The XX Factor

Miep Gies, Heroine

Miep Gies, the Dutch woman who sheltered the family of Anne Frank in an annex above the office where she worked for Anne’s father, Otto, has died at the age of 100. We have this tiny, courageous woman to thank for risking her own life in an ultimately futile attempt to save the Franks, the van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer, the Jews who took refuge in the annex. My family and I went to the annex, now a museum, a year ago. In a short video clip, Gies described how one day she went up to bring some food and walked in on Anne at a desk, writing furiously. Anne’s mother, Edith, came over to Gies and asked her not to interrupt Anne’s concentration, explaining that her daughter was a young writer. After the Nazis were tipped off and Anne and the others were sent to their deaths (with the exception of Otto), it was Gies who gathered up the scattered pages of that diary. In the New York Times obituary of this great woman, there is the hearbreaking detail of Gies bringing Anne her first, and only, pair of high heels.

Photograph of Miep Gies by Karl-Heinz Schindler, courtesy of the German Federal Archive.