Monday 20 November 2017

Woman who helped hide Anne Frank's family dies

Arthur Max in Amsterdam

Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager's diary, has died.

Ms Gies died from a neck injury sustained in a fall at her home shortly before Christmas, Anne Frank Museum spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker said.

Ms Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid for 25 months during World War Two.

After the apartment was raided by the German police, Ms Gies gathered up Anne's scattered notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war.

The diary, which Anne was given on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life in hiding from June 12, 1942, until August 1, 1944.

Anne died of typhus at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, just two weeks before the camp was liberated.

Ms Gies gave the diary to Anne's father, Otto, the only survivor, who then published it in 1947.

After the diary was published, Ms Gies tirelessly promoted causes of tolerance. She brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved -- as if, she said, she had tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland.

"This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work," she was quoted as saying just days before her 100th birthday last February.

For her courage, Ms Gies was bestowed with the 'Righteous Gentile' title by the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem.

She was also honoured by the German government, Dutch monarchy and educational institutions.

'The Diary of Anne Frank' was the first popular book about the Holocaust, and has been read by millions of children and adults around the world in 70 languages.

Irish Independent

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