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Corrie Ten Boom - Light In The Holocaust

Updated on November 7, 2009

Corrie Ten Boom - Light In The Darkness

Without a doubt, anyone who has heard the word "Holocaust" knows that it refers to one of the darkest times in history.  The stories that you hear are generally depressing and filled with only suffering and sheer hatred.  But this is the story of two women who were able to share light in one of the darkest concentration camps.  In this place were Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Betsie.

Holocaust - A Ray Of Home

"We must go everywhere, and tell everyone." There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still." Elizabeth Ten Boom ("Betsie") stared into her sister, Corrie's eyes with the pure love that she was.

Ravensbruck was one of the worst concentration camps in Germany. Fleas and lice were so thick that upon entering the bunkroom, one became swarmed in them. The stench of burning flesh from those that were murdered without warning was a constant stare into the face of death. The food was one half pound of bread and one half liter of soup per day. The work was so hard that the women had swollen legs and were losing circulation in no time.

To make matters worse, the women fought one another for everything. They cursed, pushed, and shoved each other. Even if someone was simply stepped on or bumped. Rarely donated clothes and blankets caused horrible uproars. The few nurses who had access to items such as soap, vitamins, and underwear charged prices such as a week's bread ration for undergarments, 25 gilders for soap, and two days' bread for any pills.

So Was There A Ray Of Hope In This Awful Place?

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

Betsie had been frail from birth and was so weak that she was staggering from the weight of a small pail filled with rocks. The guard laughed at her and imitated Betsie's walk. Some of the prisoners laughed as well. Her sister, Corrie, was astounded. Betsie, too, was laughing! "That is me all right," She said. "But you better let me keep going - any more and I will stop all together." The guard was enraged and began mercilessly whipping Betsie. She cried out repeatedly in pain, but her eyes were filled with compassion.

Corrie and Betsie had smuggled a Bible into the camp and traded it back and forth during the day. If the guards found one or caught anyone having meetings, they were to be executed. At first, the women held these meetings very timidly. But as the weeks wore on and no guards came into the bunkroom, they grew bolder. Corrie marveled at this.

Why was it that no guard came in?

Betsie excitedly told Corrie, "I found out for sure, Corrie. I overheard two guards. The guards will not set foot in the bunkroom because of the FLEAS! Thank God for the fleas!" she exclaimed. The women added that to their prayers daily.

The difficult prices for basic things, commodities that few consider of value, remained the same. But the ray of hope was changing something else. Instead of shoving, clawing, pushing, kicking, or cursing each other, the women were responding with "Sorry! That's okay! No harm done! Excuse me please!" What a change this ray of hope brought in by two women had made.

But How Had Such Gentle Souls Found Themselves Here?

Corrie and Betsie lived with their father, Casper, in Harlem Holland. Casper was a watchmaker and a man of great wisdom. His heart was kind. He was an abundant giver to all in need and well respected in all of Harlem. It was he who went in line and got a star, although he was not Jewish. A Jew in line became angry with him. He replied simply: "If we would all wear them, no one would know the difference between Gentile and Jew."

The Ten Boom house had seven rooms. The roof was right outside Corrie's bedroom window. This was where the "secret room" used to save the lives of hundreds of Jews was hidden. Casper, Corrie, and Betsie took in even the high risk occupants, such as babies and the elderly with breathing problems. They turned no one away.

It was critical to have constant drills, because they never knew when a raid would come. Bedding had to be turned over. No warm spots were to be felt. Others in the house must not be suspected. All waste baskets had to remain empty and trash had to be burned. Food plates must be taken with the people into the secret room, and no food was to be spilled. Can you imagine all this done in under two minutes?

Casper, Betsie and Corrie were arrested and drilled with the same questions over and over again. Corrie was especially drilled by a young, intelligent Lieutenant. He tried to get to her by offering comforts, sitting her in a cozy chair next to a warm fire. Corrie was also very ill at the time, so you better believe that fire felt very good in contrast to her stone cold, lonely cell. The Lieutenant continued to probe, "Tell me about your OTHER work."

"Oh, you mean my work with retarded children?" she would respond. "How we taught them about God in our Bible class."

"Where is your secret room? Where are the Jews?"

"We have no secret room." Corrie was steadfast. No matter how hard and cleverly the guard tried, not one of them ever revealed that there were people in hiding.

Papa - What Is It Like To Die?

Casper Ten Boom was so feeble that he was almost not able to climb into the carriage that took them to the prison. Seeing this, the guard who arrested them said: "Ten Boom, give me your word you will behave yourself, and you can die in your bed, old man, where you belong."

Casper met his cold gaze with an unblinking look. "If I stay behind, I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help."

Shortly after, the family was split apart. "God be with you Papa," the girls called out as he was being dragged away from them, and they from him. "And with you, my daughters." This was the last time they ever saw him.

Casper died, taking ill only ten days after being imprisoned. He was denied medical treatment, and his body was thrown into a pauper's grave.

When given the news of her father's death, Corrie pictured in her mind one of the times where her father's faith and wisdom gave her great peace. Her mother had taken her sister, Nollie, and her with her to comfort a friend who had just lost an infant to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Corrie was really struck by the cold, lifeless body that was clearly in sight. You see, in that culture death was a fact they didn't try to hide.

When he was tucking her into bed that night, Corrie asked: "Papa, what is it like to die?"

Papa Ten Boom did not look away from her, but held his gaze into her eyes. "When we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"

Corrie considered this well before answering. "Just before we get on the train."

Still holding his steady gaze, he said to her: "When the time comes, your Heavenly Father will give you all the strength you need."

Free Before The New Year

Corrie sometimes was very tempted to hate all the cruel men around her, particularly the guard who made life extra hard for them. Betsy constantly told her, "No hate, Corrie. Don't look at it. You know you can only give it to Jesus."

