Miep Gies died today at 100 years old. Who is she you ask? I didnt know either until I read her obituary at CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/11/obit.miep.gies/index.html) In my opinion she is one of the most important people of the 20th Century. Is she a hero? If you asked her that question she would vehemently say no. But every hero I have ever heard asked that same exact question says the same thing:
Gies was among a team of Dutch citizens who hid the Frank family of four and four others in a secret annex in Amsterdam.
Yes, that Frank family. Anne Franks family.
That alone would have made her important and if she stopped at doing just that very dangerous and difficult deed we might not have known her or Anne Frank. But she went even further.
When the Gestapo showed up and took Anne, her family, the four others hiding out and two people who helped Gies hide them, the Gestapo left behind all of Annes papers. Those papers turned out to be Annes diary. Gies took the papers and hid them. She didnt read them for fear of what they might contain but kept them nonetheless.
After the war Otto Frank, Annes father, was the only survivor of the group taken away and he returned to Amsterdam. Gies gave him Annes diary and Otto published it in 1947 under The Secret Annex. Later it would be known as The Diary of Anne Frank and would be required reading in schools all over the world.
In the darkest time of the 20th century, when the most evil deeds were done to people, Miep Gies was a light in the darkness. She and her helpers risked not only their deaths but the deaths of all their families doing what she thought was right. Then when it all went wrong she had the foresight to hide the Diary of Anne Frank so the world could know the fear and anguish of a 14 year old girl. Without Miep Gies we would not have been able to read one of the most important books of the 20th century. Without Miep Gies we would not know Anne Frank and what was done to her. And the world needed to know Anne Frank so it, so we, could make sure those things would never happen again.