I only did it for my friend, Anne.”

Hidden in a Building Behind the House

Miep Gies-Santruschitz, her official first name is Hermine, was born February 15, 1909, in Vienna. She came to Holland as an eleven-year-old child in 1920, where she was taken in by the von Laurens Nieuwenburg family. After 1933, she worked as a secretary for Anne Frank’s father, Otto, in his firm, “Opekta.”

Because the persecution of the Jews in Holland, occupied by Nazi Germany in 1942, became worse, Otto Frank asked his secretary to help him and his family. Gies found a suitable address where the family could go into hiding together with other friends.