Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Passing of Miep Gies

Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide Anne Frank and preserved the diary that immortalized them both, has died.

See an interview with her at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmAa2eN7wFY

Yes, six million Jews perished in the Holocaust, but who knows how many more people might have lost their lives if not for the bravery and selflessness of people like Miep? Even though Miep recieved praise and many honors for her work during the war, she once said, "I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more – much more - during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness." So, today, let's not honor Miep Gies for giving Anne Frank's diary to the world. Let's honor for her for having been Miep Gies.

In this memorial tribute from the Huffington Post, Lynn Grossman recalls a visit by Gies to a Long Island synagogue in the late '80s. 

Miep Gies appeared at Temple Judea in Manhasset, Long Island in the autumn of 1988. She discussed Anne Frank with each religious school class and described her own experience of living through the Holocaust as a non-Jew.

The evening she was to give her speech, a thousand people filled the temple sanctuary to more than overflowing. Before the speech, Nita took her daughters, me and my daughter, Mariah, who was eleven at the time, to meet Miep Gies.

Miep Gies sat in an armchair wearing a dark skirt and cardigan and a white silk blouse with a grandmotherly scalloped collar. Her large eyeglasses were thin-framed and brown. She asked Mariah in accented English, if she knew about Anne Frank. Mariah said yes. She told Mariah that with her large, dark eyes, Mariah looked just like Anne Frank.

She said that children Mariah's age would be the last generation to meet people who had lived through the Holocaust, people who had witnessed it first-hand. That is why she had wanted to speak to the children, she said. She worried that people might someday say that the Holocaust had never happened. She said if someone told that to Mariah, Mariah was to say, "These things did happen. I know it. I talked to a woman who was there." She made Mariah promise, which Mariah did. Then Miep Gies shook Mariah's hand and as we walked on, I saw her talking to another child.


Hesh Romanowitz said...

Another worthwhile column is Menachem Rosensaft's re: saintliness (in The Jewish Week).
I'll forward and you can link if you like.

Shabbat Shalom,

Joshua Hammerman said...

Here is that link to the Rosensaft article: http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c55_a17649/Editorial__Opinion/Opinion.html