Den Haag, 31. July 2009 Press release

Austrian award for Anne Frank’s helper Miep Gies

The Hague, 31 July 2009 – Yesterday morning, the Austrian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr. Wolfgang Paul, presented Dutch centenarian Miep Gies with a distinguished Austrian award.

Born Hermine Santrouschitz in Vienna in 1909, Miep Gies, who is known throughout the world for helping hide eight people in the rear building on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht from July 1942 to August 1944 and for saving Anne Frank’s diaries for posterity, received the Grand Decoration of Honour for services to the Republic of Austria.

Miep Gies was among a small group of people resisting the Nazi regime who provided daily supplies of food and other things to the Frank family and other inhabitants of the rear building. A close relationship developed between Miep, who was in her early thirties at the time, and Anne Frank, for whom Miep was one of the most important links to the outside world for more than two years. Among the helpers, Miep Gies is the last survivor that knew Anne Frank personally.

When the Gestapo discovered the eight inhabitants in the back rooms and removed them from their hiding place, Miep Gies and her colleague Bep Voskuil managed to save the diary with its many loose notes, keeping the manuscript in her desk drawer. Miep Gies never read the diary herself. Only when she was sure that Anne would never return did she hand it over to Anne’s father, Otto Frank, who was the only family member to survive the concentration camps. Meanwhile, Anne Frank’s diaries have been included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

From the sixties onwards, Miep Gies started to talk about what happened in the rear building, chiefly in schools at home and abroad, but also in documentaries and interviews in the media. Her reminiscences appeared in print in 1987. It is largely due to her that hundreds of millions of people are familiar with Anne Frank’s story.

As Miep Gies’s current state of health did not make it possible for her to travel to The Hague, the brief ceremony of handing over the award took place at her home.

Contact:
Austrian Embassy in The Hague
Postbus 96855
2509 JG the Hague
Telephone: (+31/70) 324 54 70 (office)
den-haag-ob(at)bmeia.gv.at
www.aussenministerium.at/denhaag