Faith Heroes

Corrie ten Boom

by Danielle from San Diego


"Give the child to me, Corrie,' he said. Father held the baby close, his white beard brushing its cheek, looking into the little face with eyes as blue and innocent as the baby's own. At last he looked up at 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."(Corrie ten Boom The Hiding Place) Spoken almost prophetically by her father, Corrie ten Boom would not only try to save the life of this Jewish child, but successfully help save the lives of over 800 Jews threatened by extinction at the hands of the Nazis. Ten Boom lived a quiet life in Haarlem, Holland. She resided with her father and her sister, working as a watchmaker in her father's shop. Life was quiet and simple for the Ten Booms, until the Nazis invaded Holland. She then began working with the underground resistance, helping to hide Jews throughout the Netherlands. The Ten Boom family was arrested by the Gestapo for their actions. Corrie survived the concentration camps, and traveled the world, sharing her story that inspired others. She is viewed as a hero by many around the world. A hero is one who possesses courage to do what is right, even in the darkest circumstances; compassion for people, even when they do not deserve it; and a strong foundation in a faith that is bigger than themselves. Corrie ten Boom stood up against evil by taking Jews into her home, and suffered in the concentration camps for this cause. This displays courage, compassion, and faith. 

 Betsie, Willem, Nollie, & Corrie Ten Boom 1897 (
Betsie, Willem, Nollie, & Corrie Ten Boom 1897 (

  Courage is defined as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty." This definition depicts the character of Corrie ten Boom. Ten Boom was a woman of courage. She did what she believed was right in the midst of danger. When the Nazis invaded Holland, where Ten Boom lived, she took action: "As the situation grew more dangerous, the Ten Booms started taking in resistance fighters hiding from the Gestapo and "underdivers" (Dutch Jews and young men wanted by the police). Dozens of them over a period of about four years used the Beje (the nickname given to the Ten Boom residence) as a stopover on their way to other places, and about six to eight people stayed permanently... On February 28, 1944, the Beje was raided by the Gestapo. Everyone inside the house was arrested, as was anyone who came to the shop that day. In all, thirty-five people were taken into custody... Six people who had hidden in the secret room stayed there for nearly three days before managing to escape." ("Corrie ten Boom." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines). Ten Boom was brave enough to take wanted men into her home that she didn't even know, risking the lives of her family and herself. Knowing that her actions to save the lives of Jews from the hands of the Nazis would cause her life and her family's lives to be in jeopardy, she confronted the danger and chose to follow through, resulting in saving the lives of over 800 Jews. This decision didn't come without a price; Ten Boom suffered physical beatings at the hands of the Gestapo: "Kapteyn (a Gestapo officer) prodded me through the front room and pushed me against the wall. 'Where are the Jews?' 'There aren't any Jews here.' The man struck me across the face. 'Where do you hide the ration cards?' 'I don't know what your--' Kapteyn hit me again. I staggered up against the astronomical clock. Before I could recover he slapped me again, then again, and again, stinging blows that jerked my head backwards. 'Where are the Jews?' Another blow. 'Where is your secret room?' I tasted blood in my mouth. My head spun, my ears rang- I was losing consciousness. 'Lord Jesus,' I cried out, 'protect me!" (Corrie ten Boom The Hiding Place). Ten Boom was willing to endure pain for the sake of others. When the officials came to arrest the Ten Boom family, she bore the blows without revealing the secret hiding place. She could have easily told the Gestapo where she was hiding her Jews, but she held her ground, and did not give in. By doing this, she brought torture upon herself, and made herself the victim instead of the people hiding in her home. Ten Boom was courageous because of her actions. She helped the Jews during WWII, putting the lives of her family, friends, and herself in danger. She endured pain for the sake of others, and for her ultimate goal, which was to keep the people in her house safe. These acts of courage led people to see Ten Boom as a compassionate woman, revealing her true character.

