Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ana's Essay on Corrie tenBoom

Here is Ana's report on Corrie tenBoom along with pictures of our visit to the tenBoom home in Haarlem a few weeks ago.

Last Sunday, April 15 was the anniversary of Corrie ten Boom’s birthday--which also happened to be the day she died.  Corrie ten Boom was born in 1892 in Haarlem, The Netherlands and died in 1983 in California.  Casper ten Boom, Corrie’s father, owned a watch shop in Haarlem.  He and his wife were loving Christians who often gathered people in their house for prayer.  They passed this faith and loving nature on to their children: Willem, Nollie, Betsie and Corrie. 

On May 10, 1940 the Nazis invaded Holland and began to occupy the country.  Hitler was trying to get rid of all the Jews so he made lots of anti-Jewish laws like making them wear a yellow star and not letting them have bikes or own a business or meet with Christians.  
The tenBoom family worked with the Dutch Underground to hide Jews from the Nazis.  They helped to hide Jewish people and move them on to safer places.  They also helped to get extra ration cards and hid these cards in their staircase.  

In order to hide the people, they built a compartment in Corrie’s bedroom.  It was small--about 8 feet long and 2 feet wide.  When we visited the house, I went into the “hiding place” with five other people and it was very crowded.  I could not imagine staying there for very long.

The tenBooms had a warning system in place to warn everybody who was hiding in their house about the Gestapo who often raided houses looking for Jews.  It took many practice runs to get everybody into the hiding place in about a minute.  To distract the Gestapo, someone would stall them so the Jews could hide.  
On February 28, 1944 the Gestapo came.  The tenBooms had been betrayed! Betsie pushed the alarm button.  Corrie was sick in bed in her room.  Suddenly, six people came running in and quickly crawled through a small opening in the closet into the hiding place.  They were four Jews and two Dutch underground workers. 
Meanwhile, on the floor below Corrie’s room, the Nazis had interrupted a prayer meeting.  There was a small sign in the window that said “Alpina.”  When the sign was in the window it was a signal to other Dutch Underground workers that it was safe to come inside.  Betsie knocked it out of the window, but one of the Germans put it back for her.  She didn’t dare move it after that.  Because the sign was still in the window, 16 more Underground workers entered the house that day and were arrested. 
Everyone in the house was arrested and taken to the local prison.  Casper was 84 years old.  He died 10 days later.
Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to the gruesome concentration camp in Ravensbruck, Germany.  They were put to work in a factory.  Betsie became sick soon after being put in that concentration camp.  Corrie and Betsie heard that lots of their family had been released.  But Betsie became so sick she had to be in the hospital.  She still had to work--this time she had to do knitting.  She died in the camp.
A few weeks later, Corrie was released and found her way back to Holland.  Later she found out that one week after she left the camp, all the women her age and older had been sent to the gas chamber.  
The six people in the hiding place had to stay in that small space for 2 days before being rescued.  They all got out safely.  One of the Jews was later arrested and died in a concentration camp, but three of them survived the war.  One of the Underground workers became a minister, the other one died in other resistance work. 
Corrie tenBoom travelled the word to talk about the experience and about her Christian faith.  
I learned about Corrie tenBoom through her book, The Hiding Place and by visiting her house.  I am amazed that Corrie survived the concentration camp because so many people died there. I am happy that her life was spared so that she could spread the word of forgiveness to many countries and people.  Here are two of her favorite quotes: 
There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.
God will enable you to forgive your enemies.
A plaque inside the Hiding Place



  1. Excellent, Ana. Thank you for reminding us of that history and the strong faith of the people involved.

  2. Hi Ana and the three of you,

    What a nice write up about Corrie Ten Boom.
    Jana and I knew all this but it is good to be reminded of it !

    Have a safe trip home. See the three of you soon.

    Jana and Jack

  3. Ana, I just like your essay on Corrie ten Boom. I did not know the whole story, just bits. Thank you for writing it down. You're a good writer!!