Birthday: February 15, 1909
Nationality: Austrian, Dutch
Died At Age: 100
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Hermine Santruschitz, Hermine Gies
Born Country: Austria
Born in: Vienna, Austria
Famous as: Writer
Height: 1.5 m
Spouse/Ex-: Jan Gies
father: Mathias Santruschitz
mother: Genofeva Jakuschitz
children: Paul Gies
Died on: January 11, 2010
place of death: Hoorn
City: Vienna, Austria
awards: Righteous Among the Nations
Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau
Courage to Care Award
Raoul Wallenberg Award
Who was Miep Gies?
Miep Gies was a Catholic woman who protected several Jews, including Anne Frank and her family, from the Nazis during World War II. She was born Hermine Santrouschitz in Vienna, Austria, to an extremely poor family. As she was born during the First World War, she barely had anything to eat due to the shortage of food and was malnourished in her childhood days. In order to improve her health, her family decided to utilize a relief project for Austrian children and put her on a train to the Netherlands where was taken in by a Dutch family. A few years later, Gies started working with a Jewish businessman named Otto Frank. He had moved to the Netherlands from Germany with his family to get away from Nazi persecution. She later became a close friend of the Frank family and helped them for two years while they were hiding. Gies was the last surviving member of the group of five non-Jewish people who had helped hide eight Jews, including Anne Frank and her family, from the Nazis. She managed to rescue Anne Frank's private diary and gave it back to her father, Otto, the only one of those eight Jews to survive the Holocaust. Many believe that without Gies, the world would have never known about the diary of Anne Frank.
Early Life & Career
Gies was born in Vienna to Mathias and Karolina Santruschitz on 15 February 1909. Due to her family's dire financial situation, she had to be sent to Leiden from Vienna to escape the food shortage in Austria after the First World War in December 1920.
By 1922, she had moved to the Netherlands where she lived with a foster family in Amsterdam.
Gies graduated high school and later worked as an accountant. A few years later, in 1933, she began working as a secretary with the Dutch branch of the German spice firm Opekta. Otto Frank was appointed the managing director at the same company. Gies soon befriended the Frank family and became close to them.
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Hiding the Frank Family
When the Nazis began persecuting the Jews, Gies, her husband Jan, and other employees of the company helped in hiding Otto and Edith Frank along with their daughters.
The Jews were hidden in several rooms upstairs in the company's office building on Amsterdam's Prinsengracht. Gies took the risk of hiding the family to save them from all the terrible things that were being done to the Jews in Amsterdam.
She had seen many Jews being taken in trucks to the railway station, en route to Nazi concentration camps. She never told anyone about hiding the Frank family in the office building, including her own foster parents.
In order to remain discreet about purchasing food for the people in hiding, she would ensure visiting different suppliers in a day to avoid suspicion. She also never carried more than one shopping bag so that she could hide it under her coat.
Keeping Anne's Diary
On 4 August 1944, Dutch police officers had somehow managed to raid the office and found the eight people in hiding. They arrested all of them, including their helpers Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler.
Gies later went to the secret annex to help recover some personal belongings of those in hiding. That is when she found Anne's notebooks and papers on the floor. She kept the papers in a desk drawer, hoping one day to be able to return them to Anne.
She was so courageous that she even tried one final attempt to free the people who were arrested. She went inside the headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst to save them, but her efforts went in vain.
Family & Personal Life
Miep Gies met her future husband, Jan Gies, in her first job. They fell in love and got married on 16 July 1941, during the Second World War. At the time of her marriage, she was working as a social worker in the municipality of Amsterdam. They lived together in a house near the Merwedeplein, the same place where the Frank family lived.
Death & Legacy
Gies passed away on January 11, 2010, just a month before her 101st birthday. She died following a bad fall at a nursing home.
Gies was honored with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan in 1994.
In 1995, she received the Yad Vashem Righteous Among the Nations medal. In 1997, she was knighted in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
She had published a memoir titled ‘Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family’ (1987).
Gies also has a minor planet called 99949 Miepgies named after her.