Excerpt from Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies, who helped to hide the Frank family, and me:

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Part III The Darkest Days

Chapter Fifteen

It was an ordinary Friday morning, August 4, 1944. First thing in the morning, I’d gone into the hiding place to get the shopping list. Lonely after the long night locked in together, my friends were hungry for a good visit. Anne, as usual, had many questions to ask and urged me to talk a little. I promised that I’d come back and sit and we could have a real talk in the afternoon when I returned with the groceries but conversation would have to wait until then. I went back to the office and got started with my work.

Elli Vossen and Jo Koophuis were working across from me in the office. Sometime between eleven and twelve o’clock, I looked up. There in the doorway stood a man in civilian clothes. I hadn’t heard the door. He was holding a revolver, pointing it at us. He came in. “Stay put,” he said in Dutch. “Don’t move.”

Then he walked toward the back office where Mr. Kraler was working leaving us alone. We were petrified.

Jo Koophuis said to me, “Miep, I think the time has come.”

Elli began to tremble and shake. Meanwhile, Mr. Koophuis’ eyes darted toward the doorway. No one but the man with the gun seemed to be about.

As soon as the man with the gun left our office, I  quickly took the illegal ration cards, the money, and Jan’s lunch out of my bag. Then I waited. It was about the time that Jan would come to lunch. After a very short time I heard the familiar sound of Jan’s footsteps on the stairs. Before he could come inside, I jumped up, ran to the door, opened it, grabbed him by the arm, and said, “Jan, it’s wrong here.”

After Jan left, Mr. Koophuis saw that Elli was very upset and was crying. He reached into his pocket and took out his wallet, handed it to Elli, and said to her, “Take this. Go to the drugstore on the Leliegracht. The owner there is a friend of mine. He’ll let you use the telephone. Telephone my wife and tell her what has happened and then disappear.”

Elli gave me a frightened look. I nodded my agreement with Koophuis. She took the wallet and dashed out the door.

Mr. Koophuis locked eyes with me and said, “Miep, you can also leave.”

“I can’t,” I responded. It was true. I couldn’t ….

…. Koophuis came to me, handed me the office keys, and said, “Miep, see to it that you stay out of it.”

I shook my head.

Jo Koophuis’ eyes burned into mine. “No. See to it you stay out of this. It’s up to you to save what can be saved. It’s in your hands.”

Then, before I could do anything but absorb his words, he squeezed my hand, then went to Kraler’s office, shutting the door behind him.

I had no idea  where he [the man with the gun] had gone. I had no idea what was going on in the rest of the house. I was in a terrible mental state. I felt as though I was falling into a bottomless hole. What could I do? I sat down. I was in shock.

Then, along the corridor past Mr. Kraler’s private office and our office, down the old wooden stairway, I could hear the sound of our friend’s feet. I could tell from their footsteps that they were coming down like beaten dogs.

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[Photos:

[Top: Anne Frank, 1931, age 2, before leaving Germany]

[Bottom: Otto Frank, the only member of the Frank family to survive the war revisiting the hiding place, 1960]