The Hiding Place
by Grace Elizabeth Baack
Picture this: being locked up in a jail cell; having little food or water; working long, hard hours; having health issues because you were given rotting food and dirty water to drink. Well, my story is about a woman who not only saw this happen but experienced it as well. She saw soldiers with evil hearts hurt men, woman and children. She had horrible things happen to her and her sister. She even had two of her family members die because of these tragic events. She also saw people being thrown into gas chambers, but no matter what happened it never took her faith away from God. I call my speech “The Hiding Place” based on the book with the same name by Corrie ten Boom and “Courageous Christians” by Joyce Vollmer Brown.
Corrie ten Boom was born in Holland in 1892. She was the youngest child of 2 siblings. Their names were Betsie and William. Betsie, the oldest, had really big responsibilities like working in the house, and helping in the watch shop that her father owned. Corrie’s family loved the Lord. They spent most of their time praying, and reading the Bible. When Corrie’s mom became sick and died, it was one of the things that made her family draw closer to the Lord. (Brown 11)
When World War 2 started the Germans invaded Holland. All of the Jews were in trouble. Jesus was a Jew so these were his people. His children were being treated like they didn’t matter. The Germans would round up the Jews and put them in concentration camps. The Jews hid in secret places and this is when Corrie’s father told his family, “God’s people are always welcome.” (ten Boom 78). He changed parts of their house and made it into a place of refuge in order to hide the Jews from the Nazis. They did that knowing full well that if they were caught hiding people they would suffer the same fate as the Jews. They made a secret room by using a fake wall in Corrie’s room. They had an alarm set up so that when someone pushed the button it would ring in the other room in order to warn others of soldiers that have come into the shop. They had hiding drills where they would practice over and over again clearing a room in seconds. At their best, they were able to clear a whole room in about 70 seconds. But, that was not easy. They had to double check to make sure that nothing was out of place and that sheets were flipped over because if the soldiers felt body heat that would mean someone was in the room or that there was something fishy about the room. (Brown 11, ten Boom 106)
Everything changed on February 28th 1944. That day the German soldiers stormed into the watch shop. One of the soldiers asked Corrie where the Jews were hiding. He slapped her in the face. He thought she was making fun of him. What he did not know was that there was a secret room behind a wall in Corrie’s room. Corrie, her father, and sister all went to prison. They were there for about 3 months. (Brown 11)
Remember when I said that she lost 2 family members in the introduction? Well, that is when it happened. Corrie’s father died 10 days later. Even though she was really sad, she knew he was in the arms of Christ. The camp they were sent to was called Ravensbrook. People called it the death camp for girls. There she was reunited with Betsie. Ravensbrook was their worst nightmare. They would get one meal a day, have to stand at attention for long hours in freezing weather, and had fleas in their cabin. A guard whipped Corrie in the neck because she was too weak to push a cart of bricks. But what made her angry was seeing her sister being abused. Betsie would encourage
her sister Corrie by saying that they would travel all over when they were released telling people that there was no place on earth that is too dark for God’s love to shine in. Betsie’s dream was to start a home in Holland and Germany where people broken by the war would heal. Betsie was not as physically strong as Corrie and yet she was expected to work just as long and hard as her sister especially in very hot or cold weather. Because of this, about 96,000 women were killed. (Brown 11-12)
Corrie was released from prison only to find out later that her release was a typing error. Corrie found out later that a week after her release all the woman her age were put to death in the gas chamber. Betsie died in prison. She did not live long enough to see God make her dreams come true. (Brown 12)
After the war, Corrie traveled all around Germany sharing about God’s love and forgiveness. During one of her talks she had a man visit her wanting her forgiveness. She realized that he was one of the main guards at her camp. She did not want to forgive him. She asked God to help her forgive this man. She knew God would want her to forgive him so she stuck out her hand and shook his hand and when she did, the over whelming flow of God’s forgiveness came through and she was able to forgive the guard with her whole heart. (Brown 12)
In the future when you are struggling to forgive someone think of Corrie. Matthew states, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven time” (NIV, Matthew 18:21-22). With the Lord’s help you may be able to forgive like her.
Brown, Joyce Vollmer. Courageous Christians. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2000:
ten Boom, Corrie, and John and Elizabeth Sherrill. The Hiding Place. New York: Bantam Books, 1974. Print.
Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). International Bible Society. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. Print.