In the book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, how did Corrie show love to other people?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Hiding Place is the real-life account of the author and narrator, Corrie Ten Boom, and her harrowing and almost soul-destroying survival during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, Jewish sympathizers along with their father, hide and protect as many people as they can after they witness a needless attack on their Jewish neighbor, Mr Weil. Corrie becomes active in the Underground and learns not to ask questions. There is just one question which Corrie must answer through her own actions and that is "How should a Christian act when evil was in power?" (Ch 5). This will test her love.

Corrie has faced many disappointments and difficulties in her life and draws her strength from her family. Even as a young woman, she faces the ultimate rejection by Karel, who, instead of marrying Corrie, will marry "well," and Corrie's father reminds her that "Love is the strongest force in the world." He urges her to be strong because otherwise "part of us dies too" (ch 3). Only years later, on reflection, does Corrie realize that these words will carry her through the most difficult times in her life and ensure that, with her sister's unwavering compassion for others as her guide, she has "a secret that would open far darker rooms than this - places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all." Corrie accepts, at this moment, that love is perfect and pure and, dedicating herself to God, she asks for divine help in being able to love "that much."

Corrie and her family have an unshakable faith and Corrie shows her love by providing ration cards for every Jewish person she comes into contact with, keeping many people safe in the concealed room in her family's home, and even, when the family is arrested for its involvement, protecting the people who are currently hiding there - who are, in fact, never discovered by the Nazis even after the family's arrest.

However, Corrie is sometimes overwhelmed by the unnecessary and malicious actions of the Nazis, especially after she and Betsie are sent, ultimately, to Ravensbruck for their involvement in the Underground. She relies on Betsie to help her see the good in the worst situations. Betsie's capacity for forgiveness constantly amazes Corrie and she is inspired by her sister, as Betsie becomes weaker and sicker, to ensure that other prisoners are helped and even ministered to where possible. Corrie recalls the time Betsie gives thanks to God for the fleas in their room. It is because of the fleas that the guards stay out of their room, enabling the women to hold prayer meetings undetected. 

Ultimately, Corrie shows her love in her own capacity to forgive and to honor Betsie's legacy. Betise is dead and Corrie is angry after her release, unable to go back to anything resembling a normal life. She realizes that she needs to share Betsie's dream with others and, at a church service long after the war, face to face with a man she recognizes as a Nazi guard, she manages to forgive whereupon "into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me." Corrie's realization that loving her enemies requires "the love itself" from God (ch 15) she becomes more active in projects to uplift her community, but it takes "a lot of love."