The Hiding Place Timeline: Building a Rescue Operation

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What is the hiding place timeline? How did Corrie ten Boom get her operation going?

This hiding place timeline explores the key steps in building a place to hide Jews and rescue them from persecution. Read about what happened and how it fell apart in the hiding place timeline below.

The Hiding Place Timeline: Expanding the Operation

Corrie’s rescue and hiding operation was growing rapidly by spring 1943. What had started out as a small network of friends and family had expanded by this time to include 80 co-conspirators. Many of these contacts were people in positions of authority in Haarlem, including the police officer Rolf, who began directly assisting the operation by funneling fugitives to hide at the Beje (often under the pretense of needing a watch repaired) and ensuring a minimal police presence in the area.

Corrie worried that the circle was growing too large and unwieldy. The more people who were involved, the greater the likelihood that one of them would betray the group to the occupation authorities. The widening circle of conspirators—and, now, possible informants—necessitated the use of extra security procedures. The operation was now carried out through clandestine meetings and illicit telephone conversations using pseudonyms and code words to deceive the authorities, whom Corrie understood to be listening in on such conversations. With this phase of the hiding place timeline, Corrie had an expanded operation.

Getting Used to a New Family

As time went on, the six Jews and the ten Booms became a true family unit. They ate, laughed, sang, and prayed together, retaining their humanity in the face of nearly unimaginable fear. The cohesion of the group and their overwhelming regard for one another showed when Mary was first brought to the house. It was obvious that sheltering her posed a serious risk to everyone. The issue of whether or not to admit her at the Beje was put to a vote—and, on a unanimous, 9-0 vote, they chose to let her stay. 

On one occasion, when the group feared that people in a neighboring house had spotted them, Corrie made the snap decision to start loudly singing, to create the appearance that everyone in the house was merely gathered there for a birthday party. Even the normal appearance of the window washer at the Beje triggered Corrie’s worst fears about the people in her care being captured by the Germans—to say nothing of herself.

A Return Visitor

With the return of a former Hitler Youth, the hiding place timeline signals an ominous ending. This part of the timeline is a turning point. One night, a familiar face returned to the Beje—Otto Altschuler, the cruel and odious young German who had worked as an apprentice at the watch shop before the war. Back then, he had loudly propagated his anti-Semitic and fascist views. Now he was in a position to put these principles into action.

As a German soldier stationed in Haarlem, Otto paid an unexpected visit to the Beje. In characteristic fashion, he mocked and threatened the ten Booms, darkly musing at how the tables had turned: he had once been their subordinate, but he was now in charge and would make sure they obeyed his orders. Otto suddenly demanded to inspect the area upstairs—where the six Jewish fugitives were hiding.

Otto’s visit was an opportunity for Corrie’s group to test the effectiveness of their drills. When he first came to the door in his uniform, Corrie set off the buzzer to alert the six to the imminent danger. Otto heard the buzzer go off, but Corrie was able to wave his suspicions away by…. Corrie stalled him as long as possible before the young captain forced his way upstairs. To her great relief, the constant drilling had paid off. There was no trace of the group when Otto made his way upstairs. Finding only Casper and Betsie, Otto angrily stormed out of the house. The group was safe—for now.

The Hiding Place Timeline Ends With Arrests

This phase of the hiding place timeline brings the ten Boom’s operation at the Beje to an end. As they prepared for but hoped not to have to endure, they were arrested by the Gestapo.

On the morning of February 28, 1944, officers burst into Corrie’s room, interrogating her exactly as Kik and Rolf had said they would. The practice had paid dividends. When they asked where the Jews were hiding, Corrie feigned ignorance and claimed she had no idea what they were talking about. As the officers brought her downstairs, Corrie witnessed a scene of absolute chaos unfolding at the Beje. Gestapo officers were ransacking the house and the watch shop, tearing them apart as they looked for Jews.

Corrie was terrified for the six Jews hiding behind the false wall in her room—although they had successfully made it to the hiding place, surely it was just a matter of time before they were discovered. 

She was also horrified to discover that the Gestapo had extensive knowledge about the workings of her operation and even knew about her warning signal. The officers falsely placed the “all clear” triangle in the sign to lure more conspirators into the Beje for interrogation, torture, and arrest. 

In the course of their ransacking, the officers tore the walls of the Beje apart with sledgehammers in their search for the hiding Jews while Corrie and Betsie sat and listened, bloodied and helpless. Although the six fugitives were not discovered during the course of the raid, the arresting officer vowed to Corrie that he would post a permanent guard at the Beje to wait until the six emerged from wherever they were hiding. 

In June 1944, after being arrested and interrogated, Corrie was brought to a small room at the prison, where she found her family waiting for her. Willem, Flip, and even Betsie were there! She learned some important details about the six Jews’ escape from the Beje. After a few days, the soldiers on duty at the Beje had been replaced with ordinary Haarlem police. Rolf then arranged to have the fugitives freed from the hiding place and transferred to other safehouses.

The Hiding Place Timeline: Building a Rescue Operation

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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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