I recently read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. In the book, they include lots of pictures; of the family, the house, and some with Corrie and Billy Graham. They made a movie based on the book in 1975, so naturally I wanted to see it after I finished the book. This review is based more on the book, but the movie hits the highlights. There was much they left out I wished they would have included, but it got the overall point across. I highly recommend the book, to read about the courage of these two sisters and their unwavering devotion to God and family and life, is refreshing and humbling.
Throughout the beginning credits in the movie, they show pictures of the real Ten Booms, their store and family, and places around Holland. They seem happy, normal, full of life. Corrie had a big immediate and extended family, many of whom lived in their house at one time. But by the time the German’s invaded Holland, only her brother Willem, her sister Betsie, and her father lived in the house. Her mother and aunts had died. Her other sister Nollie had married and moved and started a family of her own.
Her father owned and operated a watch shop, which was what his father had done, and what Corrie planned on doing. She was the first certified woman watchmaker in Holland and streamlined the business side of her father’s store, something he never did well. He felt it was a privilege to work on such great watches for people and often forgot to bill them. The shop was in the front of their house, which was two buildings combined into one, leaving the floors uneven and weird nooks and crannies, with would later prove to be helpful.
Every morning and night, her father read from the Bible. They were a deeply religious family and this continued throughout theirs lives, and everything they experienced. They never forsake God, or gave up on him, and knew that he had a plan for their lives, even though it seemed everything couldn’t have been worse.
When the Germans invaded, they starting seeing the effect immediately. Their radios were confiscated, though they hid one of their two in the stairs. When Corrie went to turn in theirs, she was greatly convicted about lying to the officials. Businesses started placing signs that stated “No Jews Allowed” in their windows. The star armbands were mandated for the Jewish.
Soon after, Jews started disappearing from their homes, their businesses. They would be randomly grabbed off the street and hauled off, to who knows where. They were shot in front of their families. When the Jewish shop owner across the street was in trouble, the Ten Booms came to the rescue.
German had invaded his shop and home in the middle of the night. They thrust him out onto the pavement, a gun pointed at his chest. While the Germans were busy ransacking his place, Corrie and her family snatched the man off the street and hid him in their house. This started their work in the underground. They soon started taking in Jews from different walks on life. A single mother with a newborn, a young couple, an older man… it grew from there. Most people were placed in the country, by her brother Willem and his sons, but a handful became family at their house.
Corrie became more involved in the underground, meeting a huge network of people that could help with most things. She was able to get ration card (the only way to get food), an alarm system was put in her house so at the touch of a button all of the Jews could hide, and a wall was built in her room at the top of the house, so perfect it looked like it had been there since the house was built.
The room was small, standing room only for about 5-7 people, but it worked. They had drills until they could all get into the room in 70 seconds. From time to time, Germans would come into the watch store, and they needed to let others know to stay away. They had a signal for other underground workers, a sign placed in the window if the coast was clear.
The Ten Booms operated in relative safety, even an official high up on the police force helped out. Many native Hollanders, even some of the German invaders, were completely against the movement or were at the least compassionate and would turn a blind eye.
One evening a man came to the store, and immediately Corrie knew something was wrong. He asked for money to bribe officials to release his Jewish wife. She played it cool, pretending she didn’t know what he was talking about, but eventually said she would have the money in a few hours. She could not refuse anyone in need. He never looked her in the eye, until the very end of the conversation when he said, “I will not forget this.” They were raided in a few hours. The Jews managed to get to safety and were never found. Though the house was boarded up, they were able to escape and make it to safety.
Corrie, her sister and her father were taken to prison. Her brother and nephew Philip had also been at the house that evening and we also arrested. A police officer offer to let the father go (because he was a loved and respected old man) if he promised to “be good”, but the father stated, “If you let me go, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone that needs help.” He died in prison 10 days later.
Corrie and Betsie both went to prison and when the Allies invaded, they were moved to a concentration camp in Germany. The conditions were terrible, as anyone who knows anything of the Holocaust knows. They got a cup or broth and a piece of bread a day, after hard manual labor, and roll call at 4:30am, snow or sun. They were infected with lice and fleas, which Corrie cursed, but Betsie thanked God for, though Corrie couldn’t understand why. They soon found out, that once in their bunk with the fleas, the Germans wouldn’t venture that far in, so they could hold Bible studies and prayer sessions. They would have prayers, songs, readings, in many languages and religions.
Betise became very ill and was taken to the hospital on campus. Corrie would sneak away to be with her. Betsie had a vision, as she often did, and she told Corrie they would both be released before the end of the year. Betsie died December 16, 1944 in the hospital. Corrie was released December 31, 1944.
Corrie spent the rest of her life fulfilling the dream/vision Betsie had had before her death – telling the world about God. Corrie traveled the world visiting over 60 countries, speaking about God and her experiences, she wrote many books, and she opened a rehabilitation center for Holocaust victims to recover emotionally as well as physically, and eventually was able to do the same for the very Hollanders who had worked with the Germans.
The recurring theme throughout their lives/the book/the movie… is their faith in God. Reading this book, you can clearly see God through all of the little things that happened: A prayer to soothe the throat of an older coughing Jew during the raid, the request of a Bible given by a German nurse, the ants that kept Corrie company during isolation, the bottle of liquid vitamins that never ran out. The woman’s faith in God never faultered, not once, and they were able to witness to people from many walks of life during the war, in the harshest of conditions.
It is always nice to see those images of the people, the house, the shop, the prisons, that form in your head, brought to life on the big screen. While the movie needed a little more info, but it was well done, and hit the main points, but as always, I suggest reading the book first.