Anne Frank’s protector dies

Posted in Events, On writing, Writers at 9:29 am by Marion

Miep Gies preserved the famous diary of that horrible time

The news this morning opened with a reflection on a great legacy of humanity, and the lady who saved it from destruction.

Dick Coersen / EPA File

Miep Gies has died at 100 years old, after a brief illness, in Amsterdam. She was an office secretary, a modest occupation, but she was a giant in heart and bravery. Along with her husband, Jan, a resistance fighter during Nazi occupation, she shielded the Frank family, bringing Anne reading materials and keeping the family fed and safe. (Read the Associated Press article here.)

After the war, she safely delivered Anne’s diary to her father. In the years since its publication as “The Diary of Anne Frank,” it has become beloved around the world for its message of hope and tolerance.

News reports say she did not consider herself a hero; on the contrary, she said her actions should be considered normal, that we should look after each other as an ordinary action.

When Otto Frank returned to their house after the Liberation, he learned of his daughter’s death in the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen of typhus (it’s in the north of Germany).

As a personal note, I have never read the Diary of Anne Frank. I was never required to in school and have not done so on my own. It is too unbearable for me, I admit. I can’t accept that humanity allowed the Holocaust or that today, we continue to allow such destruction of human lives and souls as in Sudan.

Perhaps it is wrong of me to avoid the hardship of reading her diary, but she is in my heart just the same, a hopeful teenager who can’t understand war, violence and hatred, looking forward to a better day.


  1. Gene-o said,

    January 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Thank you for a fitting tribute to a great lady. The fact that she did not find her actions extraordinary makes her all the more extraordinary. Interesting how so many of our heroes — from Gandhi and Eunice Kennedy Shriver to HHtheDL and Miep Gies — are so unimpressed with their own impressive accomplishments. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

  2. Marion said,

    January 13, 2010 at 9:45 am

    These giants show us the humility of genuine greatness. They offer a powerful message that largeness of spirit and personality differs from ego and self-centeredness — and the more we focus on ourselves, to make ourselves large and important, the more lessen ourselves.

    That’s what so moves me about His Holiness the Dalai Lama — he considers himself “a simple Buddhist monk, nothing more.”

  3. Rocky Cole said,

    January 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Marion, a very nice post and tribute to a great soul. As the commenter above notes, the fact that she saw her acts as unremarkable makes her all the more amazing. By protecting the Frank family she and her husband risked their lives too. They could have looked away, but for them that was not an option.

    I admit the same feelings as you when I think of reading Anne’s diary. I suppose that means that I should make the effort to read it — there is something there to learn, though it may be uncomfortable.