New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1987. 220pp.
Anne Frank Remembered is the autobiography of Miep Gies, the woman who helped the Frank family survive during their two years in hiding. Her book is a primary source or first hand account of the persecution of Jewish people in Nazi occupied Holland during the second world war. It is also the first hand account of the hiding of Jews such as the Frank family, the Van Daan family, and Dr. Albert Dussel during this time.
In regard to the book’s autobiographical format, the author, Miep Gies, does not present the reader with a clear thesis statement. Instead, throughout the book the author discusses her main views toward the actions of the Nazis and their oppression of the Jewish people. Her disapproval of German Nazi actions is evident in the following quotation, when she was asked to join the Nazi Girls’ Club:
” ‘How can I join such a club?’ I icily asked. ‘Look at what the Germans are
doing to the Jews in Germany.’ …Let her take a good look at me and see
with her own eyes that some ‘Aryan’ woman was not to be swept in by
the Nazis.” (Gies, p. 41, 1987).
The main source of background to the author’s viewpoint is her own story. In order to further discuss her main points and views, a summary of her story must be given.
The book began with a brief history of the childhood of Miep Gies. She was born in Vienna, Austria in 1909, where she lived with her parents until the age eleven year. She was then sent to Amsterdam by a program in the aid of undernourished and sick children and was to be adopted by a Dutch family. She became used to the Dutch way of life as she grew older and soon she began to consider herself Dutch, not Viennese.
Her association with the Frank family began when she was given a job with the Pectacon Company, owned and operated by Mr. Otto Frank. His company made and sold pectin, which was used for making jam. Miep’s first part of the job was to make jam with different formulas of pectin. After becoming an expert jam maker, she was placed at a desk in the office to do office work. She became very close to the Frank family and was invited to their home regularly for meals. She also began a relationship with a man named Jan, whom she later married.
Throughout her book, Miep incorporated much information on Hitler’s Nazi movement in both the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. She described the slow persecution of the Jews and the various restrictions placed upon them. In July of 1942, Miep and her husband helped the Frank family move into a hiding place named ‘the secret annex’, located in secret rooms of the Pectacon company building. It had become too dangerous for the Frank family to live as Jews in Amsterdam. An order came for the Pectacon company to be liquidated as a Jewish business, so Mr. Frank turned it over in the names of his trusted, Christian business associates: Mr. Kraler and Mr. Koophuis. Although legally Mr. Frank had no ties with the business, it was still secretly directed by him with the means of clandestine meetings between the three men.
Miep described her responsibilities in shopping for the family and providing them with the necessities of life. She and her husband came up with plans to get extra ration cards in order to feed the Franks’, the Van Daans’, Dr. Dussel, and themselves. All of the things she did for the families put a risk on her own life; even providing them with her companionship was illegal. However, Miep and her husband became one of the onlylinks the families in hiding had to the outside world.
On the morning of August 4, 1944, the efforts of Miep and the families failed when their hiding place was raided by Nazi officials. The families were arrested and sent to prison camps. The only thing left for Miep to do was retrieve some of their belongings. During her quick surveyance of the scene of the raid, she found the diary of Mr. Frank’s youngest daughter, Anne. She took it back to her desk and saved it until the war was over.
In early 1945, the war ended and the remaining Jewish prisoners were released. The only survivor of the families Miep had helped to hide was Otto Frank. She had kept his business running and he returned to live with her and her husband. After receiving a letter confirming the death of Anne and her sister Margot, Miep gave Anne’s diary to Mr. Frank. The diary was published and became popular all over the world. It was Anne’s legacy to everyone who had suffered under Nazi rule.
This story is the author’s main evidence in her argument that under Nazi rule, “a slow strangulation was taking place, we began to realize: first isolation, and now impoverization” (Gies, p. 71, 1987) of the Jewish race. Her argument is very convincing to the reader because her evidence is a first hand account of what actually happened. She was an eye witness to what happened to honest Jewish families such as the Frank family and the Van Daan family.
The author’s use of language and her descriptions of events illustrate that she strongly was against what the Nazis were doing to people. It indicates an intended audience of most likely those who have already read The Diary of Anne Frank and are looking for further investigation on the topic. However, it is not required that the reader has read The Diary of Anne Frank before reading this book. Miep Gies starts from the very beginning of her association with the Frank family and completes the story of their life. Although this book is recommended to anyone who is interested in this topic, the book may also be directed towards those of Jewish decent who experienced similar instances and want to find out what happened to others.
In final evaluation, I have found this book to be very convincing, as it is a true story. The reader is left at the end of the book to draw their own opinions on the topic and the author’s account of the story. I found that the author’s use of evidence in her book was very good because her main source was her own story as an eye witness, with pictures and copies of documents to prove that the information is true. The book is very useful in understanding the issue of the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust in the second world war.