Archives For Concentration Camps

Betsie, Willem, Nollie Corrie

From the time she was a little girl, Corrie ten Boom’s godly parents and loving, happy family influenced the woman she would become. The lessons she learned from them have touched my heart and helped me grow, and I’d like to share them with you.

Though Corrie’s family had little themselves, they sacrificed to give to the needy people around them. Corrie’s mother was often unwell, but on the days she was strong enough, she brought food and comfort to the poor, or as Corrie described them “forgotten old men and pale young mothers.” The children often accompanied their mother on these visits. One such occasion remained vivid in Corrie’s memory even when she was an old lady. Here it is in her own words . . .

“The night before a baby had died, and with a basket of her own fresh bread, Mama was making the prescribed call on the family. Mama went at once to the young mother, but I stood frozen on the threshold. Just to the right of the door, so still in the homemade crib, was the baby.

It was strange that a society which hid the facts of sex from children made no effort to shield them from death. I stood staring at the tiny, unmoving form with my heart thudding strangely against my ribs. Nollie, always braver than I, stretched out her hand and touched the ivory white cheek. For a while curiosity and terror struggled in me. At last I put one finger on the small curled hand. It was cold.

Ten Boom dining room

Cold as we walked back to the Beje, cold as I washed for supper, cold even in the snug gas-lit dining room. Between me and each familiar face around the table crept those small icy fingers. Death had been only a word. Now I knew that it could really happen—if to the baby, then to Mama, to Father, to Betsie.

Still shivering with that cold, I followed Nollie up to our room and crept into bed beside her. At last we heard Father’s footsteps winding up the stairs. It was the best moment in every day, when he came up to tuck us in. We never fell asleep until he had arranged the blankets in his special way and laid his hand for a moment on each head. Then we tried not to move even a toe.

But that night as he stepped through the door, I burst into tears. ‘I need you!’ I sobbed. ‘You can’t die! You can’t!’

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam—when do I give you your ticket?’

I sniffed a few times, considering this. ‘Why, just before we get on the train.’

‘Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.'”

Her father’s words would often come back to Corrie during her difficult days in the concentration camp. His lesson might best be summed up by this version of Matthew 6:34 from the Message:

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Let this truth soak into your mind and heart today, and you will find the strength you need to face any tomorrow! Or have you already experienced this for yourself? Please, share!

Ten Boom House

Not familiar with Corrie’s story? Born in Holland in 1892, she was 48 when the Nazi’s invaded in 1940. Corrie, her older sister, and elderly father risked their lives to take in Jewish refugees and hide them in a tiny room at the top of their house. Their story was recorded in a book called The Hiding Place and recreated in a movie of the same name.

Read my previous posts about Corrie or purchase a copy of her book for yourself: