As Corrie ten Boom describes in The Hiding Place, after their arrest in Haarlem in February 1944, members of the ten Boom family are trucked to Gestapo headquarters in The Hague. From there, they’re taken to nearby Scheveningen, the site of what had been the Dutch federal penitentiary but is not a prison used by the Nazis. The women are divided from the men, and she sees her elderly father sitting in a chair, brought by a guard out of respect for his age.
It is the last time Corrie will see her father.
She’s separated from her sister Betsie, other family members and anyone else from Haarlem. Corrie is still sick, trying to recover from the flu.
There in Scheveningen, she discovers the misery of prison life, not the least of which is the tedium. She also discovers occasional kindness, such as when she’s transported to a doctor and a nurse slips her some soap and four gospel tracts.
She will learn through the prison grapevine that, of all the ten Boom family members arrested, only she, Betsie and their father remain in prison; the others have been released. She will also learn that the “watches in her closet” – that is, the Jews who were hiding in the concealed room at the ten Boom clock shop – were all able to escape. They were not found by the Gestapo. She will receive a message from Betsie: “God is good.” And she will find out that her father died 10 days after the arrest.
She reads her gospel tracts. And Corrie discovers something.
The gospels are stories of – initially – a defeat. Jesus is arrested, interrogated, beaten, forced to carry his cross to Golgotha, and then crucified. For his disciples, the spiritual and emotional darkness that followed Jesus’ death lasted for three days. Most if not all of them were in hiding. It appeared as if Jesus’ ministry had been destroyed, and they were all marked men, without a leader, a teacher, or anyone to guide them.
What Corrie discovered from the gospel accounts was surprisingly simple, and something she might not have realized before she was in prison.
Defeat wasn’t the end.
Defeat was the beginning.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading the hiding Place. To see more posts on this chapter, “Scheveningen,” please visit Sarah at LivingBetween the Lines.
Photograph of a prison cell bathroom by Ken Kistler via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission. The cell occupied by Corrie ten Boom at Scheveningen wasn’t as well lit or as well furnished as this one.