The Real Story Behind The Woman Who Hid Anne Frank And Eventually Turned In Her Diary

Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most important documents of the 20th century. In presenting a specific young girl’s innermost thoughts about what it was like to live in hiding from the murderous Nazis, the diary manages to capture the wider horrors of one of history’s darkest chapters. As part of a warning to all of us about how easily a democratic society can transform into a monstrous and global-carnage-wreaking regime, its importance can’t be overstated. And it’s also crucial to acknowledge the people responsible for introducing it to the world, too. Anne’s father Otto was pivotal in this respect, but a less well-known figure was also essential in telling the diarist’s story: her name was Miep Gies.

For safekeeping

Miep was one of a team of people who, for two long years, bravely helped to conceal the Frank family from the authorities. The tragedy is that this group’s efforts, in the end, proved to be in vain. The Nazis found Anne and her family, arrested them, and sent most of them to their deaths.

Anne’s diary was left behind. The authorities didn’t get their hands on it at the time of the arrest, so Miep took it. As she later explained in her autobiography, she placed it inside a drawer, keeping it “safely for Anne until she came back.”

A tough childhood

Growing up, Miep had herself known suffering. She had been born in 1909 into poverty, the daughter of a Catholic family living in Vienna. Her name, at the time of her birth, was Hermine Santrouschitz. Things were tough for her growing up: her family barely had enough money to feed her, and she was extremely malnourished.

There was a program at the time which relocated impoverished, hungry kids to foster families, who could present them with the opportunity to become healthier. Wanting a better life for their child, Miep’s parents sent her away to the Netherlands.

One of the family

In 1920 Miep made it to the city of Leiden, where a family called the Nieuwenburgs took her in. Four years later they moved to Amsterdam, before eventually adopting Miep as one of their own. She was part of the family now, known to the Nieuwenburgs by the nickname “Miep.”

When she was older, in 1933 Miep found a job in Amsterdam with a firm that packaged pectin, a thickening agent used in catering. Her boss there was a guy named Otto Frank: he’d had some struggles of his own over the last few years.

A bond is formed

Miep and Otto became quite close, with the two prone to engaging in political discussions about the issues of the day. Inevitably, that meant speaking a lot about Germany, Otto’s native country, which had just elected Adolf Hitler as chancellor. The Franks, as a Jewish family, had known then they needed to emigrate.

It was a painful decision, but Otto eventually came to terms with it. “Though this did hurt me deeply,” he later said, “I realized that Germany was not the world, and I left my country forever.”