The Roman Catholic Dutchwoman Who Hid Anne Frank and Family
"Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be," Anne wrote about Miep Gies and her associates.
BY BENJAMIN GLATT
11 JANUARY 2017 10:12
"I am not a hero," Miep Gies wrote in the first sentence of her prologue in a book she co-authored about her experiences hiding Anne Frank and her family. While this is an enormous understatement for the Roman Catholic Dutchwoman, the root of her actions during the Holocaust may be traced back to the atmosphere of kind actions that surrounded her in life. The first time Gies was witness to the exceptional power of kindness was as a young child. As a member of a working-class family in Vienna during and after the First World War, Gies (then known as Hermine Santruschitz) and her family didn’t have enough food to eat.
In 1920, she was offered to leave Austria for the Netherlands, by virtue of a Dutch workers’ association aid program to help malnourished children in the aftermath of the war. In December 1920, she arrived at Leiden, being taken in by a Christian working family.
“Kindness, in my depleted condition, was very important to me,” she wrote in “Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family.” “It was medicine as much as the bread, the marmalade, the good Dutch milk and butter an cheese, the toasty temperature of the warm rooms.”
One act of kindness led to another. Dues to Gies’s poor physical condition, she ended up staying in the Netherlands past the date the workers association had told her foster family. But with their and her parents’ permission, she would stay with her foster family in the Netherlands until she would become an adult.