Elderly watchmaker, Casper ten Boom and his middle-aged spinster daughters, Corrie and Betsie, lived a quiet life in Haarlem, Netherlands at the time of the Nazi invasion in 1940. The ten Booms joined the Dutch resistance and built a hiding place in their home for Jews sought by the Gestapo, a stop on a twentieth century “underground railroad”, manned by Gentiles who would not bow to the occupying force.
It is estimated that 800 Jews were housed, fed and moved to safety through this family’s efforts, until they were betrayed in February 1944 and subsequently imprisoned, first in a local jail and ultimately in concentration camps.
Corrie ten Boom survived Ravensbruck and told her story in gripping detail in The Hiding Place, co-authored by Elizabeth and John Sherrill, first published in 1971 and reprinted in 2006 by Chosen Books in a 35th Anniversary edition.
Casper ten Boom, Corrie’s father, was a man of 84 at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. He was truly remarkable – a compassionate and uncompromising Christian who took heroic measures to save Jews in the face of great pressure to mind his own business.
Corrie recounts this excerpt of the interrogation her father’s underwent after his arrest:
“The Gestapo chief leaned forward. I’d like to send you home old fellow,’ he said. ‘I’ll take your word that you won’t cause any more trouble.’
I could not see father’s face, only the erect carriage of his shoulders and the halo of white hair above them. But I heard his answer.
‘If I go home today,’ he said evenly and clearly, ‘tomorrow I will open my door again to any man in need who knocks.’” (The Hiding Place)
In The Hiding Place, heart wrenching reality mixes with hard won faith to inspire the reader.
The State of Israel honored Corrie ten Boom for service to the Jewish people by issuing her an invitation to plant a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum near Jerusalem. http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/
A worthwhile tribute to Corrie ten Boom is found on the following blog: https://unexpectedincommonhours.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/corrie-ten-boom-i-remember-you/
This amazing survivor traveled the globe speaking about God’s love and the power of forgiveness, often accompanying Dutch countryman, Brother Andrew whose story is told in God’s Smuggler also co-authored by Elizabeth and John Sherrill. She authored more than 25 books before her death on April 15, 1983 at the age of 82.
In the final pages of the Hiding Place, Corrie issued this challenge and encouragement:
“And so I discovered that it is not on our own forgiveness any more than on our own goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When he tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.” (The Hiding Place)
Keeping the inspiring story alive in the 21st century, volunteers give free tours of the ten Boom house in Haarlem, Holland only thirty minutes by train from the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.