Corrie ten Boom

Courtesy the Corrie ten Boom House Foundation

Before the Second World War, Corrie ten Boom was just an ordinary woman living in Amsterdam with her father and sister, working in the family watchmaking business. When Adolf Hitler came to power in the 1930s, the ten Booms were disturbed by his racial prejudice and so they strived to save many Jewish lives by allowing them to stay in their home, which was quickly nicknamed ‘The Hiding Place’ (or to many Jewish people, ‘God’s Underground’). No Jew was turned away from the ten Boom family home. They even put in extra measures in their home to keep the Jewish people safe from the Nazis, the most well-known being a secret room the size of a wardrobe hidden behind a false brick wall in Corrie ten Boom’s bedroom, the highest room in the house, to avoid the capture of the Jews by the Nazis.

However, on February 28th 1944, the Nazis received a tip off from a Dutch spy that something was erroneous in the ten Boom household, due to the unusually large amount of ration cards the ten Boom household had obtained. The whole family was then arrested and sent to prison and later concentration camps – but due to the hiding place in Corrie’s bedroom, the six Jews staying in the house at the time were not captured, meaning that Corrie had saved their lives by not giving them away (even when under immense pressure to tell the truth by the Nazis) and allowing them to hide in the room. Corrie’s bravery then increased when she and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp after the death of their father, where both women suffered terrible conditions. Unfortunately, Bestie died in the camp on the 16th of December 1944 from her lifelong condition of pernicious anemia.

Corrie’s time in the camp after the death of her beloved sister was obviously very hard, but she was continually motivated by her sister’s visions before her death that they would be released before the New Year and that they would travel the world telling people of their ordeal in the camps and how their faith in God kept them strong. Obviously, Betsie was not there to accompany her sister, but everything else in the vision later proved to be true – with Corrie being released from the camp on New Year’s Eve 1944 (it was found out later this was due to a ‘clerical error’) and then travelling the world to tell of her plight.

This story was submitted by Sophie Rees, a Young Volunteer at The Wiener Library. The image comes courtesy the Corrie ten Boom House Foundation.