THE HIDING PLACE
with Elizabeth & John Sherril
The echoes of an imminent war between allied forces and Nazi Germany were coming to the nether lands of polders and tulips. One night, with the Dutch people glued to their radios, the prime minister assured the country that he had guaranteed the Netherlands’ neutrality in the conflict and that the war’s dark clouds did not cover the nation. Five hours later, the Luftwaffe bombers charged and the sound of sirens was heard across Amsterdam’s canals. And so were the first bombs.
AMONG THE MILLIONS who couldn’t believe what was happening were two sisters in a typical house of the Haarlem, Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom, the daughters of an expert watchmaker, whose lives were deeply affected by these events.
Barteljoris Street was an example of ethnic and religious plurality of cosmopolitan Amsterdam. Christians, Baptists or Lutherans, Jews and Anti-Semitists lived in a healthy neighborhood where friendship and mutual support were evident. Until that day!
The Hiding Place tells us a real story, filled with episodes that demonstrate the compassion and love reigning at the core of the Ten Boom family while they used their home to host hundreds of people persecuted by the occupying German forces – mostly Jews.
The book also depicts the terror of the Nazi Holocaust that this family experienced. The father was buried anonymously, and Betsie succumbed to the inhuman treatment, perishing in captivity at Ravensbruck’s concentration camp.
But Cornelia survived. She survived to tell the world of the miracles that God has done there. Even the emission of her own certificate of release may have been the product of an administrative error, since on the week following her release, all the women at the camp who shared her age were exterminated. While she was there, subject to inhuman and shameful conditions,
Corrie kept her hope and faith in God, and still served as a spiritual guide to her fellow prisoners.
In this work, we get to know how the architect of that Haarlem house modified Corrie’s room, taking advantage of the existing dip on the back of the building, in order to make a fake wall. This adaptation allowed the temporary hiding of hundreds of Jews who sought refuge with the Ten Boom’s.
Corrie became a farsighted “operational,” even being presented as the head of a great organization – an exaggeration, according to the author, but in truth it was not just about concealing a hideout. Corrie obtained ration cards, essential to those without identification authorized by the Germans, and spoke in “watchmaker” code in a clandestine telephone. To her, “every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for a future that only He can see.”