The Mad Rambling of a Hot Hormonal Forty Something.
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Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Meip Geis- A Heroine
The sad news that Miep Gies has died aged 100 reach me today. In case you don't know who this lady is I will explain.
Along with her husband, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman and Bep Voskuijl, she helped to hide Edith and Otto Franks, Anne and her sister Margot. They also hid Hermann and Auguste van Pels, his wife and their son Peter and Fritz Pfeffer. As you may know Anne Franks and the rest of them were hidden in a secret office in an attic at a spice factory from July 1942 to 4th August 1944, kept safe warm and fed by the above named people at a great cost to themselves as they could have been shot for hiding Jews.
Early on the morning of the 4th August 1944 acting on information from an informant the Gestapo raided the attic, arrested and took away everyone, including Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman. Despite 3 inquieries after the war this informant was never discovered.
Before the authorities could get into the attic to empty it, Miep got there first and found Anne's Diary, she took it home with her and kept it safe in the hope of being able to give it back to Anne once the war was over. When the war was over and it was confirmed that Anne had perished in Bergen-Belsen Meip gave them to the sole survivor of the attic, Otto. Anne's father. They were more a collection of papers and notebooks, then one diary.
Miep actually did not read the diary while it was in her procession, she said years later that if she had, she would have destroyed them, as they named all the 5 helpers and their relation to them all. This was in a time when diaries were considered private and it simply would have not occurred to Meip to read such a private and intimate portrayal of someone's life, even if they were only the writings of a 13 year old girl. In fact Meip did not read the diary until Otto Franks persuaded her to read it on it's second printing. The first publication being in 1947.
In 1994, she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1995, she was awarded the Yad Vashem medal. In 1997, she was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Although Jan (meips husband) was arrested on the 4th of August he was eventually reunited with Meip, they went on to have a son called Paul, an only child. Jan died in 1993 from complications caused by diabetes.
Here is a quote from Anne's own diary where she talks about the struggles of those helping the Jews, as she knew they were not the only ones being helped and in hiding........
"The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they'll find themselves sharing the fate of those they're trying to protect. Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be, never have they complained that we're too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties and to the children about books and newspapers. They put on their most cheerful expressions, bring flowers and gifts for birthdays and holidays and are always ready to do what they can. That's something we should never forget; while others display their heroism in battle or against the Germans, our helpers prove theirs every day by their good spirits and affection." from The Diary of Anne Frank, entry of Jan. 28, 1944
I was first given a copy of Anne's diary on my 13th birthday, it had been given to my mother on her 13th and I passed it on to Patricia on her 13th, whom I hope will pass it on. I remember when I first read it thinking that she was rather sullen and a misery, it wasn't till I re-read it later that I realised the true implications of the book. I have re-read it many times and it never fails to move me.
Anne's diary is to this day one of the top selling books World wide, but it is thanks to Meip that we have this wonderful insight into what it must have been like in the attic.
It is as some of you know only thanks to the quiet bravery of unknown people that I and my family are here today. In a strange way it has also made me realise that we will now never know who the people were who did help my Grandparents, but I will always hold people like Meip, her husband and all the others who helped in the highest regard, as I am only to aware of the dangers they put them selves in for strangers that they would never see again.
Meip has her own web site HERE if you want to know more about this heroine of WWII. Don't worry it is in english.