Meip Geis

January 13th, 2010 by amy

I was sad to hear today that Meip Geis has died as she was a kind of personal hero of mine.

When I was a child my family told many stories about WWII in the Netherlands. My great-grandmother in Arnheim hid American airmen in a hiding space in her house during the occupation and my great uncle died in a concentration camp after being captured in a raid when visiting Jewish friends in the ghetto. My parents took us to see The Hiding Place – a movie which we were probably a bit too young to see, or at least I remember being more frightened and upset at watching it than anything previously in my life – about a Dutch family who hid their Jewish countrymen, were caught and taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp. When I was growing up these stories were an important part of the family identity and something I know which affected me deeply as I was creating my view of the world – the potential for evil and the potential for good.

Meip Geis was one of the people who risked their lives to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and who, after the Franks and others hiding in the space behind the bookcase were captured by the Nazis and taken away to concentration camps, found and saved Anne’s diary which has become one of the most important and moving books in Western Civilization.

I am stunned at the courage and determination that it must have taken to risk one’s life daily for years to help protect others as Meip Geis did, as others did, when struggling to just try to survive the war and occupation was such a tremendous battle.

“There is nothing special about me,” Gies wrote, “I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time.”

But she was special. She and her husband and others risked their lives every day for years – overcoming fear, the day-after-day grind and difficulty and effort, to do what was necessary, what was good. They scrounged extra food, clothing and supplies when all was terribly scarce in a time of almost unimaginable daily threat and fear. This is tremendous heroism – the modest but staggering strength of deciding the right thing to do and doing it no matter how difficult. This is what goodness is, what courage is and why I wanted to pause and think of and be grateful for all that Meip Gies and all brave protectors have done for us, the lessons they leave us.

— update 1/14/09
I heard the announcement that Meip Geis died on the radio, WCPE via the web. They played Barber’s Adagio for Strings in her memory and it was so lovely and so fitting I decided I wanted to keep the music and the note about her death together.

One Response to “Meip Geis”

  1. Mauro Says:

    Sad news. I saw her recently in a documentary, her attitude was so sincere and unpretentious. “I’m not a hero. I did what I had to do, nothing more”, she said. Those words made a lasting impression on me. True goodness indeed.

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