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On this day: Miep Gies dies

January 11 2010: Anne Frank’s Holocaust heroine

    The two years during which Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic would not have been possible without the group of people who risked their lives to help.

    Miep Gies, who was 100 when she died, was also the one who made the astounding discovery of Anne’s diary.

    After the war, when she discovered Anne had died of typhus in Bergen Belsen concentration camp, she kept it safe until Anne’s father Otto could be tracked down.

    Mrs Gies went on to help Otto publish Anne’s diary, of which millions of copies in an array on languages have been sold.

    Born in Vienna, she grew up in foster acre in the Netherlands. She met Otto Frank when she took a secretarial position with him in the early 1930s, and along with her husband Jan became a close friend of the Frank family.

    When the Nazis invaded the Gies’ and their friends Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl, arranged for the Frank’s and another family to go into hiding. They spent more than two years in a secret room above the office, until the Nazis were tipped off in August 1944.

    She was honoured for her bravery around the world, receiving the highest German honour, the Federal Cross of Merit First Class. In 2009 an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter was named in her honour.

    Mrs Gies was always modest about her efforts. She once said: "This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work.”

    What the JC said in the first review of the Diary of Anne Frank: It is twenty-four hours since I finished reading the diary of Anne Frank, but the book still haunts me, and I fancy that it will do so for a long time…Heartbreaking? Yes, but inspiring. Anne writes at one point, “I want to go on living after my death!” In her diary she lives on, a representative of all that we are most proud of in our own people, a symbol of the unconquerable human spirit.

    See more from the JC archives here

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