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A Small Light – The Incredible Story of Miep Gies and the People Who Helped Anne Frank’s Family

In this blog we will be shining ‘A Small Light’ on the new mini series recounting how Miep Gies helped those hiding with Anne Frank at 263 Prinsengracht.

Amsterdam 1942, WWII

It’s summer, July 1942. The Netherlands have been occupied by Nazi forces for just over two years. Everyone in the country is doing their best to get through what they hope is a short term situation. They’re keeping their heads down, trying not stand out and just getting on with every day life. Only life is hard, especially if you are of Jewish descent. All over the city, young Jewish people are receiving a letter, calling them up for forced labour in Germany…

  

The story of Miep Gies in A Small Light

In May, the much awaited mini series ‘A Small Light’ was released via the National Geographic Channel/Disney+. This 8 part series tells the story of Anne Frank, from the perspective of Miep Gies. Miep was a secretary to Anne’s father, and later one of the ‘helpers’. She assisted the 8 people whilst they were hiding in the secret annex.

Filmed on Location in Amsterdam

It’s a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Much of the filming took place last summer at various locations in Amsterdam. The first episode begins with the aftermath of one young Jewish girl receiving her call up letter.

 


Visit Amsterdam and feel the Jewish History

In our Anne Frank and Jewish History of Amsterdam tour, we discover how the Nazi occupation introduced draconian restrictions on Jewish life. This resulted in the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews to death-camps, which fractured and ultimately destroyed the historic Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam. 

Simple Acts of Resistance Against the Nazi Occupiers 

In the tv series, we meet members of the Dutch Resistance, and some of their stories are explored in our Jewish history tour. These stories include that of Willem Arondeous, the Dutch artist persecuted by the Nazis because of his sexuality. Arondeus was also one of the people behind the bombing of the civil registry office. Whilst on our tour, you can sample a piece of Arondeous’ favourite pie at the Plantage Cafe, which is on the site of the former records office.

Go Through the Bookcase into the Secret Annex

This tour also talks about Anne, the people in hiding and 263 Prinsengracht (the ‘secret annex’). If booked far enough in advance (we recommend 7 weeks), it also includes tickets to the Anne Frank House itself. This is for an unguided tour of the museum and you also go ‘behind the bookcase’ into the house Anne and the other 7 residents called home for over 2 years. 

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“Real strength is being able to carry on when times are hard”

We did our duty as human beings: helping people in need.”

Miep Gies

Experience Anne Frank’s Last Walk 

Our second tour, Anne Frank’s Last Walk, focuses on Anne, her family and the other residents of the annex. Many of the elements of this tour are touched upon in A Small Light. Over the course of the 90 minute walk, you will retrace the final part of the route Anne and her family took on their journey to the hiding place. 

Walking in Anne’s Footsteps Towards the Secret Annex

Throughout the tour, you’ll learn about the growing unrest in Germany as the Nazis took control and why Jewish people were forced to flee to other countries for safety. In A Small Light, you see how the gradual restriction of Jewish life led to isolation and separation from the rest of Dutch society, as slowly, by degrees, Jewish people were made second class citizens.

Anne Frank's Last Walk

Discover the Beautiful Princes Canal and Hear the Westerkerk Bells

As you walk along Prinsengracht, towards the hiding place, you pass by many locations that would have been familiar to Anne and her family. Including the beautiful ‘Princes canal’ and the 17th century Westerkerk, with the bells that chimed through the day and night, announcing the time to those in the annex.

‘Explore’ the Secret Annex with a Virtual Reality Simulation

At the end of this tour, you visit a cafe close to the Anne Frank House. Here you will ‘enter’ the hiding place via a virtual reality simulation. This simulation shows you how the house looked when the families were living there, and what you see is very similar to the sets used in A Small Light.

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National Geographic for Disney/Dusan Martincek

Discover Locations Used in a Small Light

Some of the locations featured in A Small Light can be visited on our ‘Amsterdam City Highlights and Hidden Gems’ tour, and our guides are happy to show you other sites relevant to that turbulent period in Amsterdam’s history. During the filming, the streets were filled with 1940s cars and the street furniture was changed to that period too.

In the words of Miep…

 ‘Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room.’

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