In The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom describes a few of the last things her sister Betsie tells her before she dies in the hospital at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. One is that there will be a place with tall windows, for people to come and heal from the spiritual and psychological wounds of the war. And it’s clear that Betsie is not only talking about the people who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, but the Nazis themselves.
Another is that they will be free by the New Year – January of 1945. In a place like Ravensbruck, that likely would have seemed laughable to Corrie. The only way out from Ravensbruck seemed to be sent further east – to the death camps in Poland, although the prisoners had little firsthand knowledge of those.
Sometime after Betsie’s death, Corrie hears her voice shouted by a guard at the door of the barracks. She hurries after her as fast as she can, hobbling with swollen feet. She sites on a bench by a camp official with a few other women. One by one they’re called to the official, who looks at papers and says the word they likely thought they’d never hear.
Corrie understood the German word for “released.” They were inexplicably being released. In Corrie’s case, the official looks at her feet and sends her first to the hospital; sick prisoners cannot be released. After a few days, he feet less swollen, she’s given a skirt and blouse and the articles taken from her when she arrived, including her mother’s ring (amazing, given the penchant the Nazis had for looting and stealing art and jewelry).
One thing she leaves behind – the small copy of the Scriptures in Dutch she and Betsie had used to read to the women and for worship services. She gives the treasured Bible to a young woman from Holland.
The train takes her first to Berlin, which has been heavily bombed. She finally gets a train for the Dutch border, but the journey takes days – so many delays because of torn up tracks and the movements of troop and supply trains. The last part of her journey to Haarlem is by truck – the train track is destroyed.
She finds family; and she returns to her home above the watch shop. She is a very different Corrie than the one who was arrested some 10 months before. She has seen death and destruction. She has seen people killed. She has seen brutality and what humans are indeed capable of. She has experienced the death of her beloved sister and father. Yes, it is a very different Corrie who returns to Haarlem, one who faith has been refined by fire.
Led by Sarah Salter and Jason Stasyszen, we’ve been discussing The Hiding Place. To see more posts on this chapter, “The Three Visions,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines. This is the last chapter in the book; there is an epilogue. I’ll have a few final thoughts next week.
Photograph by Lilla Frerichs via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.