The Hiding Place
Corrie ten Boom
This autobiography is about a Dutch woman who grew up and lived in Holland during the Nazi occupation.
The drawing on the left is a picture of the watch shop which the ten Boom family owned and operated. It was the place where many Jews and members of the Dutch resistance hid, where they were protected and helped to escape. Thus, it was called The Hiding Place. Because a watch shop could have many customers in a day, people could come and go freely.
When Corrie was growing up, her father owned and operated the shop, and Corrie subsequently became the first licensed female watchmaker in Holland.
Corrie has been my hero for many years.
The drawing is used under the Fair Use Doctrine, for educational purposes.
Growing Up Helping People
and helping people escape
Corrie was raised in a Christian home where her father actively taught the children to love Jesus and live a Christian life. They were members of the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church.
Corrie and her family were actively involved in helping the needy (especially young people who needed guidance) for many years before the Nazis took Holland. Corrie ran a number of girls' clubs in Haarlem. One of the people she helped was a young disabled girl. After the Nazis came, the grateful father once asked Corrie how many additional ration cards she needed, knowing that Jews could not get them, and she would supply the Jews. She asked for a hundred. The man gave them to her, and she gave them to all the Jews she knew.
Later, a small room about the size of a wardrobe was built on the back of Corrie's bedroom. It was hidden behind a bookcase that moved, in a wall with a facade. The hollow place could not be detected by knocking on the wall. This is where the Jews hid whenever it was necessary. Otherwise, they lived with the family and were served kosher food. The family also observed the Sabbath on their behalf. There was a buzzer that allowed people in hiding to have sufficient warning to go hide in the tiny room. Many Jews escaped through this help. Resistance workers also were hidden there. It would hold about six people.
The photo is widely circulated.
Arrest and Imprisonment
Eventually, in 1944, the Nazis arrested the entire ten Boom family. As a result of imprisonment, four family members died. Eventually, several of them were taken to the infamous RavensbrÃ¼ck concentration camp. I remember one particularly touching scene from The Hiding Place where Corrie's sister Betsie was in the hospital of the prison (where she died shortly thereafter), and in which Betsie forgave all of the people who persecuted the family. She also thanked God for the fleas in the prison, because as a result of the fleas, the guards wouldn't come into their cell, and they were not abused.
One of Corrie and Betsie's favorite sayings was, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."
Corrie was released through a clerical error, a week before all female prisoners her age were executed. She used to say, "God does not have problems. Only plans."
Corrie ten Boom's books
Corrie ten Boom wrote three books that I know about. They are available on Amazon.
The Hiding Place
The very first book I read by Corrie ten Boom, it really struck a chord in my heart.
In My Father's House
This book is about Corrie's growing-up years.
Tramp for the Lord
Corrie's adventures spreading the Gospel after the end of the Nazi regime. That book was a little strange to me, although I am aware that people who endure persecution often have some views I have trouble with. Still, it was interesting reading.
The Hiding Place has been made into a movie.
What It Was Like
Personal testimony of a friend
It is difficult to picture just how inhumane the Nazi camps were. But I got a vivid description from a friend of mine, and I will share that with you.
Vickie grew up in Ukraine and was raised as an atheist. During WWII, the Germans put a lot of people into work camps. They were needed because of the many Germans who were killed in the war. Vickie's family was captured by the Russians and turned over to the Germans, and she told me her story. She said they had almost nothing to eat. Because she was young, she learned to speak perfect German. When she spoke to the guard in German, it made the guard angry.
One day, a guard brought her a breakfast plate laden with food: ham, eggs, all sorts of good things. The guard instructed her to take the plate to the apartment of the chief of the guards, and warned her, the woman there knows exactly what is on the plate, so don't dare eat any of it. So she went to the apartment. It was huge and lavishly furnished. The woman took the plate of food and offered it to her small dog. The dog wasn't interested in the food, so the woman flushed it all down the toilet in Vickie's presence.
While my friend was in the work camp, she was befriended by a Christian couple who showed her love, and just lived in a very loving way toward her. Eventually, Vickie's resentful heart melted, and she became a Christian. She subsequently immigrated to the United States, and became a citizen. She spent her working years on various assembly lines, with so much work output she kept several workers after her busy. When they tried to organize a labor union, she opposed it, saying, "You don't know what labor unions are like. I do. I grew up in Ukraine."
