Miep Gies (born Hermine Santrouschitz) was born in 1909 in Vienna, Austria. In December 1920, she was sent to Leiden, Holland, as part of a relief program to help malnourished children and to escape the food shortages in Austria, following World War One. She lived there with a host family, to whom she grew to love very much and who later adopted her. They gave her the name Miep, feeling Hermine was too formal. In 1922, she moved with her adopted family to Amsterdam.
Miep, her husband Jan Gies, and her family friends, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl helped hide her boss Otto Frank, his daughters Margot and Anne and some friends Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter and Fritz Pfeffer in a secret upstairs room of Opekta's office building, on Amsterdam's main channels from July 1942 to August 4, 1944. Opekta was the company ran by Otto Frank and where Miep worked. In an interview, Miep said she was glad to help the families hide because she was extremely concerned about them seeing what was happening to the Jews in Amsterdam. Every day, she saw trucks loaded with Jews heading to the railway station from where the trains left for concentration camps. Nobody, not even her own parents, knew about the people she was hiding. Miep avoided suspicion in many ways, for example by visiting several different suppliers a day and not buying everything from the same place. She kept the workers at the factory from being suspicious by trying not to enter the hiding place during office hours. She brought food from the black market and her husband also helped her by providing ration cards illegally.
Miep and the other helpers could have been executed if they had been caught hiding Jews; however, she was not arrested because the police officer who came to interrogate her was from Vienna, her birth-town. Apart from the shock and heartbreak for her friends, nothing happened to her.
After the Franks were arrested, Miep’s task continued. She climbed the attic stairs one more time to retrieve Anne’s writings, finding them scattered on the floor. Miep quickly gathered up the notebooks and kept them for Anne’s expected return after the war. When she learned of Anne’s death in Bergen-Belsen, Miep gave Otto Frank, his daughter’s notebooks. Ever since, Miep has mourned the cruel fate of her friends in the attic. “Every year on the fourth of August, I close the curtains of my home and do not answer the doorbell or the telephone,” she said. “It is the day that my Jewish friends were taken away to the death camps. I have never overcome that shock.”
Miep’s message in her Wallenberg Lecture is one of hope: “I feel strongly that we should not wait for our political leaders to make this world a better place.” Miep Gies has been honoured around the world for her moral courage. In Israel the Yad Vashem Memorial pays tribute to her as a Righteous Gentile.On January 11, 2010 Miep Gies passed away at the age of 100 in the Netherlands.

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