I read “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” many times. I took the story to heart and hoped to someday visit the secret annex where Anne spent two years of her life before she perished in a Nazi concentration camp. A few years ago my wish came true when my husband and I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. As we stood in line to enter we spoke quietly with others from various countries; our lives had all been touched by Anne’s story.
Do young girls still read this book and feel the connection to her? Do teachers assign it and librarians recommend it? I hope so. Through this book, young people get a sense of what it was like to be persecuted for being Jewish in Europe during World War II.
Another person in the book who made a big impression on me was Miep Gies. She was one of a few people who brought food and sustenance to the group in hiding, choosing to risk their own lives by doing so. Miep was Anne’s friend and lifeline. A few years ago, I was excited to see that an elderly woman being interviewed on television was Miep Gies, still alive and telling the story of what happened so many years ago. Miep said she was not a hero, but I respectfully disagree. She helped to show the world what an individual could do; her life influenced young people who read about her actions and her kindness. She was a role model above and beyond the usual meaning of the term.
Sometimes we get reminders that the horrors of World War II are not that far away in time or place. Miep Gies passed away yesterday. Farewell to Anne’s extraordinary friend, a brave woman.