(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Corrie Cornelia) ten Boom first published her heart-wrenching memoir, A Prisoner and Yet . . . , in 1954. John and Elizabeth Sherrill, editors of Guideposts, a religious magazine, read the book, heard Corrie recount her experiences in Nazi concentration camps, and assisted her in writing the Christian spiritual classic The Hiding Place, knowing that Corrie had a bigger story to tell. The “hiding place” refers to two places: a Bible passage calling on God as a protector and shield from danger, and the Ten Booms’ secret room, where Jews were hidden from the Nazis.

Corrie begins her autobiography with the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary, in 1937, of the Ten Booms’ watch shop and home at 19 Barteljorisstraat, Haarlem, Holland, known as the Beje. Corrie, the first female watchmaker in Holland, is single and lives above the shop with her older, attractive sister, Betsie, also unmarried, and their father, Casper. Brother Willem’s and sister Nollie’s families live nearby. Casper is a devout Christian who twice daily prays and reads the Bible. He loves and respects the Jewish people, considering them to be God’s chosen people. The women of the Ten Boom family took care of German orphans during World War I and have cared for Haarlem’s sick and poor. Their home is a virtual social service agency, where Jews are welcomed and their holidays celebrated. With Adolf Hitler’s rise to power as German chancellor, anti-Semitism is increasing in Germany, and the nursing home in Hilversum that is run by Willem ten Boom, a Dutch Reformed minister, is overflowing with Jewish refugees. German Jewish suppliers of watchmaking parts are disappearing.

During World War II, the Germans invade Holland and harass Jews. Everybody must have ration cards to buy food. In November, 1941, German soldiers rob Corrie’s neighbor’s store and throw the neighbor into the street. At night, Corrie’s nephew takes the neighbor into hiding. Casper declares that it is an honor to risk one’s life to save Jews. Consequently, Jews, resistance workers, and men trying to avoid Nazi forced labor come to the Ten Booms for help. Resistance workers build a tiny, secret room in Corrie’s third-floor bedroom and install an alarm system. Fearful of Gestapo raids, the Ten Booms conduct drills to get Jews to the hiding place. Corrie obtains food cards and safe hiding places for Jews outside the Beje from people whom her family has previously helped, and she coordinates a network of underground workers.

On February 28, 1944, a Dutchman comes asking for help. Corrie agrees to help him, and the Nazis raid the Beje. The Ten Booms’ guests who are in the secret room are not caught, but Corrie, Casper, Willem, Nollie, and Betsie are hauled away in a wagon drawn by black horses. They are interrogated and sent to Scheveningen, a Dutch prison. Ten days later, Casper dies. All the Ten Booms but Betsie and Corrie are released. A nurse gives Corrie a copy of the Gospels, which help sustain her spirit while she is being held in solitary confinement. Then, Betsie and Corrie are sent to Ravensbrück, one of the worst death camps. Corrie is able to smuggle her Bible and vitamin drops into Ravensbrück. Betsie’s unfailing trust in Jesus and the sisters’ hope that, one day, their story of joy in suffering will turn people to Jesus sustain them. Saintly Betsie consistently insists that Corrie be thankful for their trials and tribulations and pray for...

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The Hiding Place Bibliography

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Armstrong, Karen. The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006. Explanation of the historical development of the Golden Rule that motivated the Ten Booms to become Holocaust heroes. Bibliographical references, index.

Baron, Lawrence. “Supercessionism Without Contempt: The Holocaust Evangelism of Corrie ten Boom.” In Christian Responses to the Holocaust: Moral and Ethical Issues, edited by Donald J. Dietrich. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2003. Explanation of why Corrie ten Boom’s theology and efforts to rescue Jews have received little attention in scholarly Holocaust literature. Bibliographical references, index.

Carlson, Carole C. Corrie ten Boom, Her Life, Her Faith: A Biography. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1983.

“Corrie ten Boom Was Imprisoned by Nazis for Sheltering Jews.” Boston Globe, April 17, 1983, p. 1.

Ten Boom, Corrie, and Jamie Buckingham. Tramp for the Lord. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1974. Corrie’s favorite Bible quotations begin each chapter in this sequel to The Hiding Place that highlights her travels preaching and living the Gospel.