Corrie ten Boom: A Heroic Tale of Sacrifice and Forgiveness During the Holocaust

The Untold Story of Corrie ten Boom and Her Family’s Brave Acts

Corrie ten Boom, a name etched in history for her extraordinary courage during the dark days of World War II. From 1940 to 1944, Corrie and her family turned their home in the Netherlands into a sanctuary for Jews escaping the Nazis. This gripping account unveils the remarkable journey of the ten Boom family, blending heroism, sacrifice, and the power of forgiveness.

Early Life of Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom c. 1921
Corrie ten Boom c. 1921. Source: Wikipedia

Born on April 15, 1892, Corrie grew up in a devout Calvinist family. The ten Booms, led by her father Casper, lived above their watch shop, fostering a close-knit environment. Corrie’s fascination with watchmaking led her to become Holland’s first licensed female watchmaker in 1922. As she honed her craft, she also devoted herself to community service, establishing a youth club for young girls, offering religious instruction and classes.

The Storm Clouds Gather

The Watch Shop & residence of the ten Boom family.
The Watch Shop & residence of the ten Boom family. Source: DBU

As the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, the ten Boom family faced a perilous turning point. Recognizing the growing danger for Jewish citizens, the family, guided by their faith, began sheltering Jews in a secret room. This humble hiding place, a closet-sized refuge, became a beacon of hope for those fleeing persecution. The ten Booms’ commitment to equality and respect for all human beings, especially Jews, drove them to open their doors to those in need.

Betrayal and Capture

In 1944, a traitorous informant led the Nazis to the ten Boom’s doorstep. The Gestapo raided their home, leading to the arrest of Corrie, her sister Bestie, and their father Casper. Remarkably, the secret room concealed the Jews, saving them from capture. The family’s unwavering commitment to their beliefs, even in the face of betrayal, showcases the depth of their convictions.

Surviving the Unthinkable

Despite their arrest, Corrie and Bestie endured months in concentration camps. Tragically, Bestie perished at Ravensbrück, emphasizing the brutal conditions prisoners faced. Corrie’s release, due to a clerical error, spared her from the gas chamber, but not from the pain of losing her sister and father. The resilience and fortitude displayed by Corrie during this period are a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

Postwar Resilience and Forgiveness

Returning home to a changed world, Corrie displayed remarkable resilience. She established a rehabilitation center for Holocaust survivors, echoing her sister’s belief that “there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” Corrie’s act of forgiveness towards a former captor showcased the strength of her convictions. The power of forgiveness became a central theme in Corrie’s postwar life, as she spread a message of healing and reconciliation.

Legacy and International Impact

Corrie spent her later years traveling globally, sharing her message of forgiveness. Recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations, she, along with her family, saved around 800 lives. Corrie passed away on April 15, 1983, leaving a legacy of compassion and bravery. The symmetry of her birth and death on the same day, considered a blessing in Judaism, underscores the completion of her impactful mission on Earth.

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