The Ten Boom Family
About the Ten Booms:
Meet the Family
In 1837, Willem ten Boom opened a clock shop. Dedicated Christians, the family home above the shop was always an “open house” for anyone in need.
After an inspiring Dutch Reformed worship service in 1844, Willem started a weekly prayer service to pray for the Jewish people and the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). His son Casper continued the tradition of prayer with his own family. These prayer meetings continued for 100 years-until February 28, 1944, when Nazi soldiers arrested Casper and his entire family for harboring Jews.
During World War II, the ten Booms lived out their Christian faith by making their home a refuge–a hiding place–for Jews and members of the Dutch underground who were being hunted by the Nazis.
The War Years
During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually as many as seven people illegally living in the ten Boom home–Jews and members of the Dutch underground. Additional refugees would stay with the ten Booms for a few hours or a few days until another “safe house” could be located for them. Corrie became a ringleader within the network of the Haarlem underground. Corrie and “the Beje group” would search for courageous Dutch families who would take in refugees, and much of Corrie’s time was spent caring for these people once they were in hiding. Through these activities, the ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.
On February 28, 1944, Casper’s family was betrayed, and the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) raided their home. The Gestapo set a trap and waited throughout the day, seizing everyone who came to the house. By evening, over 20 people had been taken into custody! Casper, Corrie, and Betsie were all arrested. Corrie’s brother Willem, sister Nollie, and nephew Peter were at the house that day, and were also taken to prison.
Although the Gestapo systematically searched the house, they could not find the two Jewish men, two Jewish women, and two members of the Dutch underground who were safely hidden behind a false wall in Corrie’s bedroom. Although the house remained under guard, the Resistance was able to liberate the refugees two days later. The six people had managed to stay quiet in their small, dark hiding place, even though they had no water and very little food. The four Jews were taken to new “safe houses,” and three survived the war. One of the underground workers was killed during the war years, but the other survived. Because Nazi soldiers found underground materials and extra ration cards in their home, the ten Boom family was imprisoned. Casper (84 years old) died after only 10 days in Scheveningen Prison. When Casper was asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, “It would be an honor to give my life for God’s ancient people.” Corrie and Betsie spent 10 months in three different prisons, the last being the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp located near Berlin, Germany. Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and Betsie spent their time sharing Jesus’ love with their fellow prisoners. Many women became Christians in that terrible place because of Corrie and Betsie’s witness to them. Betsie (59) died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie survived. Corrie’s nephew, Christiaan (24), had been sent to Bergen Belsen for his work in the underground. He did not return. Corrie’s brother, Willem (60), was also a ring leader in the Dutch underground. While in prison for this “crime,” he contracted spinal tuberculosis and died shortly after the war.
Four ten Booms gave their lives for this family’s commitment, but 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.” At age 53, Corrie began a worldwide ministry that took her into more than 60 countries in the next 32 years! She testified to God’s love and encouraged all she met with the message that “Jesus is Victor.”
Corrie received many tributes because of her efforts.
Following the war, Corrie was honored by the Queen of Holland as a War Hero. In 1968, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of the many Jewish lives her family saved. Corrie’s tree stands there today. In the early 1970’s, Corrie’s book The Hiding Place became a best seller, and World Wide Pictures (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) released the major motion picture “The Hiding Place.” Corrie went on to write many other inspiring books. There are five evangelical videos about Corrie.
Corrie was a woman faithful to God. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. It is interesting that Corrie’s passing occurred on her birthday. In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!
The Prayer Meeting Continues
In the tradition of the ten Boom family, The Corrie ten Boom Fellowship continues to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and encourages Christians to exercise their faith by helping the Jewish people.
The Corrie ten Boom Fellowship is a non-profit 501c(3) organization governed by a board of directors. Its purpose is to encourage Americans to pray for and encourage Jews around the world, but more specifically in Israel. Like the ten Boom family, it’s main goal is to encourage others to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It gains no direction or funding from the State of Israel.
Michael D. Evans is the Executive director of The Corrie ten Boom Fellowship, as well as the Corrie ten Boom Foundation in Holland. He also founded The Jerusalem Prayer Team, a direct outreach of the Corrie ten Boom Fellowship.