Heroes Remembered
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor

January, 2010

True Heroes Remembered

Krav Maga is about protecting people, it is about simply doing the right thing. Most of us are never put into a situation where we must risk our own lives to protect the lives of others. One such woman was Miep Gies of the Netherlands.

Recently, while teaching Krav Maga in Germany, someone said to me, "Anne Frank just died; I read it in the paper." This was of course a mistake; Anne Frank died in 1945 in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany. The person who in fact died was one of the women who helped keep Anne and her family alive for an extra 25 months, Miep Gies.

Flash back,

1940, 140,000 Jews live in the Netherlands, happy and content. The Nazis invade and conquer the region and it becomes illegal to keep Jews alive. In this insane world to help keep a Jew alive is a violation of the law, to kill a Jew is the accepted practice. This new law would lead to the fact that by the time the war is over, the Nazis are defeated and the Netherlands are free again, more than 90% of the Jews of Holland would be dead.

Today most regions of the Netherlands are, Judenrein, "Free of Jews"

More than 6 million Jews, plus millions of other "undesirables", Gypsies, homosexuals, the handicapped, mentality retarded, people with incorrect points of view, would be systematically murdered during this period of Nazi rule. The world, for the most part, would sit by and do nothing. The allies fought the German army but no one did very much to save the non-combatants who were being murdered.

Try to picture a million people, you can not, try to picture six million individuals and more, you can not. But one little girl, one little Jewish girl made the tragedy of the Holocaust understandable to millions of people around the world, and she did not even realize she was doing it.

Anne Frank, a 13 year old Jewish girl living in Amsterdam was targeted by the Nazis as a sub-human, a threat to society, who must be killed. Her father ran a business and asked one of his employees, Miep Gies, to help hide him and his family plus a few other people, in the factory. She readily agreed, seeing it as no more than her human obligation.

Anne Frank, 1941, Amsterdam, before she had to go into hiding.

On her 13th birthday Anne received a diary as a gift and began writing down the "events" of the day (not much going on as she was in hiding), and her thoughts.

When the Nazis discovered the hiding place and took them away, Miep gathered up Anne's scattered notebooks and papers and saved them. She did not read them, as she said, "Even a teenagers' privacy is sacred".

It is a good thing she did not read them, for had she read them she would have seen her and the other helpers' names in the writings and would have had to burn the diary as it contained evidence that could be used against her and her husband and the other kind helpers. The information in the diary would make her a criminal for helping keep Jews alive, and if it would be discovered she, her husband and their friends would have found themselves sent off to their deaths as well.

A page from Anne's Diary, found by Miep after the war

"This is a photo as I wish always to be...

What Anne did with her diary, which was published by her father, the only survival of the hideout place, was make the Holocaust understandable. One young girl, speaking in her own unique voice, telling about her life in hiding, telling of her hopes and dreams, her struggles and her desire to see the sun shine again and be outside.

To this people could relate. "The Diary of Anne Frank" was the first popular book about the Holocaust. It was translated into 65 languages and read by millions of people around the world. Daily visitors from all over the world come to visit the "Anne Frank house". While she was once so alone now she has so many visitors, she would have been thrilled.

The book is pure, from the heart of a child growing into a teenager but even today, despite mounds of evidence there are "Holocaust deniers".

Miep did not want to be seen as a hero, although she and her friends put their lives at risk for over two years, obtaining food illegally and hiding Jews in direct opposition to the "law". She did not want to be seen as a hero because caring for your friends should be seen as a normal human act, not something heroic.

But she was a hero.

Miep lived a long life devoted to doing good deeds. She was honored by Israel as a "Righteous Gentile", a special award given to non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jews.

She merited to live over 100 years old.

Rest well Miep, enjoy your heavenly rewards, I am certain you are now visiting with Anne, her sister Margo, and the others you helped. You are now in the world of truth.

Rest well Miep, rest well Anne.

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