If anything, the concentration camps were far more inhumane than the work camps.
After the War
After the end of WWII, Corrie ten Boom traveled widely, spreading the love of Christ. She was also involved in rehabilitation of the victims of the Nazis, including collaborators and even the Nazis themselves. She recounts that in one case, she met one of the worst and nastiest guards at Ravensbruck. She held his hands, looked into his eyes, and prayed that God would help her forgive him. And she did!
She says, "For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."
Let me give you another example of this wonderful forgiveness. This is the story of a young Christian woman in China, who was imprisoned for her faith. Eventually the guard put out her eyes with sharpened chopsticks heated in a fire. And she forgave him right then and there. Subsequently, the guard also became a Christian.
Forgiveness is not an emotion, but a decision. We cannot on our own strength forgive our enemies, but God can help us do so!
Because of Corrie's work, the Queen of Holland knighted her. The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (Yad Vashem) asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of her work saving many Jews. The tree is still there.
Tramp for the Lord
This is a sequel to The Hiding Place, and covers Corrie ten Boom's life afterward. It is a very inspirational book, and has some very good lessons in it. Corrie talks about her own failings as object lessons.
I would issue a slight caution with this book. Occasionally she mentions some things I am not entirely comfortable with. I definitely agree we should not ask for money, and I wish far more Christians realized this. Our Source is God, not people. But she mentions things like binding demons in Jesus' name. I am not settled on that issue, and I don't recommend this practice at this time. The best Bible study I have seen that would prepare a person for the spiritual warfare that can become part of the Christian life is The Adversary by Bubeck. It should be available on Amazon, but I'll let you hunt it up for yourself.
Corrie mentions Watchman Nee. I have read some of his writings in the past, and been inspired by them. At the time Tramp for the Lord was published, it is entirely possible that what he taught was orthodox Christianity. Sadly, this has changed, especially with his successor, Witness Lee. The group has basically turned into a cult that preaches some heresy. So if you read any of Watchman Nee's books, use discernment. As a more serious caution, another person who has gone astray is Paul Yonggi Cho aka David Yonggi Cho. He has the largest congregation in the world, in Seoul, Korea, somewhere around a million members, I think. He is a major mover and shaker in the Church Growth Movement. He likes to say things like, if you want a bicycle, be sure and pray for it and tell God exactly what you want, including the exact color! This name it and claim it technique is NOT biblical. Jesus asked us to take up our cross. He didn't promise prosperity and health in this life. So Prosperity preachers, Name It and Claim It, are all bad news. I mention this here simply because Corrie seemed to have considerable admiration for Watchman Nee, and though it is tempting to welcome an Asian perspective, and these look like good Asian leaders, they are really NOT preaching the Gospel, and I would trust that Corrie would have figured this out sooner or later.
Links with More Information about Corrie ten Boom
- Corrie ten Boom Museum
Includes information about a book just released, and a short biographical description.
Information about the life of Corrie ten Boom.
- Harpy Hall of Fame: Corrie ten Boom
Biographical sketch with a personal note.
- Ten Boom Museum
More on the museum that used to be the ten Boom family home and watch shop.
Friend of Corrie ten Boom
Diet Eman was another person who lived in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. She wrote a book entitled, Things We Couldn't Say. In the book, she talks about her activities helping Jews and other displaced persons, by transporting ration cards and ID around Holland, helping place Jews and others in safe houses, and other such activities. She talks about her spiritual struggles to deal with all the consequences. It is a deeply touching book because she reveals her spiritual weaknesses and how the Lord conquered them on her behalf.
The name "Diet" is pronounced "deet".
Diet Eman met Corrie ten Boom after awhile, and they became friends.
Diet's life had one tragic aspect. She deeply loved a man, and they were engaged to be married. Like she was, he was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis. Unlike she was, he did not survive prison. He was eventually shipped to Germany, where he died in a concentration camp. They had delayed getting married because of the occupation. Eventually she did marry, and had children.
This was a book I could scarcely put down, and if you appreciated Corrie's books, you will probably like this one also.
Things We Couldn't Say
Available on Amazon
The title seems rather mundane and a little nebulous, but it's a very good book anyway.
I read the version written with James Schaap. I can't say how much difference there might be between this and other editions. But this edition is affordable, while the other one is pricey.
I could scarcely put this book down.
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