This was one on the DEROS list…a visit to Haarlem, Netherlands to visit the home of Corrie ten Boom, author of the book The Hiding Place. That book was introduced to me by a college friend, and I highly recommend it. I certainly cannot adequately summarize the content in a blog post, but the short version is this: The ten Boom family were Christians, and during the Nazi occupation they believed it was their duty to hide Jewish people so that they would not be sent to concentration camps. Although they saved many, ultimately their house was raided and the family was imprisoned. Only Corrie survived and when the war was over she traveled the world to share her testimony of God’s love, providence, and grace.
The ten Booms were watchmakers and although the jewelry store next to their home is named Ten Boom Jewelers, it is no longer in the Ten Boom family.
Many of the furnishings in the house are authentic. This clock is still in the window, and it was once used to signal to other members of the Dutch Resistance whether there were Jewish people in hiding.
The tour was free and was led by a volunteer who enthusiastically shared the story of the ten Booms and the Christian faith. She described how the house had an alarm system to signal the occupants if a Nazi authority was visiting. They held drills in which they had to vacate the public spaces in the house, removing all evidence of their presence, and hide within 70 seconds. That meant not just getting the people into hiding, but removing extra dishes, clothes, personal items, and anything else that would indicate that there were more than the members of the ten Boom family at this house. After cleaning up they would rush to the entrance to the hiding place through this linen closet.
This hiding place was constructed by putting a false wall in Corrie’s bedroom; it was the size of a closet. It had been constructed with the help of a member of the Dutch Resistance. When the house was raided in February of 1944 there were six people hiding in this space. Though the hiding place and those therein were not found, a thorough search of the house uncovered extra ration cards so the ten Boom family was arrested and eventually sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Corrie ten Boom was the sole survivor in her family – her sister Betsie and father Casper both died. Countless people were saved by her efforts – not just in hiding them in her home, but by sharing her message around the world. Though she passed away in 1983 (in California!) her story lives on through this house and through her writings.