Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rest in Peace, Miep Gies

I was an avid reader as a kid - and as an adult, for that matter - and one of the books that touched me the most was The Diary of Anne Frank. It was an example of the horror that the Jewish people went through at that time. When I was in Amsterdam a few years ago, we went by the house where she and her family had been hidden for so long. It was a skinny, tiny structure and they were in a tiny annex of the place.

My Uncle Bill was a solider in the first U.S. Army unit that marched into Dachau and was shocked by the absolute human tragedy of what they saw in just one concentration camp. All these years later, he still will not talk about it. His work with many rescue operations over the years, including the Salvation Army, was sparked by the need to always continue helping people and how dangerous prejudice is.

Anne Frank's diary and papers were protected for years. Her father, Otto, survived the war and had the diary published - which, of course, became famous. An incredibly mature young girl, one can hardly imagine the pain she faced. The entire family was wiped out, except for her father, along with approximately six million other Jews at the time. It is a horrible part of history.

According to BBC news, "Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group which helped protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, has died in the Netherlands at age 100."

She and other employees of Anne Frank's father Otto supplied food to the family as they hid in a secret annex above the business premises in Amsterdam.

Anne's diary of their life in hiding, which ended in betrayal, is one of the most famous records of the Holocaust.

It was rescued by Mrs Gies, who kept it safe until after the war.

Miep Gies died in a nursing home after suffering a fall just before Christmas.

Speaking last year as she celebrated her 100th birthday, Mrs Gies played down her role, saying others had done far more to protect Jews in the Netherlands.

She and her fellow employees kept Anne and the seven others supplied for two years, from 1942 to 1944.

What a giving, humble woman. This is someone who truly deserved to live a long life, and really made a difference. May she rest in peace and may her memory live on.

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