Review: Anne Frank Remembered

Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family
Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold
Simon & Schuster Inc., New York, NY, 1987
ISBN: 0-671-66234-1

Review Copyright © 1998 Garret Wilson — August 4, 1998, 7:30pm

Hermine (a.k.a. Miep) Gies was one of main people who helped hide Anne Frank and her family in Amsterdam during World War II. Her book, Anne Frank Remembered tells the entire story as remembered by Miep.

“Miep” was the named used by Anne, and Miep follows most of the naming conventions Anne used in her diary, even though many of them are now unnecessary aliases. (Miep claims that “Gies” is her real last name (12), so “Santrouschitz” was apparently her maiden name, according to Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (8).) But this is not an in-depth examination of every minute detail of the Anne Frank story, but rather a step back from the story, a fresh look at Anne Frank that gives us an idea of what it was outside the “Secret Annexe.”

Miep does a good job of providing an idea of what it was like to be living in Amsterdam during German occupation, and the troubles and rewards of hiding Jews during World War II — in fact, Miep and her husband helped hide several Jews besides the Frank family. Miep therefore doesn’t really tell us more about Anne than we already knew, although we find out a little (only a little) more about what Miep thought about Anne.

The book is written on a very low literate level, which could be for several reasons. It’s probable that the book is meant as a companion to Anne’s Diary and that the simple language was thought appropriate for younger children. This would also give another explanation for the naming conventions matching those of Anne. On the other hand, the language Miep uses the most is Dutch, so the simple language could come from the author’s lesser familiarity with English. Indeed, in many places the phrasing seemed a bit stilted and unnatural. I’m not sure if this book was originally written in Dutch or English, but a coauthor (Alison Leslie Gold) apparently helped Miep write the book.

Miep comes across as a very sincere person, which is reflected in her prologue:

In some instances, more than fifty years have passed, and many details of events recorded in this book are half-forgotten. I have reconstituted conversations and events as closely as possible to the way I remember them. It is not easy to recall these memories in such detail. Even with the passing of time, it does not get easier (12).

This is to be expected in such a work, and it is refreshing that someone readily admits, in effect, that “for many reasons, including the passage of time, I may not have remembered something wrong and this story may have historical inaccuracies.” This can be seen when one reads the events of the Frank family capture, as described my Miep, and then examines the lists of inconsistencies in several witnesses’ testimonies regarding these events in Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, “The Betrayal” (28). Some errors of memory can be expected in situations such as this. Here again, Miep’s honesty and fairness shines through when she admits that, “Regardless of all the theories through the years, including several totally ridiculous ones, there was never any proof [about who betrayed the Frank family]” (252), even though it would have been easy to want to find someone to blame, proof or no proof.

If you are a teacher with a child in your class who has read Anne Frank’s diary and wants to know more, Anne Frank Remembered would be a good follow-up. Anyone can read the book to find out a little more about the conditions in Amsterdam during German occupation from a personal (and presumably mostly historically accurate) point of view, and the book is a very quick read. If you don’t have a lot of time and want something jam-packed with meaty facts that you don’t already know, you can probably safely save this one until later.