Tributes for Miep Gies, Anne Frank's 'helper'

By Jessica Elgot, January 12, 2010
Miep Gies attends a tree planting ceremony in honour of her and husband Jan at Yad Vashem

Miep Gies attends a tree planting ceremony in honour of her and husband Jan at Yad Vashem

Tributes have been paid to Miep Gies, the helper of Anne Frank's family, who has died aged 100.

Israeli president Shimon Peres wrote a letter to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to express his admiration for Ms Gies.

In the letter he wrote: "I bow my head in mourning and deep respect for Miep Gies.

"She has won the hearts of all of us for her heroic efforts to save Anne Frank and her family, and for recovering Anne's diary. This enabled the world at large to identify with the dreams and hopes of a young girl, whose life was tragically truncated by the Nazis, but whose spirit lived on forever.

"Miep's selfless humanitarian deed inspires us to continue believing in the goodness and integrity of human beings in the face of unfathomable evil and is an example to emulate. She has a special place in our hearts and we will remember her always. May she rest in peace."

Holocaust and Anne Frank charities in the UK and worldwide also paid tribute to Mrs Gies.

Gillian Walnes MBE, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Anne Frank Trust UK said: “I was privileged to have met Miep on several occasions in the 1990s both at the Anne Frank House and when she came to Anne Frank Trust events in London.

"In conversations we had, she never saw herself as heroic, simply doing what she saw as her duty to help other human beings.

"As well as looking after all 8 people in hiding above Otto Frank’s office, Miep and her equally heroic husband Jan Gies were also hiding - in their own home - a young Dutch man who had refused to join the Nazi party.

"Can you even begin to imagine the pressure she was under in acquiring food for all those people for more than two years without arousing suspicions?

"When the Frank family were arrested in August 1944 Miep broke the lock and rescued Anne’s diary, not for publication but to give back to Anne, in the hope she may survive the camps. She also bravely went to Gestapo HQ to try to buy the Frank family’s freedom, but sadly this was not possible.

"I was lucky enough to visit Miep in her home once and she showed me items that Anne had actually written about in her diary. One particular memory I will always treasure is attending the 1996 Oscar ceremony in Hollywood for the documentary feature “Anne Frank Remembered” (coincidentally shown on BBC on Tuesday evening the night of Miep’s death).

Miep Gies at 100 at the Anne Frank house, Amsterdam

Miep Gies at 100 at the Anne Frank house, Amsterdam

"Travelling down in the limousine to the ceremony and seeing the iconic Hollywood sign I leaned forward to Miep and, knowing how much Anne Frank had loved movie stars, asked her, “What would Anne have said if she knew you were in Hollywood?” Miep simply sighed and shook her head.

"Last year the Anne Frank Trust dedicated an Anne Frank Award in Miep’s honour which was presented at the House of Commons to a remarkable Kent teenager Nicole Dryburgh. The Anne Frank Trust will ensure that Miep Gies’s story will continue to be an inspirational force for good.”

The Anne Frank Foundation said in a statement: "Right until the end, Miep remained deeply involved with the remembrance of Anne Frank and spreading the message of her story.

"Everyday she received letters from all over the world with questions about her relationship with Anne Frank and her role as a helper."

A spokeswoman for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jersalem, said: "We were saddened to learn this morning that Righteous Among the Nations Miep Gies has passed away."

Last updated: 4:38pm, January 14 2010