Thursday, May 29, 2008

Anne Frank Remembered - Miep Gies

Title: Anne Frank Remembered
Author: Miep Gies
Date Finished: May 29, 2008
Yearly Count: 28
Pages: 252

It has been so long since I have read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl that I could only remember a few of the details. I don't even actually remember reading it (I think I must have been in 7th grade), but many of us are familiar with Anne's story of her life in hiding for two years.

While this book suggests a remembrance to Anne, it is more specifically Miep's own story of courage and survival as she helped the Franks into hiding in German-occupied Holland during World War II. While working for Otto Frank in the early 1930s, Miep also became his confidant as life became more and more difficult for the Jewish population in Amsterdam. Eventually, Frank asked Miep and her husband Henk to help hide his family and eventually another family (altogether eight people) in the cramped upper level living quarters of Frank's business.

Over the course of more than two years, Miep and her husband Henk provided sustenance, safety, and above all friendship to the families they kept in hiding. As I was reading this book, I was struck by Miep's undying compassion and courage to do unthinkable things--putting her life at risk to helps those around her whose lives were also in such grave danger. I simply cannot fathom the things that these people had to live through. Things that people are currently living through. This book broke my heart, but at the same time the strength of all of those who resisted the cruelties of the Nazis showed such hope for mankind.

Miep's writing style is effortless and flowing; she has the natural voice of a storyteller, which made this book absorbing. My grandmother has a beautiful accent (she is Swiss but also studied in France and England before moving to Toronto after the war--so her accent is a little mixed), and I could hear her voice through Miep's writing. Soft but at the same time urgent:

"As I sat, I became aware of what it meant to be imprisoned in these small rooms. As this feeling registered, I felt a taste of the helpless fear that these people filled with, day and night. Yes, for all of us it was wartime, but Henk and I had the freedom to come and go as we pleased, to stay in or go out. These people were in a prison, a prison with locks inside the doors" (128).

My only regret about this book is in the ending. It seems as though Miep isn't quite sure how to end such an important story and so the last few pages are a little forced and awkward. Otherwise, this was such a powerful and important read. There are only little bits and pieces about Anne in the book, so it really makes me want to re-read Anne's diary. In addition to this book, I'd also recommend The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom--also a woman who helped in the Dutch Underground during WWII.

30 comments:

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I've never heard of this one, and with my WWII kick that I've been on lately, I think I'll look into this one. Books like this make me so appreciate of my life and my freedoms. I think we all need a good reminder once in a while.

chica said...

I read Diary of Anne Frank when I was about the same age as Anne frank was when she wrote it. No doubt it left a deep impression on my mind. I really feel like reading this book after your review.

Trish said...

*Natasha - It reminded me a lot of The Hiding Place--although the ending was a little different in each. This book was actually required reading for my sister in high school--I "borrowed" her copy since I hadn't read it before. I hope you get a chance to read this one.

*Chica - It has been years and years since I read Anne's Diary, so it would be interesting to go back and compare these two books. I think for the most part the Franks were a little bit sheltered from what was actually happening in Holland during the time of their hiding--Miep and Henk really censored the news they gave for morale. Although sometimes NOT knowing creates worse fear. I'd recommend this one--it provides an important perspective.

Joy said...

Can't say I remember ever seeing this book, but have read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and The Hiding Place. I actually listened to an audio of Corrie Ten Boom. All I remember is that she talked a lot and it was fascinating to actually hear her. I don't remember it being an interview. ???

Jeane said...

I never heard of this one either, but I have read Anne Frank- several times. It would be interesting to read the story, through the eyes of Miep and Hank. So I will look out for this one.

Dar said...

I read the Diary of Anne Frank just a few years ago and it is just such a deep and emotional story. I had wondered about this book and noticed that you were going to read and review it, so I was waiting. Your review has made my decision for me, I want to read it. It's so hard to fathom living the life that they had to live, completely heartbreaking. At the same time, the strength and courage of this family and the people that helped them just amazes me and also makes me thankful for the freedoms I enjoy as Natasha says above.

