The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place, written by Corrie ten Boom and published in 1971, is an inspiring autobiographical account of the author’s life during World War II and the German occupation.
Corrie ten Boom begins her story on a January day in 1937. She and her family are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their fathers watch shop in Haarlem above which the family has made their home. Corrie’s mother is no longer alive but she, sister Betsie and her father greet friends and guests throughout the day. Sister Nollie and brother Wilhelm arrive later. A Jew escaping persecution in the streets of Germany has accompanied Wilhelm and the discussion turns to the maddening events occurring as Germany’s crusade of oppression grows. This gathering foreshadows the horrendous things to come.
Corrie and her family were deeply religious and actively engaged in Christian work throughout Holland. When the Germans invaded in May of 1940 she and her family were already committed to resist the Occupation. When the Nazis began to arrest and deport the Jews, Corrie and her family vowed with the help of God to protect them. They became involved in the Dutch Underground and used their home and its secret rooms, “the hiding place”, as refuge for those being persecuted. On February 28, 1944 an unexpected raid left them unaware and everyone in the home except those in the hiding place were taken to The Hague.
After being moved to Schvengenin prison Corrie was separated from her family. She learned her father had died 10 days after the arrest, Nollie had been released and Betsie was alive but in Schvengenin prison as well. While waiting to board the train to be moved to Vught, a concentration camp, Corrie was reunited with her sister. At Vught Betsie labored as a seamstress while Corrie worked in a radio factory.
They were then moved to Ravensbruck, a women’s extermination camp. By now Corrie and her sister were middle-aged women and Betsie’s health was deteriorating. The conditions at Ravensbruck were unspeakable. They were starving and the living quarters were filthy and infested with fleas. It was so horrible in fact that the German officers rarely entered the women’s barracks. Corrie and Betsie saw this as a blessing. With each humiliation they faced Corrie and her sister looked to God for comfort and strength and openly expressed forgiveness for their captor’s deeds. Corrie shared her trust in God with her fellow prisoners, often reading from the small Bible she had miraculously concealed throughout her ordeal.
By December 1944, Betsie could no longer stand for the camps morning roll call. She had to be carried out each morning by Corrie and a friend. Betsie was transferred to the camp hospital where she died. With much effort Corrie was able to see her sister. In death Betsie had found peace and all traces of suffering were gone.