Corrie ten Boom

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Corrie ten Boom
BornCornelia ten Boom
15 April 1892
Amsterdam
Died15 April 1983(1983-04-15) (aged 91)
Placentia, California
OccupationWriter, clocksmith
ReligionChristianity
 
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Corrie ten Boom
BornCornelia ten Boom
15 April 1892
Amsterdam
Died15 April 1983(1983-04-15) (aged 91)
Placentia, California
OccupationWriter, clocksmith
ReligionChristianity

Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom (Amsterdam, 15 April 1892 – Placentia, California, 15 April 1983) was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and was imprisoned for it. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, describes the ordeal.

Early life[edit]

Corrie ten Boom grew up in Haarlem in Amsterdam and was the youngest of four children, born to parents Casper (1859–1944) and Cornelia (died 1921 of a cerebral haemorrhage). She had two other sisters, Betsie ten Boom (died 1944 in the Ravensbrück death camp) and Nollie (died in 1953). Her brother, Willem ten Boom, was born in 1887 and died in 1946 of spinal tuberculosis. Corrie's three maternal aunts also lived with her family. Bep died in the early 1920s, of tuberculosis; Jans died in the mid-1920s, of diabetes; and Anna, who took care of the children after the death of their mother, was the last to die, in the early 1930s.

Corrie's father worked as a watchmaker; a profession that she followed in becoming the first licensed female watchmaker in the Netherlands in 1924. Corrie and her sister Betsie never married and had lived their entire lives (until their arrest) in their childhood home in Haarlem. Corrie ten Boom also ran a church for people with mental disabilities, raised foster children in their home, and did other charitable works.

World War II[edit]

In 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Among their restrictions was banning a club which ten Boom had run for young girls.[1][page needed] In May 1942 a well-dressed woman came to the ten Boom door with a suitcase in hand. She told the ten Booms that she was a Jew and that her husband had been arrested several months before and her son had gone into hiding. As Occupation authorities had recently visited her, she was afraid to return home. Having heard that the ten Booms had helped their Jewish neighbors, the Weils, she asked if she might stay with the family. Ten Boom's father readily agreed. A devoted reader of the Old Testament, Casper believed Jews were the 'chosen people', and he told the woman, "In this household, God's people are always welcome."[1][page needed] The family then became very active in the Dutch underground hiding refugees They provided kosher food for the Jewish refugees who stayed with them and honored the Jewish Sabbath.[2]

Thus the ten Booms began "the hiding place", or "de schuilplaats", as it was known in Dutch (also known as "de Béjé", pronounced in Dutch as 'bayay', an abbreviation of the name of the street the house was in, the Barteljorisstraat). Corrie ten Boom and sister Betsie began taking in refugees—both Jews and others who were members of the resistance movement, being sought by the Gestapo and its Dutch counterpart. While they had extra rooms in the house, food was scarce for everyone, due to wartime shortages. Every non-Jewish Dutch person had received a ration card, which was required to obtain weekly coupons to buy food.

Thanks to her charitable work, ten Boom knew many people in Haarlem and remembered a couple who had a disabled daughter. The father was a civil servant, who by then was in charge of the local ration-card office. She went to his house one evening; when he asked how many ration cards she needed, "I opened my mouth to say, 'Five,'" ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place. "But the number that unexpectedly and astonishingly came out instead was: 'One hundred.'"[1][page needed] He gave them to her, and she provided cards to every Jew whom she met.

Secret room[edit]

The Hiding Place in Corrie ten Boom's closet.

Due to the number of people using their house, the family built a secret room in case a raid took place. They decided to build it in ten Boom's bedroom because it was in the highest floor of the house and people would hopefully have the most time to hide and avoid detection (as searches usually started on the first/ground floor). A member of the Dutch resistance designed the hidden room behind a false wall. Gradually, family and supporters brought building supplies into the house, hiding them in briefcases and rolled-up newspapers. When finished, the secret room was about 30 inches (76 cm) deep, the size of a medium wardrobe. A ventilation system allowed for breathing. To enter the secret room, a person had to open a sliding panel in the plastered brick wall under a bottom bookshelf and crawl in on hands and knees. In addition, the family installed an electric buzzer for warning in a raid. When the Nazis raided the ten Boom house in 1944, six people were using the hiding place to evade detection.

Arrest, detention, and release[edit]

On 28 February 1944, a Dutch informant told the Nazis of the work the ten Booms were doing, and the Nazis arrested the entire ten Boom family at around 12:30 p.m. The family was sent first to Scheveningen prison, where their elderly father died ten days after his arrest. While there, ten Boom's sister Nollie, brother Willem, and nephew Peter were all released. Later, ten Boom and sister Betsie were sent to the Vught political concentration camp, and finally to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. Betsie died there on December 16, 1944. Before she died, she told ten Boom, "There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still."[1][page needed]

Corrie ten Boom was released on December 28, 1944. In the movie The Hiding Place, she narrates the section on her release from camp, saying that she later learned that her release had been a clerical error. She said, "God does not have problems—only plans." The Jews whom the ten Booms had been hiding at the time of their arrests remained undiscovered and all but one, an old woman named Mary, survived.

Life after the war[edit]

After the war, ten Boom returned to The Netherlands to set up a rehabilitation center. The refuge houses consisted of concentration camp survivors and sheltered the jobless Dutch who previously collaborated with Germans during the occupation. She returned to Germany in 1946, and traveled the world as a public speaker, appearing in over sixty countries, during which time she wrote many books.

Ten Boom told the story of her family and their work during World War II in her best selling book, The Hiding Place (1971), which was made into a film by World Wide Pictures in 1975 starring Jeannette Clift as ten Boom and Julie Harris as ten Boom's sister Betsie. In 1977, ten Boom, then 85 years old, moved to Placentia, California. In 1978, she suffered two strokes, the first rendering her unable to speak, and the second resulting in paralysis. She did not regain function for the remaining five years of her life, dying on her 91st birthday (15 April 1983) following a third stroke.

Honors[edit]

Religious views[edit]

Her teaching focused on the Christian Gospel, with emphasis on forgiveness. In her book Tramp for the Lord (1974), she tells the story of an encounter while she was teaching in Germany in 1947. She was approached by a former Ravensbrück camp guard, who had been known as one of the cruelest. She was reluctant to forgive him, but prayed that she would be able to. Ten Boom wrote:

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.

She also wrote (in the same passage) that in her post-war experience with other victims of Nazi brutality, it was those who were able to forgive who were best able to rebuild their lives. She appeared on many Christian television programs discussing her ordeal during the Holocaust and the concepts of forgiveness and God's love.

She rejected the doctrine that some asserted, of Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and wrote that it was without Biblical foundation. She believed that such a doctrine left the Christian Church ill-prepared in times of great persecution, such as in China under Mao Zedong. She often quoted a favorite saying of her sister: "There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d ten Boom, Sherrill & Sherrill 1971.
  2. ^ "H2G2", DNA, The British Broadcasting Company .

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]