My Grandmother always taught me to never forget the past, she taught me about the wars and life lessons she has been witness to in her 88 years of life. Much of my childhood and young adult years were watching shows revolving around World War II. When I found the book, The Hiding Place, I was shocked I had never heard of Corrie Ten Boom and her heroic efforts to save hundreds of Jewish victims from the Holocaust. Once I bought my ticket to Amsterdam, I knew I needed to visit The Hiding Place Museum in Haarlem.
Tickets for The Hiding Place Museum:
The Corrie Ten Boom home is still connected to a jewelry shop and has limited space within the home — you must book your tickets online.The tickets need to be booked five days in advance of when you are planning on visiting the museum.
Reserve your tickets for The Hiding Place Museum, and learn of the courageous efforts of the Ten Boom family.
Getting to Haarlem:
Address: Corrie Ten boom House 19 Barteljorisstraat | North Holland, 2002 CE Haarlem, The Netherlands
Getting to the Corrie Ten Boom home is fairly easy from Amsterdam. I would suggest taking the train from Amsterdam Centraal Station towards Haarlem. Once you exit the train station it is about a 15-minute walk or 5-minute bike ride to The Hiding Place Museum. Here is a Map to The Hiding Place Museum, from Rome2Rio.
Once you reserve your ticket, you will arrive at the home and go into the side door of the home behind the jewelry shop. The door will be locked and closed with times of when each tour starts. Once your tour is about to start, the door will open and you will be greeted by a volunteer from the church that Corrie Ten Boom had been associated with.
Who was Corrie Ten Boom:
It was 1837 when William Ten Boom, Corrie’s Grandfather set up his clock shop and opened his home to all dedicated Christian’s who wished to worship. The family lived by the Biblical verse Psalm 122:6
Pray for peace for Jerusalem: “May those who love you be at peace!”
Their family held weekly prayer service, open to all who wished to participate for over 100 years. This dedicated family welcomed anyone into their home who wished to pray, no matter what their religion was. This likely set them up in the community as the natural source of leadership, which was vital in saving hundreds of innocent lives in the coming years.
Casper Ten Boom, Corrie’s father, began to have prayer meetings that included Jewish members in increasing numbers. The persecution of the Jewish people had started in Holland, and the need for a safe place became increasingly vital.
Their home was turned into a place of refuge, a Hiding Place, for as many as seven to ten Jewish people and the Dutch Underground members who were being hunted. Led by several generations of good examples, Corrie Ten Boom took the baton of the family with her faith in God and became the leader for the Dutch Underground in Haarlem.
Why was it called the Hiding Place:
When you enter the Museum, there doesn’t appear to be many places to hide ten adults from the Gestapo. The guide leads you up into a large room and several chairs set up in a circle, just as it would have been in Corrie’s time. There were pictures on the wall of family members, and Corrie Ten Boom herself.
After I acclimatized to all of the visual stimuli in the room, from the book Corrie Ten Boom write, and I so cherished as a child — I noticed a sheet of music on the piano titled, “You are My Hiding Place”. This touched me in a way that I didn’t expect. Not only was the home itself a Hiding Place, but the songs that must have been sung here preached that God is our hiding place.
Now for those of you who may not believe in God, I hope you can appreciate that their belief in a higher deity is what helped bring them through one of the darkest times in European history.
After a short history lesson from our guide on who the family was, how prayer meetings were held and eventually morphed into a full-scale rescue operation.
We were taken upstairs and told of how there was a bell in the kitchen downstairs that would be pressed, and only the people there for hiding could hear it. Once the bell rung, they would rush into a room at the back that had a false back on the bottom half of the bookshelf. A brick wall had been built providing just enough room for ten refugees to stand upright in this small space, for as long as it took to let the danger pass.
Nothing was allowed in this small space so as not to attract rodents, and give away the Hiding Place. The area was not insulated from the bitter cold winters, so being trapped in this place was not ideal.
As you read the book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom writes of the training she received to be able to be woken in the middle of the night and evade the questioning of the Gestapo who would comb the Haarlem neighborhoods looking for Jews and traitors. There were several close calls with the Gestapo, and eventually, they were betrayed by a community member who knew of their operation; but not before they were able to save nearly 800 Jewish lives.
Those who were taking refuge in the home were able to escape, and three of the four Jewish members in the home at that time survived the war. One even came back to the Hiding Place, unknown to the Museum staff, to face the harrowing two days of being trapped in The Hiding Place while the Gestapo combed through the Ten Boom home. The museum staff told the moving story of being able to meet a man who had benefited from the Ten Boom’s efforts during the war.
