One of my personal heroes is Corrie ten Boom
. She was a woman of honor and respect, but so real at the same time. She was honest that she had fears and struggled, at times, with the way her life unfolded
She grew up Haarlam, Holland, living with her folks, two sisters, a brother and a network of extended family. She shared her father's love of watchmaking and joined his shop during the 1920s, becoming the first female watchmaker licensed in Holland. The ten Boom shop and home welcomed all sorts of people, and was often the hub of social networking in the part of Haarlam they lived in.
When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, many Dutch resisted the occupying forces in a variety of ways. The Dutch Underground became a strong resistance organization, one that the ten Boom family joined to help hide Jewish compatriots and fellow resistance fighters. I can't do justice to sharing Corrie's story-- the story of her family reaching out to friends, neighbors and total strangers. The book The Hiding Place
does such an excellent job of showing both the real woman who was Corrie and describing, in detail, the sacrifices her family made to rescue people. It's estimated that her family helped rescue 800 Jewish people.
Her family was eventually compromised by an informant. Corrie's 84 year old father, Casper, her older sister and brother, along with one of her nephews , died in prison or concentration camps, due to their work with the Dutch resistance movement
. Corrie was released from Ravensbruck
, due to a clerical error, in December 1944. Her release was a week before the extermination of all the women her age held in the camp.
When she was a little girl, Corrie told her father about her fear of dying, after a neighbor's baby died. Her father happened to take her on a special train trip on a regular basis, and when she shared her fear, he asked her about her train ticket. When her father asked about the time period he'd always present her with the train ticket, Corrie replied that he gave it to her after they boarded the train, right before the conductor came by to collect it. This way she wouldn't lose it before she needed it. He went on to explain that courage was the same-- God would give her the courage she must have at the exact time she needed it. This advice from Casper sustained her through out her life, especially when she was so frightened during the war.
The ten Boom family were humble, kind folks. They weren't glory seekers or radical wildfires. They took a look at the abhorrent turn of events in their country and joined their voices with thousand others who said "No, you're not going to do this to our friends and neighbors." They had to shake off some mighty fear to complete the actions and activities they knew they were compelled to undertake, because the alternative, to cooperate with the occupying forces, would have been too horrible of a sacrifice for their family to bear.