Folk Figure. One of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during World War II. She discovered and preserved Anne Frank's diary after the Franks were arrested. Born Hermine Santrouschitz in Vienna, Miep Gies was transported to Leiden from Vienna in December 1920 to escape the food shortages prevailing in Austria after World War I. In 1922, she moved with her foster family to Amsterdam. In 1933, she met Otto Frank when she applied for the post of temporary secretary in his spice company, Opekta. She initially ran the Complaints and Information desk in Opekta, and was eventually promoted to a more general administrative role. She became a close friend of the Frank family, as did Jan Gies, whom she married on 28 July 1941 after she refused to join a Nazi women's association and was threatened with deportation back to Austria. Her knowledge of Dutch and German helped the Frank family assimilate into Dutch society, and she and her husband became regular guests at the Franks' home. With her husband, and her colleagues, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl, Miep Gies helped hide Edith and Otto Frank, their daughters Margot and Anne, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer in a secret upstairs room that was not used in the spice company's office building on Amsterdam's Prinsengracht from July 1942 to 4 August 1944. In theory, Miep and the other helpers could have been shot if they had been caught hiding Jews. In practice, however, those caught hiding Jews were more commonly sentenced to four to six months of hard labor. On the morning of 4 August 1944, acting on information provided by an informant, the Gestapo arrested the people hidden at Frank's place of business, as well as Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman. A few days later, Miep unsuccessfully tried to bribe the Austrian Nazi officer to release her friends. Three separate criminal investigations after the war all failed to identify the informant. Before the hiding place was emptied by the authorities, Miep retrieved Anne Frank's diaries and saved them in her desk drawer for Anne's return. Once the war was over and it was confirmed that Anne had perished in Bergen-Belsen, Gies gave the collection of papers and notebooks to the sole survivor from the Secret Annexe, Anne's father, Otto. After transcribing sections for his family, his daughter's literary ability became apparent and he arranged for the book's publication in 1947. Miep did not read the diaries before turning them over to him, and later remarked that if she had she would have had to destroy them because Anne had named all five of the helpers (the Gestapo had identified and arrested two) as well as their black market suppliers. She was, however, eventually persuaded by Otto Frank to read it in its second printing. In 1994, Miep Gies was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany; in 1995, she received the Yad Vashem medal, and in 1997, she was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Miep and Jan's only child, Paul, was born on 13 July 1950. Jan Gies died in 1993 from diabetes. In December 1994, during the making of the documentary film Anne Frank Remembered, Miep was introduced to Peter Pfeffer, the son of Fritz Pfeffer. After his parents divorced, Pfeffer was raised by his father, until his father felt it was too dangerous for him to remain in Germany, and in 1938 was sent to London to live with his uncle. By the end of the war he had lost most of his close family, including his father and mother, who had died in Theresienstadt. Pfeffer moved to the United States and settled in California, where he founded a successful office supply business. Pfeffer, upon meeting Miep Gies, expressed his thanks to her for attempting to save his father's life and Miep asked him if there was anything he wanted to know about his father, expressing that he was a good man and fine dentist. Pfeffer died of cancer two months later. Miep Gies states in her autobiography, and on her own website: "I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more – much more - during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then." Miep Gies lived in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland. According to Carol Ann Lee's biography of Otto Frank, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank, Gies stopped granting interviews after enduring a bout of severe ill health. On 15 February 2009, she celebrated her 100th birthday. (At that time, according to her son, Gies was in good health and followed the news on a daily basis.) Gies died on 11 January 2010, following a short illness.
Bio courtesy of: Wikipedia