Even though Peter had come home, he was still not safe, because German soldiers were using a method of forced servitude that the Dutch called the “razzia.” They would perform a lightning search and seizure of all the young men they could find and transport them away to work in munitions factories. One night, it happened in their neighborhood, and Peter and his older brother, Bob, rushed into Nollie’s house, looking for a place to hide. Nollie put them in her secret spot in the potato cellar under the kitchen table. When the soldiers burst down the door, they demanded the boys’ younger sister, Cocky, tell them where her brothers were. Without missing beat, she said they were under the table. When the soldiers lifted up the tablecloth, Cocky began to laugh, and so did everyone else. The soldiers, feeling humiliated, left, and the ten Booms spent the rest of the evening feeling both grateful for their safety and arguing over Cocky’s insistence on telling the truth. Nollie stood by her daughter and said, “God honors truth-telling with perfect protection!” Corrie finally realized that the argument was unsolvable and that even though they were often forced to lie, like Christ, they could honor both truth and love at the same time - by dying, if necessary. It was a significant realization for her, and one which would help her through the next few years.
One day, Harry de Vries and his wife, Cato, came to the shop in the daylight rather than the night, and Corrie knew something serious had happened. When they had seated him, he explained that an NSB member had confiscated his shop in the name of the state, and Harry knew he was now a security risk. That was the first problem to arise now that hiding places for the Jews were becoming less and less available. Also, a woman named Mrs. De Boer told Corrie that she had twenty Jews hiding in her attic, all young people, and that they were becoming more and more noisy because of being cooped up inside for so long. However, she accepted Harry and Cato as borders when Corrie asked.
The winter of 1943 was very cold; Christoffels was found frozen in his bed, because fuel was scarce. The ten Booms accepted the responsibility of burying him. One week later, Cato burst into their home and told them that the Jewish boys at Mrs. De Boer’s house had finally gone outside and were arrested. They gave up everyone in the home, including Mrs. De Boer and Harry. Cato went to the police station for the next three nights trying to get Harry released. Then, Rolf van Vliet came to the watch shop to have his watch “repaired” and gave them the news that Harry would be taken to Amsterdam the next day. So if they wanted to see him, they must come promptly at three that day. Harry told them all goodbye and promised Corrie that he would use the place where they were taking him as his witness stand for Jesus. Corrie believed that she would never see him again.
Corrie now knew that Rolf would be of help to her underground activities, and she went to see him to ask what he would like in return for his kindness. He told her that the son of the cleaning lady at the jail was looking for a place to hide from the razzia and perhaps Corrie could help. The ten Booms offered help by sending the boy to a tulip farmer. The boy’s mother was so grateful that she promised Corrie she would do whatever she wanted should the need arise. Corrie, however, couldn’t see how such a simple little soul could ever be of help to their work.
Corrie also worried more and more about how long they could go on with each new danger coming to their door. One day, an intern from the maternity hospital left a young Jewish woman and her baby with them at the same time Fred Koonrstra was bringing the ration cards. It was a very frightening moment for everyone, but Corrie accepted the baby and his mother. Later, a pastor from one of the local churches came into the shop and Corrie believed this might be the answer for the problem of the baby. She brought the man upstairs and showed him the baby, but he refused to put his and his family’s lives on the line for a Jewish child. Father then took the baby in his own arms and said to the pastor, “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.” The pastor still refused, and Corrie was forced to send the mother and baby to a farm which was not considered very safe any more. A few weeks later, the farm was raided, and she never learned what happened to the Jewish mother and child.
Even though they had a telephone, the ten Booms could never be sure the line wasn’t tapped, so they worked out a code in terms of watches. One day, Corrie received a message that the caller had a man’s watch that was giving him trouble, and he couldn’t find anyone to repair it. It had an old-fashioned face as well. This told Corrie that the person needing help had obvious Jewish features and would be immediately arrested. So, at 7:00 PM that evening, the new curfew time, the knock came at the door, and thus entered Meyer Mossel into their home. Corrie immediately liked his smiling attitude and concern for their comfort. He struck up a friendship with Father and became an integral part of their home. They decided to give him a less Jewish name and chose Eusebius Smit, Eusie for short. They even managed to get him to eat non-kosher food.
Because there were so many people living at the Beje, Pickwick insisted that they must put buzzers in every place that might expose them to danger and that they must practice their warning system. A “Mr. Smit” came to the house and explained to Corrie how she must prepare for a raid. Then, he had them all sit down to lunch and rang the buzzer when they weren’t prepared. After the drill, he showed them the incriminating evidence they had left behind. He warned them they needed to get their time down to one minute, but they only were able to make it to their hiding place in about two minutes. Nonetheless, Corrie was satisfied that they were much better prepared.
Then, three new people came into the Beje, one of whom worried Corrie the
most: Mary Itallie, who was seventy-six and asthmatic. However, the group
voted that Mary be allowed to stay even though she could be a danger to
them all. So their little family was formed. Even though others came and
went for short periods of time, the last seven they had taken in, including
Eusie and Mary, stayed on indefinitely.
This chapter reinforces the great dangers the ten Booms face in working with the underground. Even though they take as many precautions as possible, Corrie is under the stress of knowing that it could all blow up in their faces at any time. Nonetheless, with Father the strongest among them, they accept whatever fate will befall them, because they know they are doing God’s work. Father says that he would consider it an honor to give up his life and the lives of his family to save a two week old Jewish baby. It is foreshadowing of what is yet to befall them.
Cite this page:
Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Hiding Place".
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