:: MISSIONARY - CORNELIA "CORRIE" TEN BOOM ::

CORNELIA "CORRIE" TEN BOOM
[Born : 15 - 04 - 1892]

Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom (Amsterdam, The Netherlands April 15, 1892 – Placentia, California, April 15, 1983) was a Dutch Christian. Along with her father and other family members, Corrie helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and wrote her most famous book The Hiding Place about the ordeal.


Corrie grew up in Haarlem, Holland and was the youngest of four children, born to her parents, Casper ten Boom (1859- 1945), and Cornelia (died 1921 of a cerebral haemorrhage).


She had two other sisters, Betsie (died 1944 in Ravensbruck of anemia), who is mentioned frequently as a main character and Nollie (died 1953). Willem Ten Boom, her only brother, was born in 1887 and died in 1947 of spinal tuberculosis and was also a main character in "The Hiding Place" as well.


Corrie ten Boom's three aunts, Tante Bep who died in the early 1920s of tuberculosis, Tante Jans, who died in the mid-1920s of diabetes and Tante Anna who took care of all three of her sisters was the last to die in the early 1930s. All were timeless characters in Corrie's life as well. Living with her family for most of her life, many a time they were mentioned in various chapters of the book.


Her family was arrested due to an informant in 1944, and her father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison. A sister, brother and nephew were released, but Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where Betsie died.


Corrie wrote many books and spoke frequently in the post-war years about her experiences. She also aided Holocaust survivors in the Netherlands. Her autobiography was later adapted as a film of the same name in 1975 and starred Jeannette Clift as Corrie.


World War II


In 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Among their restrictions was banning a club which Corrie had run for young girls. In 1942, Corrie and her family had become very active in the Dutch underground, hiding refugees. They rescued many Jews from the Nazi SS.

They had long been involved in charitable work, and Corrie had worked with disabled children. They believed the Jews are God's chosen people. They provided kosher food for the Jewish refugees who stayed with them and honored the Jewish Sabbath.


Harboring refugees


In May 1942, a well-dressed woman came to the ten Boom door with a suitcase in hand. She told the ten Booms that she was a Jew and that her husband had been arrested several months before, and her son had gone into hiding. As Occupation authorities had recently visited her, she was afraid to return home. Having heard that the ten Booms had helped their Jewish neighbors, the Weils, she asked if she might stay with the family. Corrie ten Boom's father readily agreed. A devoted reader of the Old Testament, Casper ten Boom believed Jews are the chosen. He told the woman, "In this household, God's people are always welcome."

Thus the ten Booms began "the hiding place", or "de schuilplaats", as it was known in Dutch (also known as "de Béjé", pronounced in Dutch as 'bayay', an abbreviation of the name of the street the house was in, the Barteljorisstraat). Corrie and sister Betsie began taking in refugees, some of whom were Jews, others members of the resistance movement who were sought by the Gestapo and its Dutch counterpart. While they had extra rooms in the house, food was scarce for everyone due to wartime shortages. Every non-Jewish Dutch person had received a ration card which was required to obtain weekly coupons to buy food.


Thanks to her charitable work, Corrie knew many people in Haarlem, and remembered a couple who had a disabled daughter. For about twenty years, Corrie had run a special church service program for such children. The father was a civil servant who by then was in charge of the local ration-card office. She went to his house one evening, and he seemed to know why. When he asked how many ration cards she needed, "I opened my mouth to say, 'Five,'" Ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place. "But the number that unexpectedly and astonishingly came out instead was: 'One hundred.'" He gave them to her, and she provided them to every Jew that she met.


