Hi everyone! Today I’m here with a review of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This is one of those books I have heard a lot about for years. And I know the premise of it as well. But I had never read it. So while it’s not a very old book, I added it to my Classics Club list.
A few initial thoughts:
- WWII was a truly horrific time for both Jews and others in Europe. It was so interesting to learn about the Ten Boom’s role in the resistance and how they each cope with the challenges of the war.
- Faith can triumph over despair just like light will always overcome darkness.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom follows the true story of Corrie and her family in Holland during WWII. They become part of the resistance (including constructing a hiding place in their home) and help Jews escape arrest and death at the hands of the Nazis. When they are arrested after a Nazi raid, Corrie and her family are sent to prison and eventually to a German concentration camp. While there, Corrie must decide to either trust in her faith in God or give into despair.
Honestly, this book was difficult for me to get into at first. I started it three different times and had to review what had happened early. While I appreciated the background on Corrie’s childhood and life before the war, it got a bit long for me. It showed the way life was so intensely altered by the occupation for everyone–not just Jews.
The book actually picked up for me when they were arrested and began their experiences in prison. It was fascinating to see how Corrie and her sister Betsie cope with their experiences, especially in the foul Ravensbrück concentration camp. That place was truly a horror and it was shocking to read of their living and working conditions.
Corrie is a brilliant narrator because she is human. She becomes the leader of the resistance at the ten Boom home and watch shop. I was impressed by her resilience and determination to do what is best for people–regardless of their religious or political views. But I think she is more endearing because she is not always positive. While in isolation in prison and at Ravensbrück, she becomes discouraged by the lack of food, over work, cramped living conditions, weather, and bugs.
Betsie is amazing because she does not ever give into depression or anger because of their living conditions. She finds something to be grateful for in all situations–something I hope to be better at after reading this book. I love when she thanks God for the fleas. Corrie is initially unable to be thankful for them. However, they are able to hold Bible study uninterrupted inside. Then Corries learns that the guards will not come into their bunker because of the fleas, and she understands.
One of my favorite parts in this book is the story Papa tells Corrie about the traveling case. When Corrie does not understand a tough issue, her father compares it to his traveling case. He wouldn’t require her to carry it alone as a small child because it was too heavy. So it is with hard issues.
“It would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
And I was satisfied. More than satisfied–wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions–for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.
The Hiding Place, page 42
It is incredible that this simple story sustains Corrie through her difficult experiences in prison, in the concentration camp, as she looses her father and sister Betsie, and as she builds a life after the war. If she doesn’t understand, she asks God to carry that knowledge. Another moving lesson from this book.
The most incredible part of this book is the ending. Corrie leaves a legacy of hope and love from her experiences. Rather than give into hate, she teaches tolerance and understanding. The visions Betsie has of teaching and healing are incredibly moving. Even more so when Corrie finds the house, the paint color, the message that Betsie perfectly described in her final hours of life. I think this quote sums up that message:
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When he tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
The Hiding Place, page 248
And so I finished The Hiding Place determined to be a little kinder, forgive a little quicker, and live a little better. What a beautiful moral.
Have you read The Hiding Place? What are your thoughts?