The main characters

Jan Gies

Jan Gies was Miep’s husband. Although he was not employed at Otto Frank's company, he was involved as a member of the Supervisory Board and was one of the helpers of the people in hiding. He could often be found in the Secret Annex and provided books and distribution coupons.

Jan met the Frank family through his fiancée, Miep Santrouschitz. From 1936 onwards, he was frequently present at Saturday afternoons, when the Franks invited friends and acquaintances. 

When Jews were no longer allowed to own 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, because with a Jewish owner (Otto Frank) it would have been placed under German supervision.

In the resistance

Jan and Miep married in the summer of 1941. Otto 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.

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 even after the war he did not think it necessary to discuss it in detail.

A restless night

On 5 July 1942, Hermann van Pels appeared on Jan’s doorstep. He told Jan and Miep that Margot had received a call-up and asked them to come to the Frank family home, to help them carry as many things to hiding place as possible. They went there immediately and took some things to the Secret Annex by way of their own house.

On 18 July, the people in hiding prepared a festive meal in the Secret Annex for Jan and Miep Gies, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. At Anne's insistence, Jan and Miep even stayed the night. Anne loved having the helpers close, but Jan and Miep did not sleep a wink.

‘Mr. Gies is happy and goes to sit on the divan or lean against the writing table. Newspaper, cup and usually the cat, beside him. If one of the three is missing, he is sure to protest.’

Lunch break in the Secret Annex

Like Miep, Jan frequently brought books for the people hiding in the Secret Annex. He often spent his lunch break with them as well. He would be served soup and dessert, if they had any. The people in hiding loved Jan’s visits and hearing the latest news from the city.

In 1943, in addition to caring for the people hiding in the Secret Annex, Jan and Miep Gies also hid someone at home. Kuno van der Horst, a student, had refused to sign a declaration of loyalty. All Dutch students had to promise not to resist the occupying forces. Anyone who did not sign the declaration, ran the risk of deportation to Nazi Germany. Jan and Miep offered him shelter until they felt that the risk became too great. They asked him to find another address. Kuno went back to his mother and survived the war.

‘Something is wrong here’

On 4 August 1944, it became clear that helping the people in hiding carried great risks. That Friday, Jan came to Prinsengracht 263 for lunch as usual. He found Miep waiting for him at the door. She gave him her bag. ‘Something is wrong here’, she said. That day, Dutch police officers, headed by SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Josef Silberbauer, raided the building. They arrested the eight people in hiding, as well as Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler. 

Jan quickly walked away. He went to the brother of Johannes Kleiman, one of the helpers, and together they decided to go back to see what was going on. From a safe distance, they saw how the people arrested were taken away.

Miep’s companion

Jan and Miep grieved when Otto Frank was the only one to return from the concentration camps after the liberation. They took him in and Otto lived with them for more than seven years. During that period, Jan and Miep’s son Paul was born.

Unlike Miep, Jan would always stay in the background when it came to Anne and the Secret Annex. He usually accompanied Miep when she was interviewed or told her story. He would jokingly refer to himself as the ‘prince consort’. Jan Gies died on 26 January 1993, 87 years old.