Corrie ten Boom

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Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom war heroine.jpg
Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom

15 April 1892
Died15 April 1983(1983-04-15) (aged 91)
OccupationWriter, watchmaker
Known forAuthor of The Hiding Place , Righteous Among the Nations
Parent(s) Casper ten Boom, Cornelia Johanna Arnolda ten Boom-Luitingh
Website ten Boom Museum

Cornelia Arnolda Johanna "Corrie" ten Boom (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker and later a writer who worked with her father Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. They were caught and she was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place , is a biography that recounts the story of her family's efforts and how ten Boom found hope while imprisoned at the concentration camp.

Casper ten Boom Dutch Righteous Among the Nations

Casper ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews and resisters escape the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II. He is the father of Betsie and Corrie ten Boom, who also aided the Jews and were sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where Betsie died. Casper ten Boom died 9 March 1944 in The Hague, after nine days imprisonment in the Scheveningen Prison. In 2008, he was recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

Betsie ten Boom Dutch concentration camp victim

Elisabeth ten Boom was a Dutch woman, the daughter of a watchmaker, who suffered persecution under the Nazi regime in World War II, including incarceration in Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she died aged 59. The daughter of Casper ten Boom, she is one of the leading characters in The Hiding Place, a book written by her sister Corrie ten Boom about the family's experiences during World War II. Nicknamed Betsie, she suffered with pernicious anemia from her birth. The oldest of five Ten Boom children, she did not leave the family and marry, but remained at home until World War II.

National Socialism, more commonly known as Nazism, is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party – officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party – in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar aims.


Early life

Corrie ten Boom was born on 15 April 1892 to a working class family in Amsterdam, Netherlands, near Haarlem. Named after her mother Cornelia but known as Corrie all her life, she was the youngest child of Casper ten Boom, a jeweler and watchmaker. [1] Her father was fascinated by the craft of watchmaking and often became so engrossed in his work that he forgot to charge customers for the services. [2]

She trained to be a watchmaker herself and in 1922 became the first woman licensed as a watchmaker in The Netherlands. Over the next decade, in addition to working in her father's shop, she established a youth club for teenage girls, which provided religious instruction and classes in the performing arts, sewing, and handicrafts. [1] She and her family were Christians (Calvinists in the Dutch Reformed Church), and their faith inspired them to serve their society, offering shelter, food, and money to those in need. [1]

The Dutch Reformed Church was the largest Christian denomination in the Netherlands from the onset of the Protestant Reformation until 1930. It was the foremost Protestant denomination, and—since 1892—one of the two major Reformed denominations along with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.

World War II

In May 1940 the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Among their restrictions was banning the youth club. [3] [ page needed ] In May 1942 a well-dressed woman came to the ten Booms' with a suitcase in hand and told them that she was a Jew, her husband had been arrested several months before, her son had gone into hiding, and Occupation authorities had recently visited her, so she was afraid to go back. She had heard that the ten Booms had helped their Jewish neighbors, the Weils, and asked if they might help her too. Casper ten Boom readily agreed that she could stay with them, despite the police headquarters being only half a block away. [4] A devoted reader of the Old Testament, he believed that the Jews were the "chosen people", and he told the woman, "In this household, God's people are always welcome." [5] The family then became very active in the Dutch underground hiding refugees; they honored the Jewish Sabbath. [6] The family never sought to convert any of the Jews who stayed with them. [7]

Battle of the Netherlands Nazi invasion of the Netherlands

The Battle of the Netherlands was a military campaign part of Case Yellow, the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until the surrender of the main Dutch forces on 14 May. Dutch troops in the province of Zeeland continued to resist the Wehrmacht until 17 May when Germany completed its occupation of the whole country.

Jews as the chosen people Belief that Jews were chosen by God for a covenental relationship

In Judaism, "chosenness" is the belief that the Jews, via descent from the ancient Israelites, are the chosen people, i.e. chosen to be in a covenant with God. The idea of the Israelites being chosen by God is found most directly in the Book of Deuteronomy as the verb bahar, and is alluded to elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible using other terms such as "holy people". Much is written about these topics in rabbinic literature. The three largest Jewish denominations—Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism—maintain the belief that the Jews have been chosen by God for a purpose. Sometimes this choice is seen as charging the Jewish people with a specific mission—to be a light unto the nations, and to exemplify the covenant with God as described in the Torah.

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 their street address, the Barteljorisstraat). Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie opened their home to refugees — both Jews and others who were members of the resistance movement — being sought by the Gestapo and its Dutch counterpart. They had plenty of room, although wartime shortages meant that food was scarce. Every non-Jewish Dutch person had received a ration card, the requirement for obtaining weekly food coupons. Through 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. [4] She went to his house one evening, and 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.'" [8] He gave them to her and she provided cards to every Jew she met.

