Anne Frank Remembered: Review
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
” ‘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 only links 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.