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Moral Courage: Miep Gies 1909 -2010, RIP


Miep Gies and Otto Frank

Miep Gies, who sheltered Anne Frank and her family from arrest by the Gestapo for two years died today. She was 100 years old.

Gies’ Web site reported that she died Monday after a brief illness. The report was confirmed by museum spokeswoman Maatje Mostar, but she gave no details. The British Broadcasting Corp. said she died in a nursing home after suffering a fall last month.

Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid for 25 months during World War II

….Anne Frank died of typhus at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, just two weeks before the camp was liberated. Gies gave the diary to Anne’s father Otto, the only survivor, who published it in 1947.

After the diary was published, Gies tirelessly promoted causes of tolerance. She brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved – as if, she said, she had tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland.

“This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday last February.

….I don’t want to be considered a hero,” she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.

“Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”

Had Miep’s complicity in hiding the Frank and Van Dam families been discovered by Nazi authorities in occupied Holland, she would have been arrested by the Gestapo, interrogated and then deported to a concentration camp in the Third Reich, as happened to other Dutch citizens resisting the Final Solution.

What can we say about Miep Gies? At a time when many lent a hand or their silence to genocide, she chose to act, with full knowledge of the potential consequences. Such moral courage is daunting. Measuring ourselves against her example, most of us are found to be wanting. We are less than she, not because she did more but because in her place we might not have done at all. 

Some people, as in Rwanda or Ethiopia or Cambodia or Bosnia or Timor or Sudan not only fell short of Miep’s standard, they picked up a machete or an axe or a gun and threw in with the perpetrators and helped pave the way to Hell.

Sadly, Western governments sometimes served to grease the skids when they could have lent their power and prestige or at least their words, to impeding genocide.  In our polite and still civilized society, no one would call our bureaucrats with pale demeanors and gray suits who ceremoniously dissembled and piously parsed phrases on TV, taking a smirking pride in their sophistic cleverness, their ability to rationalize complete inaction, “Eichmann“. No one will say that to them.

Not until Judgment Day.

6 Responses to “Moral Courage: Miep Gies 1909 -2010, RIP”

  1. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Another light goes out in Europe. The battle between the exceptionality of righteousness and the banality of evil rages on. RIP. Enter in to the joy of thy Lord.

  2. Eddie Says:

    "How many acts of genocide constitute a genocide?"———"Madame Secretary…. what is the moral difference between "extermination camps" and the systematic rape of women/murder of men and displacement of survivors of a group of people by a hostile government?"——–"General, how come we were ordered to prevent ethnic cleansing ten years ago and now we are supposed to stand by and do nothing when its happening in front of us in Baghdad?"

  3. Linkblog Says:


    Miep Gies was the woman who sheltered Anne Frank and her family during the time of Nazi terror. She died on Monday 11th. This made the author to write an obituary.
    After giving more information about her life and deeds he requests action. Action which …

  4. onparkstreet Says:

    "I can’t stop watching the film clip of Anne Frank. Ever since the Anne Frank House museum posted it on their new Anne Frank YouTube channel a few weeks ago, I have watched it again and again. I must have watched it a hundred times. It is 20 seconds of shaky, black-and-white silence, in which Anne Frank appears at a window on a summer day in 1941. It is the only known film of Anne Frank." – article from The Smart Set.
    – Madhu

  5. Sean Meade Says:

    sure would be interested to hear more about the Zenpundit concept of Judgment Day!

  6. zen Says:

    LOL. It’s a teleological symbol.

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