Miep Gies Biography

Miep Gies, a Catholic woman, played a crucial role in protecting Jews, including Anne Frank and her family, from the Nazis during World War II. Born into extreme poverty in Vienna, Austria, Gies faced malnourishment during her childhood due to the shortage of food caused by the First World War. Seeking better health, she was sent to the Netherlands through a relief project for Austrian children and was taken in by a Dutch family. It was there that she began working with Otto Frank, a Jewish businessman who had fled Germany to escape Nazi persecution. Over the course of two years, Gies became a close friend of the Frank family and provided them with assistance while they were in hiding. As the last surviving member of the group of non-Jewish individuals who helped hide eight Jews, Gies played a pivotal role in rescuing Anne Frank’s private diary and returning it to her father, Otto. Her actions are widely credited with ensuring that the world would come to know about the diary of Anne Frank.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Hermine Santruschitz, Hermine Gies
  • Died At Age: 100
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Jan Gies
    • Father: Mathias Santruschitz
    • Mother: Genofeva Jakuschitz
    • Children: Paul Gies
  • Born Country: Austria
  • Height: 1.5 m
  • Died on: January 11, 2010
  • Place of death: Hoorn
  • City: Vienna, Austria
  • More Facts:
    • 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

Early Life & Career

Miep Gies was born in Vienna on 15 February 1909 to Mathias and Karolina Santruschitz. Due to her family’s dire financial situation, she was sent to Leiden from Vienna in December 1920 to escape the food shortage in Austria after the First World War. By 1922, she had moved to the Netherlands and lived with a foster family in Amsterdam. Gies graduated high school and later worked as an accountant. In 1933, she began working as a secretary with the Dutch branch of the German spice firm Opekta, where she soon befriended the Frank family.

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 the terrible things being done to the Jews in Amsterdam. She never told anyone about hiding the Frank family, including her own foster parents. To remain discreet about purchasing food for the people in hiding, she would visit different suppliers in a day and never carried more than one shopping bag to hide it under her coat.

Keeping Anne’s Diary

On 4 August 1944, Dutch police officers raided 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 even made a final attempt to free the arrested people by going inside the headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst, but her efforts were in vain.

Family & Personal Life

Miep Gies met her future husband, Jan Gies, in her first job and they got married on 16 July 1941. At the time of their 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

Miep Gies passed away on January 11, 2010, just a month before her 101st birthday, following a bad fall at a nursing home. She 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. Gies published a memoir titled ‘Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family’ in 1987. She also has a minor planet named after her called 99949 Miepgies.

Leave a Comment