A Small Light

I finished watching A Small Light last night. It’s on National Geographic and Disney+. It follows the heroic story of Miep Gies and her husband Jan Giesm and others, who risked their lives to shelter Anne Frank’s family from the Nazis for more than two years during World War II.

I highly recommend A Small Light because it gives a different perspective on the Anne Frank story. However, I did have a few observations—not much criticism—but observances.

The actress Bel Powley who plays Miep Gies, starred in a movie a few years ago titled The Diary of a Teenage Girl I suppose you can all see a connection here—I often think that this is the type of diary Anne Frank would have written if the Nazis hadn’t occupied the Netherlands. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is about a 15-year-old girl who becomes sexually active. It might sound odd, but this is something that denied to Anne.

Another observation was one of the last scenes in A Small Light where Miep Gies confronted Karl Josef Silberbauer, the Gestapo officer who was in charge of the raid on the annexe. It appeared that he was slightly reluctant to arrest the Frank family and the others.

On 4 August 1944, Silberbauer was ordered by his superior, SS-Obersturmführer (Lieutenant) Julius Dettmann, to investigate a tip-off that Jews were being hidden in the upstairs rooms at 263 Prinsengracht. He took a few Dutch policemen with him and interrogated Victor Kugler about the entrance to the hiding place. Miep Gies and Johannes Kleiman were also questioned, and while Kugler and Kleiman were arrested and the young secretary Bep Voskuijl managed to escape with documents that would have incriminated the black market of the Secret Annex protectors, Gies was allowed to stay on the premises. She later surmised this was because she recognized and connected with Silberbauer’s Viennese accent.

I am not sure if he was reluctant, All that I have read of him is that he was an ardent Nazi.

Another observation made me think, and this is something I have mentioned before, that maybe the people in the annexe weren’t necessarily betrayed by a person, but perhaps by a noise they may have made themselves. August can be a hot month in Amsterdam, and they did have the windows open from time to time. The drama shows that, especially the younger ones in the annexe, could be rowdy sometimes.

All of this doesn’t matter because the bottom line is none of these people should have had to hide. To should have been allowed to lead their lives like any other human being, because that is what they were, human beings. Anne Frank’s story is a chilling reminder though on how truly evil and deplorable the Nazi ideology was.






Jan Gies-Miep Gies’s Husband

The saying goes “Behind Every Great Man There Is A Great Woman” but of course it can also be said that behind every great woman there is a great man.

The Anne Frank foundation said about Miep Gies’s husband. “Jan was not a person to stand in the limelight, not even amid all the publicity surrounding Anne Frank. He was throughout his lifetime a man of few words, but many deeds.”

Most of us will have heard about Miep Gies. But probably not so much about her Husband Jan Gies.

He was a member of the Dutch Resistance who, with his wife, Miep, helped hide Anne Frank, her sister Margot, their parents Otto and Edith, the van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer from Nazi persecution during the occupation of The Netherlands by aiding them as they resided in the Secret Annex. Helping Jews brought the risk of severe punishments, even death, if you were caught.

Jan met Otto Frank and his family through his fiancée, Miep Santrouschitz. From 1936 onwards, he would frequently visit them on Saturday afternoons, when the Franks invited friends and acquaintances. When Jews were no longer allowed to own or even rub businesses, Otto Frank was grateful for Jan’s help. Together with Victor Kugler, Jan founded the company Gies & Co. to take over Otto’s company Pectacon, and Jan took on the role of supervisory director. This was a way to keep Otto’s business safe from the Nazis and to avoid it to fall under the control of the Nazis.

Miep had been living in the Netherlands since December of 1920, she had always kept her Austrian nationality. However because Austria no longer existed due to its annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938, Miep tried to obtain the Dutch nationality in 1939 by writing a letter to Queen Wilhemina.

Jan and Miep married on July 16,1941. Otto Frank was a witness at their wedding and Anne accompanied him. Edith did not attend because both Margot and Grandmother Holländer were ill. The wedding celebrations took place at Otto’s business premises. On behalf of her family and the office staff, Anne presented them with a silver plate.

Jan became involved in the resistance during the war. Because of his work as a social worker , he could easily visit people and thus, for example, distribute illegal papers. His contacts also helped him to obtain distribution coupons, and securing British newspapers free from Nazi propaganda. The couple also hid a Jewish man in their own home, and Mr. Gies provided ration coupons to members of the underground resistance. All of these activities were punishable by death.

The exact nature of his work for the resistance is unclear. Jan kept quiet about it. During the war it was a matter of course that he could not talk about what he did, and after the war he did not feel compelled to discuss it in detail.

When Otto Frank arrived on Miep and Jan’s doorstep in the summer of 1945, he would continue to live with them until 1953. His wife Edith and daughters Margot and Anne had died in the camps. Miep who had found and kept Anne’s diary safe was able to give Anne’s diary to Otto , and he saw to it that they were published in 1947. Jan and Miep’s son Paul was born on 30 July 1950.

Otto Frank, Miep and Jan Gies with son Paul, January 1951, Amsterdam

They continued to live in Amsterdam until Jan passed away in 1993.Jan died on January 26,1993.

The date January 26 has a personal meaning to me and it also has a special meaning in the context of the Holocaust victims of the Netherlands. My mother passed away on January 26,1996, and the Dutch government issued a formal and official apology on January 26,2020, to the family of the Holocaust victims in the Netherlands.

Today marks the 116 the Birthday of Jan Gies, and I often wonder how many lives could have been saved if there had been more people like him and his wife.





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Hermine Santruschitz aka Miep Gies


The name Hermine Santruschitz will mean very little to most, however the name Miep Gies is a well known name, a name which would forever be linked to a teenage diarist called Anne Frank.

Miep Gies born  Hermine Santruschitz would have celebrated her 110th birthday today, she did not get that old but she still reached the age of 100.

She was born in Vienna on February 15,1909.Her parents Mathias and Genofeva (née Jakuschitz) Santruschitz sent her to Leiden in the Netherlands in 1920. Austria was stil suffering the consequences of World War 1, there were a lot of shortages including food.

The Netherlands had remained neutral during WWI and was reasonably affluent. Hermine was sent to The Nieuwenburg family, consisting of 2 parents and 5 children. The The Nieuwenburg family initially agreed to take Hermine in foster care for 6 months, but due to bad health this was extended to one year. In that time Hermine got very attached to the family and the decision was made for Hermine to remain with the family. They called her by the shortened version of her name Miep.

In 1922 Miep moved with her foster family to Amsterdam.Miep was a bright student and after  graduating high school she got a job as an accountant.

In 1933, Otto Frank had been appointed Managing Director of Opekta, a German company which had expanded into the Netherlands.


In need of a secretary the Dutch branch, headed by Otto Frank hired Miep in 1933.

In 1933 Miep gad also met Jan Gies but due the fact that Jan had to go into the Dutch Social Services, the couple didn’t meet socially again until 1936.

Jan and Miep became close friends yo the Frank family. Shortly after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, Miep was urged to  to join a Nazi women’s group. But she refused to do so, because of this threatened with deportation back to Vienna. Jan and Miep decided to get married, this would secure Miep’s residence in the Netherlands. They got married  in Amsterdam on 16 July 1941, The Frank family was in attendance at the wedding.


Less than a year later the lives of both the Frank and the Gies family would change forever. All of them faced death , the Frank’s simply because they were Jewish, Miep en Jan Gies for helping the Frank , the Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer , hide.

The fate of all those hiding in that little secret annex in an office in Amsterdam is well documented

Miep died on January 11,2010 aged 100.

An unassuming, immigrant foster child who became an icon for heroism.



I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.