Casper ten Boom: Master Watchmaker and Man of Faith

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Who was Casper ten Boom? What was his watch business like? How did he impact and shape his children?

Casper ten Boom was the patriarch of the ten Boom family. He and his watch shop were well-revered in the community. He was even known outside of Holland for his watchmaking skills.

Learn more about Casper ten Boom and his influence on Corrie and her siblings.

Who Was Casper ten Boom?

Casper ten Boom was the family patriarch. He was a master watchmaker whose skill was recognized all over Holland and even other countries in Western Europe. His watch shop was on the ground floor of the family’s home, known as the Beje. Casper traveled to Amsterdam frequently to do business with wholesalers and suppliers, many of whom Corrie remembered as being Jewish. 

Theological Debates With Corrie

Reminiscing about these happy times with her father, Corrie also remembered the spirited—but always respectful—theological debates and discussions her father would have with these Jewish friends. Although devout in his faith, Casper’s religiosity was tolerant and respectful of the beliefs of others. He did not seek to convert or berate his Jewish friends: he simply loved discussing faith and God with them.

During one of these journeys with her father, young Corrie asked him about “sexsin,” a word she had heard in a poem at school. Topics like sex were rarely discussed openly by families in early-20th century Europe—and certainly not in the conservative ten Boom household. When she asked this question, Casper asked Corrie to carry a box full of heavy watches across the train platform. She struggled and told her father that she couldn’t do it. He explained to her that just as there were physical burdens that were too heavy for her to bear, so too were there emotional burdens that she could not carry on her own, so that it was best to let God carry them for her.

Casper ten Boom’s Life at the Beje

In the years that followed, Corrie settled into her life as a dedicated spinster aunt. She became a caregiver to a growing brood of nieces and nephews. She also became the bookkeeper for her father’s watch shop, helping to bring some order and regularity to Casper’s notoriously eccentric business practices. In her life at the Beje, she was joined by her older sister Betsie, who also chose not to marry. 

Thus began a tranquil time in Corrie’s life, one defined by domestic affairs and family commitment. Corrie became more involved in the workings of the watch shop, developing an aptitude and appreciation for the craft as well as the business—and, of course, relishing the opportunity to work beside and learn from her father. Betsie, for her part, made the Beje at last truly glow during this period, with flowers and beautiful decor infusing every corner of the old house. Betsie kept alive Mama’s tradition of making the Beje a true home for the entire city, opening its doors to anyone who wished to stop in for a hot cup of coffee, homemade soup, or Christian prayer and fellowship.

For the better part of the next two decades, the widowed Casper and the unmarried Betsie and Corrie settled into a happy, if familiar routine. Life was a procession of new nieces and nephews (as Nollie and Willem started families of their own), family gatherings, Bible readings, and business in the watch shop. It was a tranquil and happy existence—but one that would eventually be shattered in ways the happy trio could scarcely have imagined.

Arrested on February 28, 1944

On the morning of February 28, 1944, Corrie was in bed, sick with the flu and flushed with fever. Suddenly, officers burst into Corrie’s room, interrogating her exactly as Kik and Rolf had said they would. 

After hours of brutality at the hands of the Gestapo, the ten Booms—Corrie, Betsie, and Casper ten Boom, in addition to Willem, Nollie, and Peter—were loaded into a van and hauled off to the local Haarlem police station. On the night of the German invasion in 1940, Corrie had had an awful premonition of her family being carted away through the streets of Haarlem on their way to an unknown and terrifying destination—now, this dark vision was being fulfilled.

Casper ten Boom in Custody

The family was transported by bus that afternoon to the Duch city of The Hague for processing and further questioning. There were other prisoners loaded onto the bus, including the bloodied and bruised Pickwick. They arrived at an administrative building, the Gestapo headquarters for The Netherlands. Due to his advanced age, the authorities offered to release Casper and allow him to return home to the Beje. But Casper ten Boom refused this offer of mercy, telling the Germans that he would never close his door to anyone seeking help—if he went home, he would simply continue hiding fugitives. Even the Nazi terror could not rob Casper of his humanity.

Freedom for Casper ten Boom

In early May, 1944, Corrie received yet another letter from Nollie, this one bearing terrible news: Casper was dead. He had died at Scheveningen a mere ten days after the arrest, with his date of death marked March 9, 1944. Nollie had no idea where he was buried. 

Corrie agonized and mourned the loss of her father and the fact that she had no place to go to honor his memory. But she also remembered what Casper had always told her—that death was in God’s hands, and only He could determine when someone’s time on Earth had ended. She took comfort in knowing that Casper was now with God and Mama. 
He was free from the agony and suffering of the mortal world, and he had lived a life committed to serving God and upholding his abiding faith. Corrie sketched a new date, March 9, 1944, on her prison cell calendar. Its inscription was simple, but powerful: “Father released.”

Casper ten Boom: Master Watchmaker and Man of Faith

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Hiding Place summary:

  • Why devout Christian Corrie ten Boom decided to stand up to the Nazi occupation
  • How ten Boom and the Jewish neighbors she was hiding were caught
  • How ten Boom survived the concentration camp and left with even stronger faith

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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