This Monday marked the passing of Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group that hid Anne Frank and her family during the Holocaust. Gies, the Christian Dutch woman who died at age 100 after a fall, is credited with preserving Anne's diary and giving it to Anne's father, Otto (the only member of Anne's family to survive the death camps), after the Holocaust.
Reading about Gies's death reminded me of falling in love as a teenager with The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom's story of hiding Jews in Holland during World War II. Despite the horror within its pages, I read the book over and over, moved by ten Boom's incredible faith. "I would do that," I told myself as I read the book. "If I had lived then, I would have done exactly what her family did. I would not have stood silently by."
In college I cried my way through the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and attended a lecture by a woman who had been active in the movement to shelter Jews in Poland. I had impassioned conversations with friends about what we would have done, had we lived then. "We would have helped," we said. But what if such helping endangered our parents, our loved ones? Well, then we didn't know. We weren't quite sure. We hoped we would have found it within ourselves to do the right thing.
In graduate school I attended a screening of Into the Arms of Strangers and listened as one of the Kindertransport (refugees, mostly Jewish children, who were transported to the U.K. and taken in by families during the Holocaust) recounted her story. "I would have taken in those children," I said to my then-new husband. "But would you do that now?" he asked. "What if it meant the life of someone you loved? What if it meant me?"
Now, I read about Gies, quoted as ...1
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