Alongside her family in the city of Haarlem, Corrie ten Boom used a hidden chamber inside her bedroom to keep hundreds of would-be victims safe from the Nazis and out of concentration camps.
On May 10, 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. World War II had arrived on the country’s doorstep, and life for Corrie ten Boom, a 48-year-old watchmaker in the Dutch city of Haarlem, changed forever.
Until the war, Corrie had lived with her sister and elderly father in the home she’d grown up in above her father’s watch shop. Corrie and her family were deeply religious Calvinist Christians, and they saw Jews as “God’s chosen people.” For most of their lives, they’d lived a fairly quiet existence, their days revolving around church and the family watchmaking businesses.
The ten Boom family met the Nazi occupation with acute distress — they had Jewish friends and customers and watched helplessly as the Nazis started deporting Dutch Jews to concentration camps.
But then came a rap on their door.
In March 1942, a Jewish woman named Mrs. Kleermaker came to the watch shop. She told the ten Booms that her husband had been arrested, that her son had gone into hiding, and that she was afraid to return home in case the Nazis were waiting. She had heard that the ten Boom family was sympathetic toward Jews. “In this household,” Corrie’s father, Casper, told her, “God’s people are always welcome.”
Before long, other Jews seeking refuge would follow. Corrie and her family welcomed them all, shielding them from the Nazis’ grip.
With the help of the Dutch resistance, Corrie and her family constructed a tiny, secret room in Corrie’s bedroom, a room they used to offer shelter to neighbors, customers, and anyone else who asked, eventually saving some 800 people from the Nazis and becoming some of the greatest heroes of the Holocaust. Not only did the ten Boom family offer a “hiding place” and hope of escape, but they also fostered an atmosphere of love and fellowship, providing refugees a sanctuary from the horrors of the war.
But all the while, Nazi spies were watching. And after a betrayal by an informant shattered the family’s carefully-constructed rescue operation, Corrie ten Boom was sent to a concentration camp with her sister, who wouldn’t make it out alive. Yet Corrie herself would emerge at the end of the war with a tale of love, resilience, and forgiveness.
Learn more about the incredible story of Corrie ten Boom.