Nymeth said...

How come I didn't know about this book? I must read it! Thanks for the beautiful review, Trish.

Trish said...

*Joy - I bet it would be fascinating to hear Corrie Ten Boom speak about her experience--neither books are interviews...so I'm not sure what you mean by your question. :)

*Jeane - I'm so surprised how few have heard of this one. Yes, this would be a great companion to Anne's diary!

*Dar - All I could think about while reading this book is--these people actually went through these horrible things. This isn't a story--their fear was real. I can't imagine at all. I highly recommend this one.

*Nymeth - I can't believe how many people haven't heard of this book--although if not for my sisters reading it in school I probably wouldn't have either. I hope you read it--it is a very moving and inspiring story.

Joy said...

I don't remember the audio I heard being an interview. It was a long, long time ago. :) I can't image that she just sat somewhere and talked, so I assume it was some sort of interview. lol

Joy said...

Geez...that would be *imagine*! I have made so many blunders lately and they all have been on your blogs. So sorry, Trish.

Literary Feline said...

Anne Frank's story touched me very deeply when I first read it as it did many others. I am surprised I haven't come across Miep's book because I definitely think it is something I want to read.

I second the recommendation that people read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It was also a very moving story.

Trish said...

*Joy - For some reason I was thinking you meant you listened to The Hiding Place and thought it was an interview. Silly me--I understand now. :) And you know what, if you hadn't pointed out the mistake, I would have never noticed. I think sometimes your brain will autocorrect because I read "imagine" the first time. ;)

*Lit Feline - I'm glad I've been able to put this book "out there" even if just a little. I just assumed that people had heard of it--especially given Anne's notoriety. I hope you are able to find this one--it is an amazing and heartbreaking story.

Laura said...

It has only been about 3 years since I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and I actually remember it! I would be very interested to read Miep's story. Yet another book to add to the long list I want to borrow from you at some point! :)

Trish said...

*Laura - I can't believe how many people haven't heard of this book, so I've been thinking about getting a copy to giveaway. I don't think you saw my copy--but my sister and her friend wrote all over the book in pink highlighter, so I'm a little embarrassed to lend it out--and don't even really want to keep it in my library. My stepsister has a copy at the lakehouse, though, that I can probably get for you. ;)

Jeanette said...

One of my favorite books! I read this years and years ago. Probably 6th or 7th grade. I read it right after I read Anne Frank's diary and it started me on a several years long journey of studying and reading all I could about the Holocaust and WWII. I need to track down a copy of this and read it again. I remember writing a letter to Miep Gies after reading the book but I don't think I ever sent it.

Bookfool said...

I've been thinking I'd like to read more about Anne Frank since reading The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank and I'm glad to see you think this particular book is worth the time. Thanks!! BTW, I'd definitely second The Hiding Place as a favorite WWII account. I actually wrote to Corrie ten Boom and got a lovely reply, while she was still living.

Trish said...

*Jeanette - I'm glad you remember this one fondly. I'm trying to track down a clean/used copy to giveaway, but so far all I can find are ones highlighted by students. I'd love to pass my copy on, but I borrowed it from my sister and hers is heavily marked as well. I did pick up Anne Frank's diary yesterday, though, I'm I'm looking forward to revisiting it.

*Bookfool - I definitely think this one is worth the time. I'm trying to remember Corrie's book and I'm not sure that this one is as well written as hers, but the message is still powerful. How wonderful about the response--I'm sure it is a letter to treasure.

Debi said...

Thanks for the beautiful review, Trish! Can you believe I've never even read Diary of a Young Girl?!! I know...unforgivable. I should go dig it out of my daughter's bookshelves right this minute. And then, I'd definitely love to get my hands on this one.

bethany said...

I have heard of Miep Gies, but only because of the movie Freedom Writers! I didn't know this book was even out there! Great review, you really did a good job with it, made me want to grab my coat and keys and GO GET IT!!