Secret room


Because of the number of people using their house, the ten Booms built a secret room in case a raid took place. They decided to build it in Corrie's bedroom, as it was in the highest part of the house. This would give people trying to hide the most time to avoid detection (as a search would start on the ground floor). A member of the Dutch resistance designed the hidden room behind a false wall. Gradually, family and supporters brought bricks and other building supplies into the house by hiding them in briefcases and rolled-up newspapers. When finished, the secret room was about 30 inches (76 cm) deep or 2 and a half ft; the size of a medium wardrobe. A ventilation system allowed for breathing. To enter the secret room, a person had to open a sliding panel in the plastered brick wall under a bottom bookshelf and crawl in on hands and knees. In addition, the family installed an electric buzzer for warning in a raid. When the Nazis raided the ten Boom house in 1944, six people used the hiding place to evade detection.


Arrest and detention


On February 28, 1944, with the help of a Dutch informant, the Nazis learned of the work the ten Booms were doing and arrested the entire ten Boom family at around 12:30 p.m. The family was sent first to Scheveningen prison where their elderly father died ten days after his arrest. While there, Corrie's sister Nollie, brother Willem, and nephew Peter were all released. Later, Corrie and sister Betsie were sent to the Vught political concentration camp, and finally to the Ravensbrück death camp in Germany. Betsie died there on December 16, 1944. Before she died, she told Corrie, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."


Betsie ten Boom


Betsie was Corrie's loving, spiritual, kind-hearted, forgiving sister, who stood by Corrie throughout all of their hardships. Her prayers allowed Corrie to humble herself and say, "Lord pay attention to her prayers." Betsie was a thin, sickly woman with a firm foundation of God. She constantly was thankful for what she had. She thanked God in the concentration camp for fleas! This was because the infestation kept the guards out of the prisoners' quarters, so they were able to keep a contraband Bible and conduct group religious studies.


Corrie's release

Corrie was released on December 28, 1944. In the movie The Hiding Place, Corrie narrates the section on her release from camp, saying that she later learned that her release had been a clerical error. The women prisoners her age in the camp were killed the week following her release. She said, "God does not have problems. Only plans." The Jews whom the ten Booms had been hiding at the time of their arrests remained undiscovered and all but one, an old woman named Mary, survived.


Post-war


After the war, Corrie returned to the Netherlands to set up rehabilitation centers. The refuge houses consisted of concentration camp survivors and sheltered the jobless Dutch who previously collaborated with Germans during the occupation. She returned to Germany in 1946, and traveled the world as a public speaker, appearing in over sixty countries, during which time she wrote many books.

Corrie told the story of her family and their work during World War II in her best selling book, The Hiding Place (1971), which was made into a film by World Wide Pictures in 1975.


Life after the war


After the war, she traveled to 60 different countries, preaching, and through her, many people became Christians. In 1977, Corrie, then 85 years old, moved to Placentia, California. In 1978, she suffered two strokes, the first rendering her unable to speak, and the second resulting in paralysis. She lived as an invalid for the remaining five years of her life, dying on her 91st birthday (April 15, 1983) following a third stroke.


Honors

• Israel honored ten Boom by naming her Righteous Among the Nations.

• Corrie was knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in recognition of her work during the war.

• The Ten Boom Museum in Haarlem is dedicated to her and her family for their work.

• The King's College in New York City named a new women's house in her honor.


Religious views


Her teaching focused on the Christian Gospel, with emphasis on forgiveness. In her book Tramp for the Lord (1974), she tells the story of an encounter while she was teaching in Germany in 1947. She was approached by a former Ravensbrück camp guard, who had been known as one of the most cruel. She was reluctant to forgive him, but prayed that she would be able to. Corrie wrote,

"For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."


She also wrote (in the same passage) that in her post-war experience with other victims of Nazi brutality, it was those who were able to forgive who were best able to rebuild their lives. She appeared on many Christian television programs discussing her ordeal during the Holocaust, and the concepts of forgiveness and God's love. She rejected the doctrine that some asserted, of Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and wrote that it was without Biblical foundation. She believed that such a doctrine left the Christian Church ill-prepared in times of great persecution, such as in China under Mao Zedong. One of Corrie and Betsie's favorite sayings was, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."