By STEPHANIE GARCIA
In the wake of the Second World War, the Gestapo uncovered a secret annex concealing a group of Jewish families. As the residents were carried off, a diary that would inspire generations to come was left behind; that story, written by a 15-year-old Jewish girl, became known as The Diary of Anne Frank.
A question one might ask is how Anne Frank and her family survived two years in the secret annex.
The answer is Miep Gies, a courageous woman who not only assisted eight people in hiding but was also responsible for releasing Anne’s story to the world.
Senior Taylor Gies is related to this woman who risked her life in the mist of social persecution.
“The Holocaust is a low point for people of German decent because you don’t know what role your relative played. When I discovered that my relative helped hide Anne Frank and her family and that she was the secretary of Anne’s father, it gave me a better perspective for my future to see what good I could do,” Gies said.
After reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Gies discovered that she was related to Miep through her grandfather. Proud of her personal ties to World War II, Gies did reserach on Miep and re-read Anne’s story with a new perspective.
“After knowing I was related to [Miep Gies], Anne Frank’s story opened my eyes to how important your morals are and how far your morals can take you,” Gies said.
When completing projects and assignments on the Holocaust, Gies feels a connection to her cousin, Miep Gies. To gain more knowledge, Gies has visited Holocaust museums in Maitland, FL, and Washington, D.C. In the seventh grade, Gies went to Holland and saw Anne Frank’s place of hiding; she describes the experience as “remarkably surreal.”
After the war ended, Miep helped the Frank family even further. In June 1945, Anne’s father, Otto Frank was the only surviving family member and upon returning to Holland, lived with Miep and her family.
Eager to comfort the grief-stricken father, Miep presents Otto Frank with Anne’s diary; it is published two years later, and within the 50 years of its publication, the diary is read by millions worldwide in over 100 languages, according to cbsnews.com.
While Miep Geis remained in Germany until her death in 2010, the rest of the Geis family moved to the states after the war.
Though Taylor’s nuclear family never met Miep, her father, Kurt Gies, hopes to display the same type of bravery and is honored to consider her a part of the family.
“During that time, it would’ve taken a lot to put your life on the line. As a dad, I hope that I would respond in a similar way,” Gies said.
When thinking of Anne’s story, one cannot forget the ordeals faced by thousands of other
Jewish families. Next month celebrates Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 12; the poignant holiday is a time to commemorate a tragic event that must be remembered.
“If we would have stood up to Hitler sooner, six million people would not have been executed. The Holocaust was catastrophic but it has raised people’s awareness. It has caused people to stand up to those aggressors that threaten lives,” Gies said