The horrible conditions were weakening Betsie's already feeble body. But the weaker she became physically, the stronger her faith became. It did not take long for her to be excused from work, only waiting for her temperature to reach the required admission level - 104 degrees - And then she must wait for a bed to become available.

Betsie began to talk about a plan. "There has to be a plan, Corrie. We must go everywhere and tell everyone. They will believe us, because we were here. There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."

Betsie saw a vision and described it to Corrie. In it was a concentration camp - not the one where they were, but another - becoming a place of refuge for all who had endured as they had, that they might be free. She also described an elaborate house, much bigger than the one she and Corrie grew up in, that would be used for the same purpose. And she saw in the vision that both of them would be free before the New Year.

Betsie died in the hospital before the New Year.

Corrie was released very shortly after, also before the New Year. She found out that just one week after her release, all the women her age were taken to the gas chambers.

Corrie commented later: "When they called out 'Prisoner 66730, Ten Boom Cornelia,' I did a double-take. I hadn't been called by my name in so long."

Can You Believe It?

Corrie later learned that her release came through a "clerical error." She was not supposed to get released at all.

Corrie went into over 60 countries and fulfilled both of Betsie's visions. She told her story to anyone who would listen.

This light that they brought with them is Jesus.

His love gave Corrie what it took to forgive that nasty guard who harassed Betsie and her while they were naked in that freezing shower. The same man who beat Betsie mercilessly. She was able to forgive that man only because of Him.

The Ten Boom Home

Holocaust Removed from the Curriculum?

We know from history that when General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, found the victims of the death camps, he ordered staff to take all the photographs they could. He also ordered that the German people from the surrounding villages be taken to see the camps and even made to bury the dead. He said he did this to "get it all on record now - to get the films, get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some **** will get up and say that this never happened."

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is

for good men to


nothing" Edmund Burke


This week, the UK removed the Holocaust from it's

school curriculum

because it "offended" the Muslim population because

they say it never


This is a frightening portent of the fear that is

gripping the

world and

how easy each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years since the 2nd. World

War in Europe


This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in

memory of the 6


Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and

1,900 Catholic


who were murdered, massacred, raped, starved, burned

and humiliated


German and Russian people looked the other way!

Now more than ever, with Iran among others,

claiming the Holocaust

to be

a myth, it is imperative to make sure the world never


This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people

worldwide! Be a


in the memorial chain and help distribute this around

the world.

Don't just delete this, it will only take a minute

to pass it on...

One Nation Under God

Ex-HM1/USN-USS Exultant (MSO-441) 1967-68 (Boy Nothing) "My sins, oh

the bliss, of this glorious thought, my sins not in part but the

whole-are nailed to the cross and I bear them no more, Praise the Lord,

Praise the Lord, oh my soul".

Please Share Your Thoughts On Corrie Ten Boom and the Holocaust - Constructive comments only, please.

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      During the mornings, we'll take advantage of the cooler temperatures and participate in outdoor activities such as water-play and hiking.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      7 years ago

      Corrie ten Boom has been one of my heroes for a very long time. May God give me the grace to do a tenth of what she has done.

    • AslanBooks profile image


      9 years ago

      One of my heroines of the Faith!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love Corrie ten Boom! I am reading her collection of devotions called " Messages of GOD'S Abundance." What a beautiful Lady! Thank you for this lens to let others be encouraged by her!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for this.

      It is always empowering to read true stories of motivated people of integrity, who put their principles first.

    • sdrury123 profile image


      10 years ago

      I read The Hiding Place when I was 14 and it moved me to tears. Corrie Ten Boom was an amazing woman. Great lens. Make more like this one! : )

    • JamesThomasCalho profile image


      11 years ago

      It is so great that she has not been forgotten. Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      This woman is one of the truly inspirational highlights of humanity! Beautiful lens and wishing I could offer more than 5 stars! Blessings to you, Skye :o-)

    • amandascloset0 profile image


      11 years ago

      Five stars for sure on this one. Thank you so much for sharing this. Im going to lenseroll this.

      Thank you for sharing this, I never knew of this particular story before reading this.

      God Bless

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      11 years ago

      Thank you so much! I have never heard of her before. She is the personification of what Victor Frankl wrote about. Even the clerical error. I love this important lens!

      Thanks so much

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      11 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      5 stars from a fan.

      I have featured your lens in my featured lens module:


      Corrie ten Boon Life

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Dear God and Sweet Jesse how kind

      to write about this great woman

      a true Angel and a wittiness to

      the Nazi crimes. Thanks for a

      great lens

    • rwoman profile image


      11 years ago

      What an inspiring story!

    • Guinness LM profile image

      Guinness LM 

      12 years ago

      Hi Rena! I keep coming back here because this story touches me so. Corrie and Betsy were both free before the New Year - I hope readers will be free from bondages with this New Year, too! Hey, Squidoo keeps losing your picture of Corrie at the top of the lens! I reported it for you, but no one knows

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 

      12 years ago

      I have read a little book about Corrie Ten Boom. She was an amazing woman and God definitely used her (and continues to use her story). I have a lens about Lottie Moon--check it out. 5*s--great job!!! God bless you! <>

    • Guinness LM profile image

      Guinness LM 

      12 years ago

      Casper's statement to Corrie helps many overcome fear of the unknown, of death- "Your Heavenly Father will give you all the strength you need." Thanks for sharing these rays of hope and light from the depths of the Holocaust. Best Dog Health Care

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Rena taught that Corrie's mother was the caregiver for her aunts who had strokes. Then Corrie became the primary caregiver for her mother post-stroke. And Corrie died of stroke. We have a heart for caregivers - The Best Home Health Care Ever


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