Corrie Ten Boom: Living Her Faith

"The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom

“The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom

It’s not often that there’s a history book people can’t put down, but every person I’ve talked to who’s read this book has had the same positive response. Even folks who think they “don’t like history” devour the pages of this World War II primary source.

The book is by Corrie Ten Boom. Written post-war, it tells her story of helping Jews escape and find shelter from the Nazis, and what happened to her and her family when they were captured and imprisoned for their actions and faith.

The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

Published in 1971 and with more than 2 million copies in print, The Hiding Place is a classic on the shelves of Holocaust history and persecuted faith. Beginning with childhood, the book details Corrie Ten Boom’s life and how she was prepared in her youth for the courageous actions and unyielding faith in the 1940’s.

The Ten Boom Family lived in Holland and owned a watch-shop. Mr. Ten Boom and his two middle-age, maiden daughters worked in the shop and kept the little crookedly built house neat and hospitable. When the Germans invaded and occupied Holland, the family adjusted to war rationing, curfews, and identity cards. But when their Jewish friends disappeared or whispered they were going into hiding, the Ten Boom family decided they had to live their Christian faith and help others in need.

They set up a hiding place in their home and organized a system of underground messages, helping many Jews to safety or allowing them to live permanently in their home. But one day their home was searched and the Ten Booms were taken to prison.

In the dark months that followed, their faith was strengthened and remained unbroken even as earthly tragedy revolved around them. Eventually, Corrie and her sister were sent to a women’s prison where they worked in brutal conditions and in the evenings prayed and sang with the other prisoners, making a difference by sharing their faith.

I’m not going to tell the rest of the story…you’ll just have to read it for yourself!

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp (Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1026934)

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp (Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1026934)

A Powerful Passage From The Book

Corrie is in prison for sheltering Jews. A German lieutenant is questioning her:

I started into the man’s intelligent blue-gray eyes: true National-Socialist [Nazi] philosophy I thought… And then to my astonishment I hear my own voice saying boldly, “May I tell you the truth, Lieutenant Rahms?”

“This hearing, Miss ten Boon, is predicated on the assumption that you will do me that honor.”

“The truth, Sir,” I said, swallowing, “is that God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things.”

I knew it was madness to talk this was to a Nazi officer. But he said nothing so I plunged ahead. “In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us. Who knows, in His eyes a half-wit may be worth more than a watchmaker. Or – a lieutenant.”

Lieutenant Rahms stood up abruptly. “That will be all for today.” He walked swiftly to the door. “Guard!”

I heard footsteps on the gravel path.

“The prisoner will return to her cell.”

Why YOU Should Read This Book

It’s a story about forgiveness. It’s a story about courage and commitment to live what you believe, even in the harshest circumstances. Historically, The Hiding Place is a valuable account of one family’s work to save their neighbors and strangers from the Holocaust and the price the family paid for their beliefs and actions.

Yes, it’s a dark side of history. No, we should not forget it. The Hiding Place is a good primary source to start understanding the terror of the Holocaust without becoming overwhelmingly graphic.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Have you read The Hiding Place? Is there a part of the story that is particularly unforgettable? (I couldn’t share my favorite moment because it would be a serious spoiler.)

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, living history enthusiast, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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8 Responses to Corrie Ten Boom: Living Her Faith

  1. Shawnna says:

    I read this book probably 30-some years ago; I’ve been meaning to re-read it… you just gave me a little kick-in-the-pants! 🙂 I’m off to the bookshelf…

  2. David Connon says:

    Hi, Sarah. Thanks for writing about The Hiding Place. I really like that book for the reasons you mentioned. I have a minor question: Is this book a primary source in light of the fact that one or two skillful professional writers helped Corrie ten Boom write it?

    • That’s a great question, David. I would lean toward saying “yes” because the other writers were helping Corrie share her story. (Think about transcriptions of oral history.) They were working with her while she was still alive, and helping make her words readable for a large audience…possibly helping with the challenges of English words and grammar. However, I do see the concern and will have to check the official definition of “primary source.”

  3. Thomas Place Sr. says:

    thank you for sharing this book with us Sarah. ill be buying one today /i have used her writing in some church programs as well .

  4. Larry De Maar says:

    The Hiding Place is a very good book that was made into an excellent movie in 1975 by World Wide Pictures. It stars Julie Harris as Betsy, Eileen Heckart as Katje, Arthur O’Connell as Papa (his last movie), and introducing Jeannette Clift as Corrie ten Boom. I have a VHS copy of it and I understand that the Billy Graham Assoc. has remastered the movie and made it in DVD. It is also on YouTube. The movie was well done and has a fantastic musical score, very moving.
    If you like “The Hiding Place”, I would recommend “Things We Couldn’t Say” by Diet Eman with James Schaap. Diet was in the Dutch Resistance and was in the same prison camp as Corrie and Betsy.
    I would, also, recommend the book “Anne Frank Remembered” by Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold. This book fills in the gaps in Anne’s diary and tells how they lived in the Annex and the people who helped them. Miep was the one who found and saved the diary. Otto Frank, the only survivor of the annex, lived with Miep and her husband 7 years after the war.

    • Hi Larry, I’ve seen the movie “The Hiding Place.” It is well done! Thanks for the recommendations. A friend and I are hoping to read Anne Frank’s journal this year and Miep Gies book sounds like a good resource too.

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