Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miep Gies and Anne Frank

I heard the news this morning that Miep Gies, 100, passed away in The Netherlands. She was one of around 20,000 other regular Dutch citizens who hid people of the Jewish faith from the Nazis during World War II. She was the last living member of the group who hid the eight people and provided for them for more than two years. After the Frank family and the other four people hiding with them were found, Gies found Anne's diary and kept it hidden until she gave it to Otto Frank, Anne's father, after the war had ended. She had been Otto's secretary before the war.

Otto decided to publish an edited version of Anne's diary in 1947. I received The Diary of a Young Girl from my grandmother for Christmas when I was only 11. I read it very soon after receiving it and I remember feeling fascinated by this girl's diary and all that was in it. Of course, as a fifth-grader, all of the political undertones and much of what was going on outside the walls of The Secret Annex were lost on me at the time. However, I've read it seven more times since then, and reading it has meant more to me each time because I knew a lot more about the circumstances that brought Anne and her family into hiding, and what the world has been like since. As you can probably imagine, my paperback copy is one of the most dog-eared books I have.

My grandmother must have known I'd like the book, because she also purchased Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold in 1988 at an Anne Frank exhibition that came to her city. She may have purchased the diary for me at the same time, but waited a few years before giving me Gies' book.

A few years after I received The Diary of a Young Girl, a new edition was published that includes material Otto opted not to publish in the original version. I have a copy of the newer one too and have read it once. It includes Anne's writing of her own sexual discovery and rants about other residents of The Secret Annex. The newer version is about a third longer than the older and more well-known one.

A few years ago, I happened upon a book called The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank: The Stories of Six Women Who Knew Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer in a used book store. I bought it, but have never read it.

It sounds like it might be time for me to read this and to reread Anne's diary.

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