Thursday, January 14, 2010

Miep Gies: A quiet voice that spoke out

Miep Gies, the woman who was the last surviving protector of Anne Frank and her family, died this week at age 100. She's the person who discovered Frank's diary after the Nazis raided their hiding place and took them to concentration camps. The New York Times obituary notes that she preferred a quiet life and avoided public speaking until her own story became known:
Mrs. Gies sought no accolades for joining with her husband and three others in hiding Anne Frank, her father, mother and older sister and four other Dutch Jews for 25 months in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. But she came to be viewed as a courageous figure when her role in sheltering Anne Frank was revealed with the publication of her memoir. She then traveled the world while in her 80s, speaking against intolerance....she began to travel widely as a living link to Anne Frank and spoke on the lessons of the Holocaust, often talking to schoolchildren who were reading Anne’s diary.
That's astonishing, in its own way: She started a public speaking career in her 80s, even though her preference seems to have been to remain quiet. I think that adds to her eloquence, and find myself struck by the power when a quiet person chooses to speak out. Perhaps that's because, as seems to have been the case for Gies, they're doing so not to advance themselves but because they feel passionately about their subject. In fact, the obituary notes that Gies and her husband would stay quietly at home on the anniversary of the raid, preferring to remember their friends rather than participate in public ceremonies. MSNBC has a previous interview with Miep Gies here . (Photos of Gies in 1999, right, and with her husband Jan Gies, on their wedding day in 1941, left, courtesy of the Anne Frank House.)

1 comment:

K8peters said...

This is beautifully written. She was a remarkable woman who was an inspiration to so many. My daughter had a chance to introduce her at a gathering at her high school. She has never forgotten speaking with Miep AND about her. We are all fortunate that such people exist on the planet!