Anne Frank’s friend

(photo by Andrew Moore © East Riding of Yorkshire)

Miep Gies is probably not a name most people would recognize, but when I tell you what she did, you may never forget her.  Miep was a young girl in Nazi-occupied Holland during the Second World War.  Her family helped hide Miep’s friend Anne Frank and Anne’s family.  Their act was noble, but that’s not the only reason you should remember Miep Gies.  When her friend Anne was discovered and taken away at gunpoint by the German Gestapo, Miep went to Anne’s empty room and gathered up all of the scattered papers left behind — the diary that Anne had kept while she and her family hid. Miep would keep them for her friend when she returned. Yet Anne never returned. Later Miep gave the diary to Anne’s father who had survived — and he, in turn, gave his daughter’s diary to the world when he published it in 1947.  Miep never thought of herself as remarkable — or heroic, as many called her. In fact, she was adamant that her deed was not exceptional because she thought that if one believed it took special or noble qualities to act in helping others, no one would act.  “People should never think that you have to be a very special person to help those who need you,” Miep told NPR during an interview before her death earlier this year at age 100.  Miep had gathered Anne’s papers hoping to return them to her friend. It was a simple act, a kind act, that had ramifications beyond anything Miep dreamed. It was an act that deepened the world’s understanding of the people lost in the Nazi holocaust and it changed the way the world thought about it all.   Miep’s act wasn’t for the glory.  It wasn’t for history.  It was for a friend. In the same simple way, JMU alumni improve the world everyday.  While our Be the Change website  features some astounding stories of JMU people doing remarkable things, we also feature those whose deeds might otherwise go unnoticed, those for whom awards aren’t made, those who are changing the world on a personal level  — those who understand that change begins when they act.

To hear the inspiring story of Meip Gies, go to:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world?” – Anne Frank


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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