Who was Mr. Smit? How did he help Corrie ten Boom improve her operations for the Dutch Resistance?
Mr. Smit was a famous European architect. He went by a pseudonym when he worked with the Dutch Resistance to create a secret room at the Beje.
Read more about Mr. Smit and how he helped Corrie ten Boom.
Meeting Mr. Smit
The man sent by the Resistance to examine conditions at the Beje introduced himself to Corrie only as “Mr. Smit.” False identities were standard operating procedure within the Resistance: knowing too much about one’s co-conspirators was dangerous for the entire group. Mr. Smit, Corrie learned after the war, was actually an architect, one of Europe’s most famous.
Some aspects of Corrie’s operation met with Smit’s approval. Corrie had, for example, implemented a warning system to prevent aid workers delivering supplies from entering the Beje if a raid was already underway—a small triangular sign that in the shop window was the “all clear” signal to enter; its absence was the signal to stay away. Smit deemed this acceptable, as well as the hiding space for the ration cards beneath the stairs.
But the lack of a true hiding place for the people at the Beje was a major cause for concern. When Smit went up to Corrie’s room, however, he found that the architecture of the house was ideally suited for constructing a secret hiding place.
Creating the Hiding Place
Mr. Smit installed a false brick wall in Corrie’s room, behind which was to be the secret room where Jews would be able to hide. Corrie was astonished by the thoroughness and quality of Smit’s work. It was perfect, totally undetectable from the outside. There was enough room to stand and walk around in the hiding place, as well as a well-hidden vent that would let air in from the outside. The hiding place was only accessible through a small sliding panel, which was hidden behind bookshelves in front of the false wall.
Mr. Smit proudly declared that the Germans would have great difficulty locating anyone hiding in the space he had built, boasting that the Gestapo could search for a year and never find anything. The Beje was now ready to function as a permanent hiding place.
Corrie Faces the Danger
Corrie knew that her activities were dangerous, and that she faced severe punishment—even death—at the hands of the Nazis if caught.
But still, it was impossible not to think about the enormous risks she and her circle were running by this time. In early 1943, the hiding place to which the Resistance had sent Harry de Vries after his brief sojourn at the Beje was discovered by the Gestapo. In the ensuing raid, Harry was rounded up and taken to the police station in Amsterdam. Corrie did manage to see him one final time before he was transported to Amsterdam and from there, most likely out of the country to a concentration camp.
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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