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Free Study Guide for The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

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THE HIDING PLACE ONLINE NOTES

CHAPTER SIX - The Secret Room

Summary

The chapter begins on Sunday, May 10, 1942. The occupation had grown more strict and harsh. Now the Dutch were even forbidden to sing their national anthem. Peter had won a post as the organist at a small church in Velsen, a small port town not far from Haarlem. On this Sunday, the ten Booms were attending church there to hear him. The church was packed when they arrived, because the Dutch were rediscovering their religious roots now that the Germans occupied their country. After the closing prayers had been said, Peter suddenly and without warning, broke into the national anthem. Everyone rose to their feet, Father being the first up, and sang lustily the song that meant so much to them. Afterwards, everyone wanted to shake his hand and thank him for giving them that wonderful moment. But Corrie, in spite of her pride in her nephew, was also angry at him, out of fear that the Gestapo would hear. It could impact on all of them, not just him. Her fears came true when the police came for him three days later and took him to the federal prison in Amsterdam.


Peter had been in prison for two weeks when the ten Booms received a knock at their alley door. There stood a woman dressed in heavy outwear and carrying a suitcase. She introduced herself as Mrs. Kleermaker, a Jew, and told them that she had heard that they had befriended Mr. Weil. Now she needed their help as well. Two nights later, it happened again, and they ended up with three Jews hidden in their house. Since the Beje was only a half a block from the police station, they went to Willem again for help. Unfortunately, Willem was being watched and couldn’t help them, because his contacts in the countryside would only take Jews with ration cards. He told Corrie that to get ration cards, she would either have to counterfeit them or steal them. On the way home, Corrie remembered Fred Koonrstra, a man who used to read their electric meter. He now had a new job in the Food Office. She went to him, and he explained how they could set up a fake robbery and when he asked her how many cards she needed, she surprised herself by replying, “One hundred.” A week later, she returned to his home, and he had all the cards she had asked for, and he had even made it possible for her to return to the office once a month and receive one hundred more. They decided though that it would be safer for Fred to pretend he was once again reading the electric meter and bring them to the ten Boom house each month. He would place the cards in the hollow of a step she pried up and then leave the house again. They decided to test this plan on July 1, 1942. Just before Fred was to arrive, Rolf van Vliet, a policeman they knew, stepped into the shop. Corrie’s throat went dry as the man chose to continue a conversation with Father and didn’t leave immediately. Fred arrived without any warning, but kept his calm and delivered the cards, and Rolf never knew the difference. However, Corrie knew they needed some kind of warning system.

Besides the warning system, other problems cropped up as people continued to come to their house for help. Willem told them again that they would have to find their own resources, and at first, Corrie worried that she had taken on an impossible task. But then she realized that her family knew half of the people in Haarlem, people in records offices and hospitals and in businesses and in services. They didn’t know the political views of all these people, but God did, and He would help.

A few nights later, the bell rang again, and when Corrie answered the door, her nephew, Kik, stood there. He told her to get her bicycle and come with him. He took her to a fashionable home in the wealthy suburb of Aardenhout. It was the home of Pickwick, and Kik began to introduce her to many people there who never gave their real name and always told her to ask for Smit if they needed help. Kik explained that Smit was the only last name in the underground. Their chief work was to maintain a liaison with the English and the Free Dutch Forces, and they offered her many of their services, from the use of a car to false identity papers. One of the men there informed her that Pickwick had told him her home lacked a hiding place and that he would pay them a visit in the coming weeks. Years later, she learned he was one of the most famous architects in Europe, but she only ever knew him as Mr. Smit. Just as she and Kik were about to leave, Pickwick gave them very good news. Peter was about to be released.

So Peter came home three days later, and Mr. Smit arrived to “inspect” the house. He first designed a warning system, using the sign which said “Alpina Watches.” If the sign were in place, it was safe to enter. He then looked all over the house for a spot to build a secret room and decided that Corrie’s room was the best place. He explained that they would build a false wall big enough to hide a cot mattress behind it. Corrie didn’t want it there, but over the next few days, workmen arrived and began the job anyway. When it was finished, the room looked as old as all the rooms in the house, and the new wall held built-in bookshelves under which was a sliding panel that opened into the secret room. Mr. Smit also explained that whenever an official visit was made, not only the person to be hidden must go in there, but also everything he had brought with him. He declared that the Gestapo could search for a year and never find that room.

Notes

This chapter shows how slowly, but surely, the ten Boom family becomes more involved in the underground movement. They are able to compromise their beliefs when necessary, because it is for the good of innocent people who are in danger. So the Hiding Place is born and with it, their responsibility to fight evil in the name of God.

 


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