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Austrian-born secretary Gies who cared for Jewish families in hiding turns 100

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - Miep Santrouschitz-Gies, the woman who helped the Otto Frank family during their time in hiding during World War II, has celebrated her hundredth birthday quietly with family and friends. Gies was employed by the Franks at their spice business.

Eleven year-old Austrian-born Hermine was taken to Leiden, the Netherlands in December 1920, to escape the food shortages prevailing in Austria in the aftermath of World War I. Gies worked as a secretary for Otto Frank’s spice business Opekta.

Miep and her husband Jan Gies helped hide Edith and Otto Frank, their daughters Margot and Anne Frank, along with Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer in sealed-off back rooms of Opekta's office building on Amsterdam's Prinsengracht from July 1942 until August 4, 1944. The Amsterdam annex is now The Anne Frank Museum.

Just helped

For two years, together with the other helpers, Gies provided the two families with food and other essentials. Although this put her own life and that of her family at risk, she rejects the thought that she is a hero. She maintains she simply did what she could to help.

After the hideaway was betrayed and its occupants arrested in August 1944, Miep Gies found Anne Frank's diary. She kept it in a desk drawer for Anne Frank's return. Once the war was over and it was confirmed that Anne had perished in Bergen-Belsen, Gies gave the diary to her father, Otto Frank, the sole survivor of his family. He arranged for the book's publication in 1947.