Miep Gies risked her life to keep a secret. Behind the bookcase in her office, stairs led to a hiding place where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. Once a refugee herself, Miep knew the power of kindness. Her selflessness, humanity, and bravery sheltered Anne for a time. Because of Miep, Anne Frank’s story lives on. –Behind the Bookcase Jacket
YOUNG MIEP GIES
Miep Gies was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. Her name was Hermine Santrouschitz. After Austria’s loss in World War I, food was scarce and Miep became malnourished as many of Austria’s children did. Her parents were concerned that their eleven-year-old daughter might die.
Along with other families in the Netherlands, the Nieuwenhuises offered to take care of an Austrian child. Miep’s parents sent her to Leiden to live with the Dutch family. They called her Hermine at first, but then gave her the “affectionate Dutch nickname” Miep. Soon, Mr. and Mrs. Neiuwenhuise began to think of Miep as their adoptive child and the four boys in the family referred to her as one of their two sisters.
Through their kindness and lots of Dutch bread, butter, milk, cheese and chocolate, Miep grew healthy. Her foster father took her to school where the children grabbed her hands, sat her down, and taught her to speak Dutch. Soon, Miep was the top student in her class.
Miep embraced the Dutch life. She rode a bicycle for the first time, learned to make butter sandwiches, talked about what she read in the newspaper and learned to love classical music. But ice skating on a frozen canal was something she tried once but would never try again.
When she was thirteen, Miep and her new family moved to Amsterdam. She loved its movie theaters, electric streetcars, the canals winding through the city, the beautiful flower stalls, and all the bicycles racing along the city’s bike paths.
When she was sixteen, she visited her Austrian family. Miep told them that she had grown to love living in Amsterdam and wanted to stay there. She considered herself to be Dutch now. Her parents gave their permission and Miep returned to Amsterdam and her life with the Nieuwenhuise family. In 1941, she married Jan Gies. From the time she was eleven until her death in 2010, at age 100, Miep Gies proudly lived a Dutch life.