Anne Frank remembered: The story of the woman who helped to hide the Frank family | Sunday Observer

Anne Frank remembered: The story of the woman who helped to hide the Frank family

Authors – Miep Gies, Alison Leslie Gold

Publisher – Simon & Schuster

We all know about Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who perished at a concentration camp, Bergen –Belsen, as a teenager of sixteen years.. She became famous after her war time diary, the Diary of a Young Girl, which describes the life in the secret annex she, her family and others hid for more than two years. was published. However, after the diary was published, originally as Het Achterhuis (The Annex) in Dutch in 1947, all the people who read it, were curious about the ones who betrayed the annex people as well as how the diary was saved. Though the real culprits of this betrayal has not been yet revealed, the one who saved the diary is known. It was Miep Gies who helped Frank family to hide in the secret annex. So, ‘Anne Frank Remembered’ is her own story under Nazi Fascism in the land of the Dutch. Miep collaborated with Alison Leslie Gold, an American biographer to accomplish this book project.

The book starts with a mesmerising prologue written by Miep Gies:

“I am not a hero. I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more – during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.”

Then we find the firstpart of the three part book, which is named as In Hiding. It starts with the first chapter like this:

“In 1933 I lived with my adoptive parents, the Nieuwenhuises, at Gaaspstraat 25, sharing a small, cozy attic room with my adoptive sister, Catherina. Our quarter was a quiet area of South Amsterdam known as the River Quarter because the streets were named after Dutch and other European rivers whose lower courses flowed through the Netherlands to the sea, like the Rhine, the Maas, the Jeker. In fact, the Amstel flowed practically into our own backyards.”

The book captivates the reader at the very beginning. The late Issac Bashevis Singer, a well–known Jewish writer writes about it as, “Beautifully written by a person who really cares for other human beings. Her simple style hypnotizes the reader.”

Blurb of the cover page also sums up the book:

“For the millions moved by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, here at last is Miep Geis’s own astonishing story. For more than two years, Miep Gies and her husband helped hide the Franks from the Nazis. Like thousands of unsung heroes of the Holocaust, they risked their lives each day to bring food, news, and emotional support to the victims. “From her own remarkable childhood as a World War I refugee to the moment she places a small, red-orange, checkered diary - Anne’s legacy - in Otto Frank’s hands, Miep Gies remembers her days with simple honesty and shattering clarity. Each page rings with courage and heartbreaking beauty.” So, this is a book every reader, especially interested in War time diaries as well as Holocaust literature should read. The extraordinary quality of this book is that it is written beautifully written and is also heart wrenching. In other words Miep Gies, along with her collaborator Alison, was able to create avery readable literary text from unreadable or unthinkable barbaric materials.

Besides its personal story, this book has a very high documentary value with regard to World War 11. It is evident by the excerpts given below too: “Any lightheartedness we felt dried up on the day in March, 1938, when the whole office stood together listening to Mr. Frank’s radio as the dramatic voice announced Hitler’s triumphal entry into the city of his youth, Vienna. The radio announcer described the atmosphere of flowers and flags and cheering, euphoric crowds. “In Vienna, Hitler had lived the life of an outcast. There I had lived as well. I ached inside. I imagined the hysterical joy of the Austrian rabble that cheered him on. I was reminded of my Austrian passport and deeply regretted that I hadn’t taken the time to rid myself of it.

“All of us were soon stunned when the news came that Viennese Jews had been made to clean out public toilets and scrub the streets in an orgy of Nazi depravity, and that these people’s possessions had been seized by the Nazis.” (Page 43) Miep Gies was an Austrian by birth.. At the age of eleven she was taken as a foster child by a Dutch family to whom she became very attached.

Although she was initially to stay for six months, this stay was extended to one year because of her frail health. Thereafter Gies chose to remain with them, living the rest of her life in the Netherlands. Gies became friends with Otto Frank, Anne’s father, after she started working for his Pectin company. At that timeOtto was a Jewish businessman who had moved with his family from Germany to the Netherlands in the hope of sparing his family from Nazi persecution.

Miep described the shattering moment after she found out that the annex people were betrayed: “It was just an ordinary Friday morning, August 4, 1944. First thing in the morning, I’d gone into the hiding place to get the shopping list. Lonely after the long night locked in together, my friends were hungry for a good visit. Anne, as usual, had many questions to ask and urged me to talk a little. I promised that I’d come back and sit and we could have a real talk in the afternoon when I returned with the groceries.

But conversation would have to wait until then. I went back to the office and started with my work. “Elli Vossen and Jo Koophuis were working across from me in the office. Sometime, between eleven and twelve o’clock, I looked up. There in the doorway stood a man in civilian clothes. I hadn’t heard the door. He was holding a revolver, pointing it at us. He came in.

“Stay put,” he said in Dutch. “Don’t move.” “Then he walked toward the back office where Mr. Kraler was working, leaving us alone. We were petrified. “Jo Koophuis said to me, ‘Miep, I think the time has come.’ “Elli began to tremble and shake. Meanwhile, Mr. Koophuis’s eyes darted toward the doorway. No one but the man with the gun seemed to be about.” (Pages 193–1994) So, ‘Anne Frank Remembered’ is a vital book to know about Anne Frank’s life in the eyes of Miep Gies, and about the last moments of their betrayal as well as how the diary was saved. As Ellie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winning Jewish author said, it is “a poignant account, vibrating with humanity.” Definitely, the humanity Miep Gies showed to the world still touches our hearts.?

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