Schvengenin

They were taken to The Hague, which was rumoured to be the location of the Gestapo headquarters in Holland. The chief interrogator there seem shocked that Caspar had been arrested.

I’d like to send you home, old fellow. I’ll take your word that you won’t cause any more trouble.
– Gestapo chief

If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door again to any man in need who knocks.
– Caspar

Corrie tried to free the others of blame by admitting to being the ‘ringleader’. It failed and many of the group were moved to prison.

They arrived at Schvengenin Prison, where the ten Boom family were separated. Corrie was sent to a cell shared with three other prisoners. But, after two weeks, she was taken to a doctor, and then to solitary confinement, probably due to illness.

On 20 April, 1944 (Hitler’s birthday), all of the prison guards were absent at a party. The women began to call out to each other through the food holes in their doors, passing names left and right down the corridor. They tried to send messages and find out about other prisoners. Corrie heard rumours of a prospective Allied invasion of Europe, that Nollie had been released more than a month before, and that Betsie was still alive, though in prison. Peter, Pickwick and Willem had all been released as well. There was no word of Caspar.

Soon afterwards, Corrie received a letter and a package from Nollie, containing some of the items from Corrie’s prison bag and the news that Caspar ten Boom had died 10 days after his arrest. Corrie added another date to her list scratched on the wall – ‘Father released’.

Corrie noticed that the handwriting on the envelope was slanting up towards the stamp in an unusual way. Upon investigation, Corrie found that there was a message hidden under the stamp: ‘All the watches in your closet are safe’. Corrie knew that those hidden in the secret room were still safe.

Late in May, 1944, Corrie was finally interrogated. She was given a list of names to see if she could identify any of them. She realised, for the first time, the value of the ubiquitous Smit, because she knew none of the names, and could not give away any signal of recognition. It became clear to her that the Gestapo believed that the Beje had been the headquarters of raids on food ration offices, while Corrie knew nothing beyond her own cards.

Over three successive mornings Lieutenant Rahms gave up the pretence of questioning her, telling her of his family, and asking about her pre-war life in Holland. At a later date, he took Corrie to the reading of her father’s will. There she was reunited with her family, and learned that Kik had been caught and sent on a prison train… probably to Germany. She was also told that the local police chief had arranged for a couple of sympathetic officers to be assigned to surveillance duties of the Beje; and they had sent the Jews to new hiding places. Before she left, Nollie gave Corrie a bible in a pouch that could be hung round her neck.

Some time after this, an order was given to the prisoners to prepare for an evacuation. Spotting Betsie in the crowd waiting to board the train, Corrie forced her way towards her. The four months in Schvengenin had been their only time apart in 53 years, and Corrie felt more confident besides Betsie.

They arrived at Vught, a Concentration Camp for political prisoners, where they were given forms, which another prisoner told them meant they were to be released. Instead, they were sent into the main camp. Corrie was shaken by this disappointment, but Betsie saw it as a chance to share God’s word.

 

ten boom house

The Beje

Cornelia (Corrie) Arnolda Johanna ten Boom was born on 15 April, 1892, the youngest of four children. The others were Willem, Betsie, and Nollie. Her devoutly Christian family lived with three of Corrie’s aunts in a house called the ‘Beje’, which was situated above her father’s watch shop in Haarlem, the Netherlands. But, by the time the war began, only she, Betsie, and their father, Caspar, remained in the Beje. Corrie followed her father into the watch making business, becoming the first female horologist in Haarlem.

The Hiding Place is the story of the ten Boom family during World War II. It is Corrie’s personal memoir of the events that she experienced. And it is also a personal statement of her faith as a Christian.

The story of The Hiding Place opens in 1937 with the 100th birthday of the watch shop. This introduces the reader to all the major characters of the story: the whole ten Boom family, as well as ‘Oom’ Hermann Sluring (known as Pickwick), a wealthy friend of the family. At this party Corrie received the first hint of her future, when Willem (who had been preaching of the dangers of Nazism as early as 1927) arrived at the party with a Jew, who had just escaped from Germany.

 

ten boom house

Dachau Concentration Camp

The Dachau concentration camp was the first regular concentration camp established by the Nazis in March 1933.

The Hiding Place in the Corrie Ten Boom Museum

Much of Corrie’s time was spent caring for these people once they were in hiding. Through these activities, the ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.