Choosing to act: Stories of rescue – Corrie ten Boom and her hiding place
Today, April 19, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. EST, they will be commemorating the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust and above all the survivors of this terror that the Nazi’s brought about during World War II. Even as this writer is writing this article, the commemorative music has begun to play in the National Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. in a live broadcast. But there was many heroes and heroines that stood out from among the rest and acted as the Jew’s protectors. They chose to stand out from the crowd and risked their lives to save other people. There were a total of 23,000 people who chose to act and rescued other people.
Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, at the ceremony today, honored Henry Morgenthau, a former Secretary of the Treasury who helped form the War Refugee Board during World War II. Although he had stated, “It was too little, and too late,” in describing the belated efforts to help the beleaguered Jews who had been murdered during the Holocaust. He helped initiate the ‘Morgenthau Plan’ which would “prevent Germany from ever again being a military power after the Allied victory in 1945.” Morgenthau served as the Secretary of the Treasury from 1934-1945.
Jewish cantor Schwartz sang in Hebrew the “Song for the Dead,” and then also sang the “Patriot’s Song.” A Jewish Rabbi then closed with a Benediction in Hebrew. The Talmud was mentioned that it has within, a passage that states, “If you do nothing to alleviate the world’s transgressions, then you are also guilty of the world’s transgressions.”
But most stories of rescue are less familiar. These rescuers were ordinary people who acted in extraordinary ways: a government official who forged identity papers, a Benedictine monk who helped establish an extensive network of hiding places for children, a housewife and her daughter who hid a family in their attic. The risks associated with their actions were real, and the consequences could be severe. In many places, sheltering Jews was a crime punishable by death. Such was the case for Anton Schmid, a German army sergeant stationed in Vilna, Lithuania, whom the Nazis executed after discovering he was providing supplies, transportation, and forged papers to Jews in nearby Ponary. A Polish social worker, Irena Sendler, also faced execution for smuggling 2,500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto. She managed to escape from her Nazi captors and, after assuming a new identity, continued to help Jews, according to the Holocaust Museum.
One such person was Corrie ten Boom and her family. They chose to make a hiding place in their home behind a false wall to hide people whose only crimes were their religion and their ethnicity. A true hate crime. Corrie ten Boom who lived with her other family members at Barteljorisstraat 19, Haarlem, Holland. They were Christians who believed in helping other people in trouble. Such was the case when the Nazi’s began to persecute the Jews that also lived in Holland at the time. The ten Boom family made a dangerous decision to get involved by helping to hide Jews from being rounded up and transported to the concentration camps. Corrie and her family constructed a ‘hiding place’ behind one of the walls in Corrie’s bedroom.
During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually 6-7 people illegally living in this home: 4 Jews and 2 or 3 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.
During this time many such resistance works of many faiths helped the Jews who at the time could not help themselves against the juggernaut of the Nazi pogrom instituted against them. In the case of the ten Boom family, after the war, a motion picture was made called, “The Hiding Place” in which their struggles were depicted and their acts of heroism were seen by millions of people, not just in the USA, but around the world.
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 world-wide ministry which took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years! She testified to God’s love and encouraged all she met with the message that “Jesus is Victor.”
Corrie ten Boom lived her faith out loud, she went on to travel throughout the world and finally died upon her birthday, April 15th, 1983. “In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!”
So today, they celebrated the heroism of those that did heroic acts of rescue and those also that perished. Six candles were lit representing the six million Jews that perished during the Holocaust. The Holocuast Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, celebrate these days so that a continual remembrance may be made for the end result that another Holocaust will never be perpetrated against mankind again.