Nollie Ten Boom: Corrie’s Charismatic Older Sister

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Who was Nollie ten Boom? Was Corrie’s older sister also involved in rescuing Jews from persecution in Holland?

Nollie ten Boom was the charismatic older sister of Corrie ten Boom. She was the only ten Boom daughter to get married.

Read about Nollie ten Boom’s life and involvement in the Dutch Resistance, including her son’s defiance of the Nazi regime.

Who Was Nollie ten Boom?

Her older sister, Nollie ten Boom, on the other hand, was attractive and vivacious, always able to hold her own at parties and gatherings and draw everyone’s attention—whether she was talking about Einstein’s theory of relativity or Admiral Peary’s journey to the North Pole.

Corrie was sometimes sad and disheartened by her awkwardness and difficulties expressing herself. Mama, however, reassured her by sharing what she saw as the key to happiness. Happiness was not simply a product of one’s surroundings—it was something that you created for yourself. 

Nollie’s Wedding

In 1918, Cornelia ten Boom, Corrie’s mother, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that put her into a coma. She lay unconscious for two months before she finally came out of it. She managed to survive, but she was a shadow of her former self. 

Despite her condition, Cornelia survived to see the wedding of her daughter Nollie ten Boom in 1921. At the wedding, something miraculous happened. Cornelia, who had not spoken coherently in years, suddenly rose to sing the hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus,” with the entire assembled family and congregation joining her in rapturous wonder. For Corrie, it was a miracle, albeit a temporary one, a blessing from God on that happy day. Mama passed away a mere four weeks after Nollie’s wedding, but no one, least of all Corrie, ever forgot her moment of grace.

Children and Family Life

In the years that followed, Corrie settled into her life as a dedicated spinster aunt. As her siblings got married and started families of their own, she became a caregiver to a growing brood of nieces and nephews, whom she loved as though they were her own children. Although she loved them all, she was especially fond of Peter, one of Nollie’s sons. Peter was a musical prodigy who delighted the family, and the community at large, with his magnificent and beautiful piano playing. 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. 

Resistance and Defiance by Nollie ten Boom and Peter

By May 1942, the Holocaust was in full swing, with Jews being deported en masse from German-occupied countries to labor and extermination camps in Eastern Europe. Although the full extent of what was happening to the deported Jews was not yet known by the ten Boom family, they knew that their Jewish neighbors were in grave danger. Nollie, like Willem, had begun the work of hiding Jews, using her connections with the Dutch Resistance to secure documents that would conceal their Jewish identities. She was soon harboring two Jewish women full-time in her home.

The family was resisting the Nazi oppression in other ways as well. One day in church, Corrie’s beloved nephew Peter performed the “Wilhelmus,” the Dutch national anthem, which had been expressly banned by the occupation authorities. As the familiar chords began to ring out in the cathedral, the entire congregation sang along, joining Peter in this small, but powerful act of defiance and national pride in the face of tyranny. 

Corrie was displeased by Peter’s showy act of defiance. Nollie ten Boom was hiding two Jewish women in her home, to say nothing of Willem’s activities. The Gestapo would surely hear about Peter’s performance, which would bring dangerous scrutiny to the ten Boom family. Sure enough, within days of playing the forbidden anthem, Peter was arrested by the Gestapo.

Nollie Ten Boom: Corrie’s Charismatic Older Sister

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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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