The Hiding Place
Interpretation of the Main Themes Raised in The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is the story about the life of a woman in Holland during the German Nazi invasion and holocaust. Miss. Ten Boom tells about her childhood, helping people escape through the anti-Nazi underground, her arrest and imprisonment, and her release.
As a child Miss. Ten Boom grew up in their family’s watch shop with her mother, father, sisters, Nollie and Betsie, brother, Willem, and aunts, Tante Jan, Tante Anna, and Tante Bep. Her close-knit family was a very important part of her life. They worked together to keep up the house and the shop. People would always be at their house to visit, needing a place to stay, or just to hear Father read the Bible. Through her brother she met Karel, with whom she fell in love. He was a schooled man, very intelligent and cunning. Though he also had a love for Corrie, he would never court her, let alone marry her. His family arranged his marriage with a woman that had a large dowry. The rejection hurt Corrie at that young age but was soon forgotten and placed behind her.
Her family was always known for helping people less fortunate. In a person’s time of need, her mother always took food and a warm smile to help. Whenever a child was homeless, they could always go to the Beje for shelter. It was not a surprise, then, when Corrie and the rest of her family got involved with the anti-Nazi underground. She had been noticing that everything in her little town was changing. There were police stationed everywhere and a curfew was being set. The Germans were beginning to take control. Corrie had found out from her brother, Willem, that there were Jewish people needing a place to stay. The family decided to open the Beje to take people in, mostly until they found them a new home. Corrie found a man inside the German government to get food ration cards so they the people could eat. She also found most of the people places to stay. There were a few people that the borders would not take in, for many different reasons. Those people had the Beje as a home. There was always a threat of the German officers making a surprise inspection of their home, so the heads of the underground installed a secret room in their house. Corrie had the permanent and temporary residents perform drills so that they could get to the room quickly so that no one would know that they were ever there.
One day, while Corrie was sick in bed, the German officers came to arrest her and her family members out of suspicion that they were working with the underground. Luckily everyone staying at the Beje was able to get into the secret room before the Gestapo was able to reach the top of the house. Though none of the Jews were found, Corrie and her family were still arrested and taken to a holding place. There started the long progression through the horrors of prison and the concentration camps. After spending a few days in the holding place they were taken to Scheveningen, a prison in another part of the country. All of the women were put in holding cells away from the people that they knew and loved. Being that Corrie was sick, she did not stay in the crowded cells very long. Quickly she was moved to an isolated cell where she could recover from her illness. One day she learned that Nollie and Willem had been released but she got the bad news that her father had passed away after ten days in prison. Soon after she got this news, Nollie sent her a package with some supplies and a few little bibles. Corrie was excited to see these things.
As Corrie began to get better she was scheduled to have her hearing to see if she could get out of prison. While in her meeting she met Lieutenant Rahms. He seemed like a very sympathetic man with a soft heart. During this hard time he made her feel comfortable. He wanted to help Corrie and he knew he couldn’t get her out of the prison. After a few talks with her he learned how much her family meant to her. He had her family come to the prison to have the will of their father read. This helped Corrie and Betsie, who was also still in
A few days after that meeting the prisoners were awakened and told to pack their pillowcases. Some were excited hoping that the war was over and they were going home. Others were worried they were going to go to an even more wretched place than where they were. Those excited people were very mistaken. As they marched out of the prison they were led into small box cars. There they looked for people they knew or were related to. Corrie soon found Betsie. They knew that they would be fine now that they were together. They cramped themselves into the train cars with many other women. Everyone carefully found a place where the could sit. The trip was long and soon got foul smelling. Everyone had the same thought in mind… where would they end up?? Everyone hoped, wished, and prayed not Germany, this time they were lucky, they were going Brabant. Overhead they heard explosions and gunshots. Once the train stopped and Betsie and Corrie shared the Bible with everyone. In this boxcar is where their ministry at the concentration camps began.
Sometime early in the morning the train began moving again and they were on their was to their destination. Soon everyone was extracted from the tightly wound mass of sickly bodies. Shouts of guards filled the air contradicting the warfare. Quickly they were marched over a mile to the camp. They went into the wooden barracks that had no beds so many of the prisoners, including Corrie and Betsie, fell asleep on the long wooden tables and backless benches in the barracks. Early one morning Corrie and Betsie were given pink slips. One woman made the comment that they were free. They went through a long procession of saying their names and getting back their belongings just to have their newly returned things taken back. They were taken to a new barracks where they got their work assignments. Betsie, being weak and very sick, was assigned to sewing prison uniforms, But Corrie apparently much stronger was assigned to the Phillips factory. Each in their separate place during the day they were able to share the gospel to many more people. They led morning and night prayer in there barracks and read and translated scripture when they were working.
Many weeks later they were marched over a mile back to the train. Again they were piled into the small box cars. Again they hoped and prayed that they were not going to Germany. This time they were not so lucky. They crossed the border and headed for Ravevsbruck. Soon they arrived there and soon marched for a mile up the hill to the camp. They were sent to an open canvas tent roof which covered a large area of lice infested straw. There they were left to stay and sleep for three days and two nights. As they were laying down to sleep for the third night they were ordered to go to the processing center. There they went through the melancholy procession again, but at the end of this one there was a shower waiting for them. They stood in the dank and dingy shower room naked and cold. Betsie now so sick she could barely stand. By hiding their Bible in their removed clothing they were able to get it passed the guards, which allowed them to continue their ministry even in these harsh surroundings. They were sent to barracks 8 where there was already an overcrowding. In places nine people shares a space large enough for four. There was constant groveling and complaining. All Betsie and Corrie could do for these people was pray. So that’s what they did. Whenever there was a chance they spoke of how wonderful Jesus was and told Bible stories. Many people were ministered to in barracks 8 on those late nights. Corrie and Betsie got new work details. They were both assigned to the tough labor. But soon Betsie became sick again and was assigned to knitting socks. Soon after that Corrie was inspected for transport. Since she could not see the eye chart she was not able to leave at the time. So, she was then assigned to knitting socks.
