On this date seventy-three years ago, Anne Frank, her family, the van Pels family (known as the van Daans in her diary) and Fritz Pfeffer (known as Albert Dussel) were arrested by the Gestapo, having lived in hiding for two years, four weeks and one day. No one is sure to this day who provided the incriminating tip to the Gestapo, although several people have been suggested. I’ve written about Anne and her diary previously here.
Anne, her sister Margot, her mother Edith and father Otto, were all sent to Westerbork, and then on to Auschwitz. Edith died in Auschwitz. Margot and Anne were later sent Bergen-Belsen, where they both perished (Anne is believed to have died in late February 1945, although the exact date is unknown). Anne’s father, Otto, survived in Auschwitz.
A woman who played a large part in helping the Frank family et al to survive in hiding, and who miraculously saved Anne’s diary following her arrest, was Miep Gies. (I have written about Miep previously here). As Gies wrote in her fascinating memoir, Anne Frank Remembered: “On [the anniversary of] that day [August 4] too, Henk [her husband] and I stay home all day. We act as though the day were not happening. Neither of us will look at a clock all day. I stand at the window all through the day, and Henk, on purpose, sits with his back to the window. When we sense that it’s about five o’clock, that the day has passed, we experience a sense of relief that the day is finished.”
Gies died in January, 2010, age 100.
The other person who played a major role in the preservation of Anne’s diary, Judith Jones, died just two days ago, on August 2, 2017, age 93. It was she, as an editorial assistant in the Paris office of Doubleday, who was charged with writing the rejection letter for Anne’s diary. Instead, as she later wrote, she was struck by the photograph of the girl on the cover of an advance copy of the French edition. “I read it all day,” she noted. “When my boss returned, I told him, ‘We have to publish this book.’ He said, ‘What? That book by that kid?'” “I made the book quite important because I was so taken with it, and I felt it would have a real market in America. It’s one of those seminal books that will never be forgotten.”
Indeed, it never will be forgotten; Anne’s diary is now available in more than sixty languages. So on this day, as we remember Anne’s tragic life, we should also honor the lives and actions of Miep Gies and Judith Jones—three remarkable women.