Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector, dies
Miep Gies, who was among the group who brought food to Anne Frank and her family while they were in hiding, has died. She was 100.
Without Gies, the world would never have known the writing of Anne Frank. Gies gathered up papers left behind when the Franks were taken away, hoping to return them to the girl one day. Instead, she gave them to her father, Otto Frank, who published them as his daughter's diary.
Last fall, Francine Prose looked at Anne Frank's literary legacy in "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife." David L. Ulin reviewed the book for the L.A. Times:
What makes Frank so essential, Prose argues, is ... her "sensibly and understandably mixed view of human nature." Her diary is not, as we have come to think of it, a universal story, but first and foremost a particular one. "I had become increasingly impatient with the notion of Anne Frank as the perky teenage messenger of peace and love . . . ," Prose writes. "Such a misreading of Anne's book and her 'message,' I'd thought, constituted a denial of what happened to her after the diary ended, and of the cruel fates that befell millions of equally innocent men and women and children."
The tension between the perky messenger and her mixed view is clear in this passage from Frank's diary:
It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again.
Anne Frank died in 1945 in Bergen-Belsen; she was 15. Thanks to Miep Gies, her words have outlived both of them.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Miep Gies. Credit: Anne Frank House / AFP