Jan Vogels: The Man Who Betrayed the Ten Booms

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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How were the ten Booms caught? Who was Jan Vogels, the man that reported them to the Gestapo?

When Corrie ten Boom found out about Jan Vogels, she was enraged. But her faith brought her to forgive him and pray for him. Read about how she found out and processed the betrayal.

Prison to Concentration Camp

One day early in the summer of 1944, Corrie was abruptly ordered by the guards at Scheveningen to pack out and form a line with the other women to evacuate the prison immediately. As she saw the prison being emptied, it became clear what was happening—the Allied armies had landed in Europe and were beginning the process of liberating the occupied countries!

In response, the Germans were moving their political prisoners out of the path of the rapidly advancing Allied forces and deeper into the interior of Europe. The train disembarked, but not at a rail station or even a camp. The guards forced them off the train in the middle of the woods. Once the suffering and half-starved prisoners had all cleared off the train, they were ordered to march on foot, at gunpoint. Betsie was ill and was having difficulty breathing, so Corrie helped her make the journey through the dark woods. At last, Corrie saw where she and the other women were being taken: the Vught concentration camp for political prisoners. 

Faith Tested Learning About Jan Vogels

These oppressive conditions put Corrie’s religious beliefs to the test. One day, Betsie told her that a new woman had been transferred on to the sewing detail. Betsie shared that this woman had been betrayed to the Gestapo by a man named Jan Vogels—the man whom, according to Betsie, had also betrayed the ten Booms to the Gestapo. Corrie’s mind began to wander to places it never had before. She even believed that she was capable of killing Jan Vogels if she ever saw him. Knowing that this murderous hatred existed within her caused Corrie to experience great physical and spiritual anguish.

But, in the end, she hung on to her humanity—thanks to Betsie’s inexhaustible well of Christian mercy and forgiveness. Betsie told Corrie that Jan Vogels must have been wracked with guilt over what he had done, that he was as tormented as they were. Through Betsie’s example, Corrie saw the error and sin of her vengeful thoughts. She saw that she faced the same judgment before God as Jan Vogels did. He had caused the deaths of others through his deeds; but Corrie had murdered this man with her tongue and in her thoughts. That night, she prayed to God to forgive Jan Vogels and herself as well. In forgiving him, she found herself at peace as well.

Atrocities Continue

Even after finding a way to forgive Jan Vogels, Corrie continued to have her faith tested. Fortunately, Corrie and Betsie found community with the women in their barracks. One of them was the pregnant Mrs. Floor, a Communist whose husband was imprisoned in Vught’s men’s camp, as were those of many of the other women. Corrie feared for Mrs. Floor’s health, and that of her baby, noting how dangerously thin she was for an expectant mother.

Mrs. Floor told Corrie that ration-card offenders (which was what the authorities believed Corrie and Betsie to be) usually received a six-month sentence. If this was true, this would mean a September 1 release date. Corrie clung to this date in her mind, although Betsie warned her one evening in August not to get her hopes up.

But the sheer brutality of the camp was impossible to ignore. As the long summer of 1944 wore on, the women heard snippets of news (or possibly rumors) that the Allied forces were rapidly pushing east across Europe, liberating occupied towns and cities and driving the German armies further and further back. The guards seemed to be acutely aware of this state of affairs, becoming more brutal toward the prisoners with news of every German setback. Notably, the rifle fire from the men’s camp became more and more frequent.

At last, September 1 arrived—but it did not bring the freedom for which Corrie had hoped. On that day, Mrs. Floor went into labor. With no access to basic gynecological or post-natal care, she was forced to deliver her child, a girl, on the floor of the filthy and infested barracks. The girl lived a mere four hours. 

Jan Vogels: The Man Who Betrayed the Ten Booms

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Corrie ten Boom's "The Hiding Place" at Shortform.

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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