Sunday, February 15, 2009

Woman who hid Anne Frank from the Nazis marks her 100th birthday

Anne Frank called them the "Helpers". They provided food, books and good cheer while she and her family hid for two years from the Nazis in a tiny attic apartment. On Sunday, the last surviving helper, Miep Gies, celebrates her 100th birthday, saying she has won more accolades for helping the Frank family than she deserved - as if, she says, she tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland.

"This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work," she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press this week.It was Gies who gathered up Anne's scattered papers and notebooks after the hiding place was raided in 1944. She locked them unread in a desk drawer to await the teenager's return.

Anne died of typhus in the German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen seven months after her arrest. British and Canadian troops liberated the camp two weeks later.

Gies gave the collection to Anne's father Otto, the only survivor among the eight people who hid in the concealed attic of the canal-side warehouse. He published it in 1947, and it was released in English in 1952 as "The Diary of a Young Girl." Retitled "The Diary of Anne Frank," it was the first book about the Holocaust to win popular appeal, and has sold tens of millions of copies in dozens of languages.

A new edition of her 1987 book "Anne Frank Remembered" is due to be published this year.

Gies was born in Austria, and came to the Netherlands at age 13 to escape food shortages and live with a foster family. In 1933 she was hired as an office assistant in Otto Frank's spice business. Frank asked her in July 1942 to help hide his family in the annex above the company's warehouse and to bring them food and supplies.

The family, joined by four other Jews, hid for 25 months before they were betrayed. Repeated investigations by police and historians failed to definitively identify who turned them in.

Click here to read the entire article.

1 comment:

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