One day Betsie told Corrie of a vision that God had given her. She told her of the beautiful house with inlaid wooden floors and the beautiful gardens. Also of the statues set into the walls and the broad staircase. Corrie could not believe her. She did not know how to think about such a beautiful site after being in such a rotten place for so long.
During one early morning roll call Betsie’s sickness worsened though she was not allowed to be taken to the hospital. On the way back to the barracks Betsie told Corrie that they were supposed to run a concentration camp in Germany, where they would be in charge to help people get over the abuse. They were to paint all of the new barracks bright green , like spring, and put window boxes in every window for flowers. The next morning as Corrie and another lady were helping Betsie out for roll call they were told, by the guard they called snake, to take her back. Soon after a stretcher came to take her to the hospital.
Many times Corrie went to Betsie’s window to visit her. She could tell that Betsie was getting worse but didn’t know weather or not she was going to make it. On a routine visit she noticed that her sister was surrounded by people. She wondered, but then knew that Betsie had passed away. A kind nurse saw Corrie and took her down to see her sister. Corrie knew that her sister was with God so that made her content.
A few days later Corrie was finally released. She was taken to the train station and left there with a few other released prisoners. She boarded the train that led back home but did not make it very far. Many of the train stations had been destroyed, and someone had stolen all of her money. Through the help of some friendly people she made her way back home to be with her family.
Days later a woman came to Corrie offering her house to be used. It was a beautiful house with tall windows and inlaid floors, statues set into the wall and a broad staircase. Just as Betsie had visioned. Corrie spoke at many churches and told many people about what she had been through. A man had soon found a place to continue her missionary work. An old concentration camp in Germany. Corrie was overwhelmed. She told the man that there were to be window boxes at every window and that they would need a lot of green paint. Just as Betsie had visioned.
This book shows how this God fearing woman was put through the ultimate trial. God used this woman to touch the lives of many people. Not only directly but indirectly. Through all the hard times that she had, she was able to look to God for the hope and strength to keep going. Through God she was able to speak salvation to downtrodden, heartbroken people. She showed compassion for everyone she met, and loved people with God’s love… not only her own.
This book touched my heart. I’ve learned that no matter what I’m going through God will be there with me. I also learned to thank God for everything around me because it’s all there for a reason.
Comparative Study on Holocaust Portrayal and Society’s Response in The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Night by Ellie Wiesel
Your Situation Is What You Make Of It
“Happiness isn’t’ something that depends on our surroundings, Corrie. It’s something we make inside ourselves.” This quote from The Hiding Place shows that we are in control of how we feel in any situation. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and Night by Elie Wiesel are both stories that acknowledge the difficulty of the Holocaust, but shows the different responses people have to hardship.
The themes of the novel are very similar in the way that their situation is very similar. In both of the novels, the main characters are thrust into a horrible world. They both must face the inhumane conditions of the Nazi concentration camps. They also must face the struggle with selfishness and starvation.
While many of the themes are similar, there are also distinct differences. In the book Night, Elie believes that God is dead because he doesn’t believe that God would let these horrible things happen to his chosen people. Corrie, instead chooses to turn to God and make him her “hiding place.” Even though bad things are still happening to her, she decides to still love God and trust in him.
Another one of the themes in the stories are miracles. Corrie never experienced an incredible miracle such as raising the dead in her sry, but she was able to see the miracles in the small things and she was able to give thanks for them. Some of the miracles she saw and gave thanks for were the miracle of being able to smuggle the bible, the miracle of the vitamin bottle, and even the miracle of the fleas. It was still a terrible place to be, but she still saw all of the good and that allowed her to still have faith in God to get her through it. Elie only acknowledged one of his little miracles, where he was thankful for the mud that made his shoes look older than they were. Corrie was able to make her own happiness. Elie succumbed to hopelessness.
The imagery and details in these books are very similar. They are both describing the details and effects of the concentration camps. Corrie uses a little more figurative language to describe her situation. She takes her time when explaining her story. Elie’s descriptions are shorter and harsher. They are that way because that is what the world looks like to him. He sees the world in a different way being 15 years old whereas Corrie is in her mid 50’s.
The tone of Corrie’s book is full of hope. There are only a very few times where she gives up hope. She still keeps trying and trusting in God. At the beginning of Night, however, it is full of false hope and people who tell themselves lies, to maintain security. People in that situation were all too ready to deny God or to tell themselves false truths. They were willing to tell themselves anything to maintain the facade of safety.
One of the main differences in the tone is their age difference. Corrie’s tone is probably more hopeful since she has lived a longer life and is wiser. With Elie’s young age, he just doesn’t know better, so when he is confronted with hardship, his only reaction is anger. He hasn’t experienced enough of life to know how to effectively cope with hard things.
In conclusion, even though the characters in Night and The Hiding Place are going through the same situations, their tones are very different. Corrie focuses on hope and God, and Elie turns away from God. People can choose to be hopeful or they can choose to turn away from hope.