Ten Boom in 1915 (
Ten Boom in 1915 (

  Ten Boom's compassion was one of her most well-known traits. Her heart for people shined through her everyday acts of kindness: "In addition to working in the watch shop and caring for the children in the Beje, Corrie conducted Bible classes in the public schools and taught Sunday school, making a special effort to reach out to the mentally retarded..... To help those they could not shelter in Haarlem, the ten Booms also established a network of "safe houses" in the country. Corrie was the overseer of all these operations." ("Corrie ten Boom." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines) Ten Boom not only helped the Jews in WWII, but also homeless children, brain damaged children, and people with less money than herself. She not only saw these people, she took action and reached out to them. What was most visible about Ten Boom's compassion was her forgiveness: "It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there - The roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. 'How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.' he said. 'To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!' His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not even the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. 'Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness'. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. 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." (Corrie ten Boom The Hiding Place). Like any other human being, Ten Boom struggled. She could have hardened her heart towards this man, which is a natural human emotion. No one would have faulted her for not extending forgiveness to her former enemy. But she knew in her heart, and through the basis of her faith, that withholding forgiveness from him was morally wrong.  Ten Boom showed compassion through her everyday acts of kindness. These little acts grew into something bigger, making her into one of the most respected heroes of WWII.  She struggled with forgiveness like any other person would, but was able to pull through, using her faith as her guide. 

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  Ten Boom's faith is clearly seen throughout her story. While most people would lose faith while in a concentration camp, Ten Boom stayed true to her beliefs. She even stated that she grew stronger in her faith: "But as the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear. And that was the reason the two of us (Corrie and Betsie) were here. Why others should suffer we were not shown. As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope. Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light. The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God... Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory." (Corrie ten Boom The Hiding Place). Ten Boom was able to rise above the circumstances, and find beauty in the most horrid of places. She was able to gather inner strength from her Christian belief, and it helped sustain her in the midst of the evil that surrounded her. As a result, her faith grew, and she was able to be a source of strength for others: "...Corrie came home from the death camp. She realized her life was a gift from God, and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck: 'There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still' and 'God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies.'" (History. Corrie Ten Boom House Foundation) Betsie, Ten Boom's sister, uttered these words, and they became a reality f or Ten Boom the rest of her life. She repeated these words as she traveled around the world, sharing her story and the truth of God's forgiveness. Ten Boom shows her strength in her faith by staying true to her beliefs, even in the most horrid of circumstances. Her sister inspired her with comforting words that she in turn repeated to the rest of the world, giving many people hope for their future.

  Corrie ten Boom was courageous, compassionate, and demonstrated faith. She was willing to risk the lives of her family, friends, and herself to help the Jewish people in WWII. She endured pain for her actions, through beatings and being in the concentration camps. She was able to forgive people that had persecuted her. She rose above the circumstances, and found beauty in the most horrid of places. Ten Boom lived out her life performing acts of kindness every day. It was the foundation of her faith. Doing what was right in the face of evil was at the core of what she believed. Taking Jews into her home was just another act of kindness in her eyes. She states that even small things can turn into huge parts of our lives, and change the lives of others:"How often it is a small, almost unconscious event that makes a turning point." (Corrie ten Boom) This inspires me to do the same; to live out my life in the service of others, knowing that a little bit of generosity or a helping hand can make a difference in someone else's life.  Thousands of people are alive today because of Corrie ten Boom's actions. If she had not helped the people she had, hundreds of generations would have been lost. Her story goes to show that a single individual's actions can have dramatic affects in the lives of others.

Works Cited

"Corrie ten Boom." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines. Vol. 2. Gale, 1992. Biography In 

 Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

 Smith, E. "History." History. Corrie Ten Boom House Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. .

Ten, Boom Corrie., John L. Sherrill, and Elizabeth Sherrill. The Hiding Place. Washington Depot, CT: Chosen, 1971. Print.

Page created on 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Corrie ten Boom Museum - Located in her old home in Haarlem, Holland
Corrie ten Boom House Foundation - Foundation that supports the museum
"The Hiding Place" Book - Written By Corrie ten Boom.
"The Hiding Place" Movie - Produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Extra Info

While writing this essay, I read a book written by Corrie ten Boom, called "The Hiding Place." It goes into detail about her experiences through WWII. I would suggest it to anyone who would like to know this hero better, or is interested in stories from WWII. It was also made into a movie, produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.