AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The last survivor of a group that helped Anne Frank and her family hide from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War Two and kept her diaries, has died at the age of 100.
Miep Gies, a Dutch office assistant, was one of a handful of non-Jews who provided Anne’s Jewish family with supplies at a secret warehouse annex in Amsterdam between July 1942 and August 1944, before the building was raided by the Nazi SS.
Gies died on Monday night following a short illness, according to a statement on her website.
“There is nothing special about me,” Gies wrote in a book first published in 1987. “I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time.”
After Anne and her family were taken to concentration camps, where Anne died in 1945, Gies saved her diaries and handed them over to Anne’s father Otto, who survived the camps and published the records in 1947.
As a result Frank became famous posthumously for the diaries she kept during the war. Now translated into more than 70 languages, her diaries remain one of the world’s best-selling books, vividly describing life during those years.
After the war, Gies gave public speeches to keep Anne’s memory alive and corresponded with people around the world. She also campaigned against holocaust denial and other causes.
In a letter to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Gies “won the hearts of us all by her heroic efforts” to save Anne, her family and her diary.
“Miep’s selfless humanitarian deed inspires us to continue believing in the goodness and integrity of human beings in the face of unfathomable evil,” Peres wrote.
SAVING ANNE‘S MEMORY
Born in Vienna to Christian parents on February 15, 1909 with the name of Hermine Santruschitz, she moved to Leiden in 1920 to escape food shortages and was raised by a Dutch family who moved to Amsterdam two years later and nicknamed her Miep.
She started work as an office assistant at a textile factory but lost her job in 1933 as the economic crisis deepened. She then came under the employment of Anne’s father, Otto Frank, who was director of a pectin producing company.
Gies avoided deportation to Austria by marrying her Dutch boyfriend, Jan, in 1941. Their son Paul was born in 1950 and they lived in Amsterdam until 1993, when Jan died at age 87. Paul has now opened a condolences register on his website.
Gies and her husband became family friends with the Franks and when Otto asked for help, they agreed to hide him and his family at the secret annex, bringing them daily groceries and providing a link to the outside world.
In August 1944, after 25 months in hiding, the Frank family were arrested but an Austrian SS officer spared Gies from captivity out of sympathy on condition she promised not to flee.
Gies found Anne’s diaries in the debris left by the raid and kept them in her desk drawer without ever reading them. After the war ended, when it became clear that Anne was not coming back, she handed them over to Anne’s father.
She received honours from several governments and institutions, and last year had an asteroid named after her by the International Astronomical Union.