The Barteljorisstraat is a shopping street in Haarlem that connects the Grote Markt to the Kruisstraat.

Gestapo official secret police of Nazi Germany

The Geheime Staatspolizei, abbreviated Gestapo, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.

The refugee work done at the Beje by ten Boom and her sister became known by the Dutch Resistance. The Resistance sent an architect to the ten Boom home to build a secret room adjacent to ten Boom's room for the Jews in hiding, as well as an alert buzzer to warn the refugees to get into the room as quickly as possible. [7]

Arrest, detention and release

On February 28, 1944, a Dutch informant named Jan Vogel told the Nazis about the ten Booms' work; at around 12:30 P.M. the Nazis arrested the entire ten Boom family. They were sent to Scheveningen prison when Resistance materials and extra ration cards were found at the home. [9] Nollie and Willem were released immediately along with Corrie's nephew Peter; Casper died 10 days later. The six people hidden by the ten Booms, among them both Jews and resistance workers, remained undiscovered: Corrie ten Boom received a letter one day in prison reading "All the watches in your cabinet are safe," meaning the refugees had managed to escape and were safe. [9] Four days after the raid, resistance workers transferred them to other locations. Altogether, the Gestapo arrested some 30 people in the ten Boom family home that day. [10]

Ten Boom was initially held in solitary confinement. After three months, she was taken to her first hearing. On trial, ten Boom spoke about her work with the mentally disabled; the Nazi lieutenant scoffed, as the Nazis had been killing mentally disabled individuals for years based on their eugenics ideologies. [11] Ten Boom defended her work, saying that in the eyes of God, a mentally disabled person might be more valuable "than a watchmaker. Or a lieutenant." [11]

Corrie and Betsie were sent from Scheveningen to Herzogenbusch, a political concentration camp (also known as Kamp Vught), and finally to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, a women's labor camp in Germany. There they held worship services, after the hard days at work, using a Bible that they had managed to sneak in. [11] While at Ravensbruck, Betsie ten Boom began to discuss plans with her sister after the war for a place of healing. Betsie's health continued to deteriorate and she died on December 16, 1944 at the age of 59. [12] Before she died, she told Corrie, "There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still." Fifteen days later, Corrie was released. Afterwards, she was told that her release was due to a clerical error and that a week later, all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chambers. [13]

Corrie ten Boom returned home in the midst of the "hunger winter." She opened her doors still to the mentally disabled who were in hiding for fear of execution. [14]

Life after the war

After the war, ten Boom returned to The Netherlands to set up a rehabilitation centre in Bloemendaal. The refuge housed concentration-camp survivors and sheltered the jobless Dutch who previously collaborated with Germans during the Occupation exclusively until 1950, when it accepted anyone in need of care. She returned to Germany in 1946, and met with and forgave two Germans who had been employed at Ravensbrück, one of whom was particularly cruel to Betsie. [14] Ten Boom went on to travel the world as a public speaker, appearing in more than 60 countries. She wrote many books during this time.

Corrie Ten Boom told the story of her family members and their World War II work in her best-selling book, The Hiding Place (1971), which was made into a 1975 World Wide Pictures film, The Hiding Place , starring Jeannette Clift as Corrie and Julie Harris as Betsie. In 1977, 85-year-old Corrie migrated to Placentia, California. In 1978, she suffered two strokes, the first rendering her unable to speak, and the second resulting in paralysis. She died on her 91st birthday, 15 April 1983, after a third stroke.

A sequel film, Return to the Hiding Place (War of Resistance) , was released in 2011 in the United Kingdom, with its United States release in 2013, based on Hans Poley's book, which painted a wider picture of the circle of which she was a part.


Further reading

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  1. 1 2 3 Corrie ten Boom Biography, A&E Television Networks, LLC.
  2. Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 117. ISBN   9781556529610.
  3. ten Boom, Corrie. The Hiding Place. Peabody Massachusetts Hendrickson Publishers, 2009
  4. 1 2 Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 118. ISBN   9781556529610.
  5. Boom, Corrie ten. The Hiding Place. Peabody Massachusetts Hendrickson Publishers, 2009, p. 88
  6. "H2G2", DNA, The British Broadcasting Company.
  7. 1 2 Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 119. ISBN   9781556529610.
  8. Boom, Corrie ten. The Hiding Place. Peabody Massachusetts Hendrickson Publishers, 2009, p. 92
  9. 1 2 Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 120. ISBN   9781556529610.
  10. Holocaust Memorial - Corrie ten Boom, The Holocaust Memorial
  11. 1 2 3 Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 121. ISBN   9781556529610.
  12. Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. pp. 121–122. ISBN   9781556529610.
  13. Boom, Corrie ten. The Hiding Place. Peabody Massachusetts Hendrickson Publishers, 2009, p 240
  14. 1 2 Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 122. ISBN   9781556529610.