“I could anticipate the sleepless nights and the remorse I would feel later in life if I did not assist those in trouble. Remorse is far worse than any death I could have faced.” – Miep Gies
Miep met Jan Gies while they were working at a textile company in the Netherlands. She was a typist, he an accountant. They were friends first. But a few years later, after spending many nights together listening to Mozart and going to the cinema and going on bike rides on sunny days, the two settled into a relationship. On July 16th, 1941, they married.
Not long after their wedding, Otto Frank, her employer, asked Miep to help hide his family in a secret annex of the office building. The family was in danger as Jewish people were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Miep’s reply to the request was “of course.” Jan offered his help as well.
Miep and Jan cared for the Frank family and others in hiding for a couple of years. Anne, Otto’s daughter, in her diary wrote, “Miep is just like a pack mule, she fetches and carries so much. Almost every day she manages to get hold of some vegetables for us brings everything in shopping bags on her bicycle.” But in August of 1944, they were betrayed. The Gestapo raided the home, arresting all in hiding. The arresting officer spared Miep and Jan after learning that he and Miep were from the same hometown, Vienna.
The next day, Miep tried bribing the police to have everyone released but was unsuccessful. She was able to retrieve Anne’s diary, which she kept and gave to Otto after the war ended, the only member of the family and of the eight who hid in the secret annex to survive.
Reflecting, Miep said, “I don’t want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”
“Jan and Miep Gies” sources: Miep Gies – Wikipedia / Jan Gies – Wikipedia / Miep Gies, Her Own Story / Interview transcript, Miep Gies – Scholastic / Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation [NIOD], The Diary of Anne Frank: the revised critical edition (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2003), B-version, 11 July 1943. / Nationaal Archief (https://www.nationaalarchief.nl/onderzoeken/fotocollectie/acea4214-d0b4-102d-bcf8-003048976d84), no changes made to photograph / Wikimedia Commons / Echoes & Reflections – Teaching the Holocaust. Inspiring the classroom.