How 9 Ordinary People Became Heroes During The Holocaust — And Risked Everything To Save Jewish Lives

Published September 1, 2021
Updated March 12, 2024

Miep Gies: The Woman Who Hid Anne Frank And Saved Her Diary

Miep Gies

Getty ImagesMiep Gies holding a copy of the diary she saved.

In 1947, an Amsterdam publishing house released a remarkable book: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. This collection of diary entries, which recorded the life of a young Jewish teenager hiding from the Nazis, became a powerful account of the suffering of Jews during World War II.

But Anne’s diaries only survived because of a family friend named Miep Gies.

Gies (born Hermine Santruschitz) worked for Anne’s father, Otto, at a pectin and spice company in Amsterdam. But after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Gies soon realized that her boss was in danger. So she agreed to shelter the Franks in spare rooms above the offices where she worked.

For two years, Gies guarded their secret. As Anne Frank wrote about life in hiding, Gies quietly provided for them, often visiting multiple grocery stores so that she wouldn’t attract suspicion by buying a lot of food at one place.

Anne Frank

Wikimedia CommonsAnne Frank in 1940. She kept her diary from 1942 until her family’s capture in 1944.

“Miep is just like a pack mule, she fetches and carries so much,” Anne wrote in one entry. “Almost every day she manages to get hold of some vegetables for us [and] brings everything in shopping bags on her bicycle.”

But Gies couldn’t protect the Franks forever. The hiding place was raided in August 1944. The Franks and the other hidden families were arrested and taken away. However, the Nazis left one thing behind: Anne Frank’s diary.

Gies intended to return the diary to its rightful owner. But tragically, Anne Frank died of typhus in 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. When her father — the only member of the Frank family to survive the Holocaust — returned to the Netherlands, Gies gave the diary to him.

Eventually, Otto Frank decided to publish it, bringing Anne’s story to millions. But it may have been lost to history if it weren’t for Miep Gies.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "How 9 Ordinary People Became Heroes During The Holocaust — And Risked Everything To Save Jewish Lives.", September 1, 2021, Accessed May 29, 2024.