by Emma P., age 11
Bombs bursting, explosions erupting. Guns sputtering put-put-put-put! People talking about tyranny, an evil man, ration cards, shelters, and war. Individuals wandering around with yellow six-pointed stars sewn on their clothes. If you were to look for a certain house in the Netherlands, you would find a kind young woman and her family. If you were to look very closely in the bedroom, you would find a secret door leading into a secret room. In the room you would find a few people of all different ages packed tightly together. The room would smell, considering everyone’s sweat and body odor. It would be hot and stuffy in the windowless room. The people inside would be damp, bored, and anxious. They would all be Jewish. They would all be hiding. They would all be afraid. Who is the one that they are hiding from? Adolf Hitler, terrible tyrant, dangerous dictator, and passionate persecutor of Jews. Who is the kind young woman? Corrie ten Boom.
Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom, or Corrie, was born on April 15, 1892, near Haarlem, Netherlands. Corrie was the youngest in her family. She lived on the second floor of a watchmaker’s shop that had been opened by her grandfather. When she was thirty, she became a watchmaker like her father, Casper. Corrie and her family were deeply religious Christians. Their unfailing faith led them to help people in need. It also prepared them for their greatest challenge of all.
The Nazis, led by Hitler, invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940 when Corrie was forty-eight. One day, a finely clothed lady knocked at the door of Corrie and her family’s house. Tap-tap! Tap-tap! The lady told Corrie and her family that she was Jewish. Her concerned son had gone into hiding, and her husband had been forcefully arrested. She explained that she once heard that the ten Booms had helped one of their Jewish neighbors. The ten Booms realized that the lady was asking for help. They immediately let the lady into the house. Casper reassured the lady, saying that “in this household, God’s people are always welcome.” Soon, more and more Jewish people heard about the ten Booms’ kindness, and more and more Jewish people and their allies came pleading for help. They had long cases meant for grandfather clocks brought into their house. The cases were filled with building materials. The ten Booms created a small room in Corrie’s bedroom that she later called “the Hiding Place.” They also installed a blaring buzzer that warned the guests to get into the Hiding Place when the Gestapo, or Nazi secret police, passed by.
The Hiding Place worked for nearly four years. One fateful day in 1944, an informant reported to the Nazis about the ten Booms. Around noon, all the ten Booms were arrested. The Jews that the ten Booms were hiding remained safe, but Casper sadly passed away ten days after the arrest. The rest of Corrie’s family escaped except for Corrie and her older sister Betsie. After being held in solitary confinement for three months, they were sent to a concentration camp called Herzogenbusch, or Kamp Vught. Then they were dragged to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. Concentration camps were pure evil. They were the personification of injustice. They were the propagators of death. Corrie and Betsie held worship services there using a Bible that they had snuck in. Corrie’s health was as good as ever, considering the circumstances, but Betsie’s was deteriorating. While they were there, Betsie’s health reached a critical point, but because of the restrictions, she couldn’t receive adequate care. On December 16 she passed on, like many others who had fallen victim to Hitler’s cruelty. She was only fifty-nine. Corrie was heartbroken. Then Corrie received information that all of the women at Ravensbrück in her age group were to be sent to the gas chambers. Was this to be the end of Corrie too? No, she was freed on the last day of the year because of a clerical error. This was a miracle. All the other women in her group died. After the war Corrie set up a rehabilitation center in the Netherlands. Until 1950 it was only for concentration camp survivors. However, it was later changed to include anyone who needed help. Corrie traveled all over the world, telling people her story and bringing them to Jesus. Corrie later forgave two Ravensbruck employees, one of whom had been very oppressive to Betsie. She went on to write The Hiding Place, her most famous book, soon after. It was about how Corrie had fought injustice and how she had gone through many difficult things, but God had pulled her through. When Corrie was eighty-five, she moved to southern California, where she suffered a series of strokes. Sadly, they proved to be too much for her. On her ninety-first birthday, April 15, 1983, Corrie ten Boom went to be with the Lord. Corrie’s body may be dead, but there is one part of her that is still alive, the part that no one can take away: her love. Corrie knew that, as she once said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Love never dies.