Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The Hiding Place is an autobiography of Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983 (and yes, she died on her 91st birthday)) written with John and Elizabeth Sherill and first published on November 1971. The book chronicles the life of Corrie ten Boom, a resident in Holland, a spinster, and a strong Christian. It narrates how she hid Jews when Netherlands fell to Nazis' hands and how Corrie, due to her strong Christian faith, succeeded to survive in the woman's concentration camp Ravensbruck , where she was exposed to inhumane treatments and horrible conditions. The title of the book referes to both the place where Corrie and her family hid the Jews in their house and also to the Scriptural message from the Book of Isaiah which states in part, "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word... Hold thou me up" The book makes us reflect on World War II, the Holocaust, and the Nazis' horrors.

I loved The Hiding Place for many reasons. But first things first. A bit slow moving at first, it details the life of Corrie as a grown woman and then backtracks to her childhood and the events that lead up her adulthood. As I was reading, I was wondering what all this history had to do with her hiding Jews later in life, ultimately resulting in her imprisonment in a Nazi work camp. But now that I am finished reading it, I think that information was important in establishing what type of person Corrie was. She constantly made sacrifices for the people she loved. Reading this story at the start of the new year--reading about her joys and sorrows, trials and triumphs, and knowing that she rarely complained but instead made the best out of every situation, even as she was starving and watching her loved ones die-- it put things into perspective as I was making my New Year's resolutions. This book made me so very grateful for the luxuries I enjoy and often take for granted. It made me grateful to live in a free country--one in which I am free to worship as I please, that I am not opressed because of what I look like or who my ancestors are. It made me grateful for the love and support of my family. This was a very sad book, but it made me want to be better. It was a great way to start my year.

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