They may have been caught, but as you read the book of Corrie being separated from her beloved father, placed with her sister in the brutal Ravensbruck. You realize just how deeply courageous she was, and the dedication to her faith could inspire anyone. Everyone Corrie met both inside and outside the concentration camp was both inspired and infused with hope, due to her ability to resist fear and despair in the face of evil. Several camp prisoners in the Ten Boom bunker were converted to Christianity due to their faith while being imprisoned.
Who was the involved in the Resistance?
Corrie was the ringleader for the Haarlem underground. Her “Beje group” strategically search for families willing, able, and courageous enough to harbor refugees and members of the Dutch Underground movement. Much of Corrie’s time was spent finding ways to feed the refugees, continue to give them hope and so forth despite rations being severely limited throughout Holland.
The sign in the window of the shop was used to let members of the Underground know that the area was safe when it was in the window. The night that Corrie and her family were taken, they were unable to remove this from the window — and 20 other members of the Underground movement were caught and brutally treated in order to obtain names of other members. Fortunately, they held on as long as they could, so that those members and subsequent refugees would have time to escape and relocate to other safe havens within the city.
Lessons from the Past:
At the time of the capture of the Ten Boom home, two Jewish men, two Jewish women, and two members of the Dutch underground were hidden behind the brick wall of the Hiding Place. They were forced to stand for two days, in the middle of the harsh winter in that small space without food, water, or bathroom — remaining deadly quiet to save their own lives.
The house remained under guard to catch any other members of the Underground movement in the area. One of the survivors remembers there were two guards that played cards in a nearby room, while his heart pounded from the fear of being caught. Two days after the initial seige, the refugees were able to climb out a window onto the roof and make their way to another safe house.
Why were the Ten Boom’s taken, if the refugees were not caught or found in their home? The Gestapo scoured the house and found extra ration cards and some of the Underground operation materials within their home. Corrie’s father, Casper, was 84 years old at the time and was taken to Scheveningen Prison, where he died 10 days after arriving. When he was asked why he would risk his life for the Jewish people, when he was Christian, he responded eloquently by saying, “It would be an honor to give my life for God’s ancient people”.
Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie spent time in three different concentration camps over the next 10 months. The last camp, was Ravensbruck Concentration camp, right near Berlin .
I don’t know that I will ever understand why they were betrayed, or that God didn’t warn the family that was so dedicated to him and to doing good. One thing I will take away from this story is that Corrie Ten Boom was true to what she believed was right; she was the change she wished to see in the world and saved hundreds of lives from never giving up hope that things could change.
The brutality that human beings inflict upon one another is unlike anything else in the animal kingdom, this is a fact. It is the warped sense of feeling ‘our way’ is the ‘right way’, that leads to derision and war. Seeking first to understand another’s mindset, religion, culture is the first step to making the world what we want it to be. While I truly believe this is the first step, we must fortify ourselves against the inevitable reality that there will always be humans who for whatever reason….refuse to understand or take this first step. Do not give up hope in your efforts, take the message of the Ten Boom family’s efforts to heart and realize that with dedication, heart, faith, and effort — lives are impacted and may one day be saved from the despair that seems to be ever present in this aging world.
The Ending of the Story and A Message For All:
We all have our own internal demons, people who may have harmed us that it is difficult to forgive. I have my own past that is fraught with traumatic events from people I feel never got justice for stealing my self-worth, trust in humanity, and the ability to have a relationship. I don’t know how long it will take to forgive the people that caused these unsavory characteristics. I don’t know if I will be able to have a family of my own, or if my efforts in this platform will be of use to anyone. What I do know, is that in those moments I lose hope….I feel I let my past win.
So I keep the messages from the book, The Hiding Place, close to my mind and heart. I am trying to use the example of Corrie Ten Boom and many others – to forgive, forget, and let God into my life again. As Corrie Ten Boom said once,
“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still,” and “God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies”.
God bless all those who gave their lives and put themselves at risk to save the Jewish people in Europe. May those who did not survive rest in peace, and be remembered for their courage and fortitude. I hope that the world and those who fight for good, may remember the past and stand in the face of ridicule and danger, to help these things not be repeated.
Make a Donation to the Corrie Ten Boom – The Hiding Place Museum, and help them continue to operate this house and spread the message of forgiveness and love to all who enter.
As Always, Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side.
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Janiel Green is a Travel Guru with 21 years of National travel experience in the USA, and 17 years of International Travel experience. She is a highly educated, courageous, driven and dedicated individual to both her professional and personal life. She is the Founder of Culture Trekking LLC, and is dedicated to bringing a celebratory passion for humanity into her writing to make meaningful, useful, and heartfelt recommendations for a culturally enriched travel experience. For inquires please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org