Happy OT reads, I love seeing what you are reading!

Trish said...

*Debi - This one was required reading for my sisters, not sure why I didn't have to read it. I did read Anne Frank, but it has been probably 15 years so I picked up a copy last weekend--looking forward to reading it again. Hope you can find a copy of her diary!

*Bethany - Ya, when I was telling hubby what I was reading I used the reference to Freedom Writer's as well and got a big "ooooh ya" from him. :) The OT has been such a great experience and I'm glad you're hosting!!

Amanda said...

What an interesting book! I didn't know this was out there. I'd definitely be interested in reading it. :)

Nicola said...

This sounds wonderful and I think it would be interesting to read Anne's diary back to back with this.

michellekae said...

I absoulutely love reading about WWII and love learning about the Holocaust's. I will definately read this one. I have not heard of it before, but would love to read it!

thekea said...

Last October I went to a genocide conference here in Montreal. It was pretty interesting but rather dry and dull at some points.
Seeing Romeo Dallaire speak was definitely intense and moving though.
Then there were the speeches and panels throughout the day. Interesting but almost...just that. Interesting. Just a bunch of really intelligent beings sort of talking back and forth. Famous authors, important government officials, the works.
But the most amazing and most vivid memory of the conference is when we were introduced to survivors of genocide. From Rwanda, from Cambodia, and a woman from Poland.
The woman from Poland, could not speak English, she was very old and being at that conference was the first time she had ever left Poland. She spoke about her experiences during the Holocaust and though she needed a translator it was all clear in her eyes.
Everything was in their eyes, their voices, their movements. The lasting pain of course, but also their immense courage. Their stories were amazing. Their stories were horrifying and so sad but they were also so inspiring and belittling when comparing my own problems to what they went through. It was amazing to listen to. And it was probably the most successful part of the conference. That's what's needed, for more people to hear and see what these people went through and for their stories to go on, because it's the most important reminder.
Fancy speeches and complicated talk won't do much good if the general public isn't engaged and couldn't care less.
The stories, the stories we care about. Because everyone has their own story and everyone can understand a story no matter who they are. Big, small, little, tall, poor, rich, whatever skin color, whatever religion.

And.... that's it for me!

thanks for this review.
it's so important for stories like these to continue on. Because we can never ever forget.
If we forget, it will all certainly happen too soon again.

Trish said...

*Amanda - This is a very worthwhile read. It was assigned reading for my sister in high school--but otherwise I would have never heard of it.

*Nicola - I think the two would pair very nicely together. This is a different kind of story as it shows the outside workings of those helping the Franks, but it also give a lot of insight into the life of Anne while she was in the Annex.

*Michelle - I stole this book from Kim--I steal a lot of her books (and Brooke's). I wasn't in honors in high school so I missed out on a lot of things that were required for them. It is definitely a worthwhile book.

*Thekea - Wow, what an experience. I remember in grade school Holocaust survivers coming to the school to speak with us, but I don't think we could completely understand when we were that young. It frightens me to think that something like this could happen again, but on the other hand genocide is still occuring all over the world. These things are things that I will NEVER understand...but yes, I absolutely agree that we need to hear the stories and keep remembering (or in my case learning) what has happened in the past and what is currently going on in the world. Thanks for all of your thoughts.

Ashlee and Shane said...

Oh pick me pick me! :) I haven't heard of this one and would love to read it! :)

Ashlee and Shane said...

Oh pick me pick me! :) I haven't heard of this one and would love to read it! :)

thesilentphilosopher said...

I've always loved the Diary of Anne Frank. I read it when I was about the same age as her, and I remember being able to relate to many of her thoughts and experiences. Then a little while ago I reread it and it was like reading one of my old journals! Very eerie.

Mistress Meeyee said...

Such a sad story! I have always been saddened by the victims of the holocaust and what they went through.

Anna said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention! I'm always looking for good books involving WWII and the Holocaust. I haven't read Anne Frank's diary since middle school! I should re-read it as well!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric