Hero. A four letter word that seems too small to define this magnificent woman. As a Jew I am speechless in light of her courage. As a human being I am inspired to consider what is possible when character and morality outweigh fear.
Miep Gies defied Nazi occupiers and hid Anne Frank for two years. She was one of the non-jews who supplied food, books and hope to Anne, her family and four other jews. She was also responsible for saving Anne’s notebooks and papers – amongst them, her famous diary. Gies refused to read these in the spirit of preserving the teenager’s privacy. Wow! (a little levity, this woman was a non-Jew, hence not a Yenta).
When Anne died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945, Gies gave the diary to the only survivor of the Frank family – Anne’s father Otto. After the diary was published Gies continually promoted causes of tolerance. A modest woman, she showed humility in light of her heroic actions, telling the AP before her 100th birthday that many had done the same or far more dangerous work. She believed she was only doing her human duty. At a time when genocide was the norm, this woman chose to be a human being in spite of the madness around her.
I like to think that Miep Gies was rewarded the gift of such a long life because of her selfless behavior. For anyone who is starting to doubt the power of character, take a look at how this woman lived her life and you can’t help but have renewed faith.
RIP, Miep Gies. May you inspire generations to come with the way in which you lived your life.