Who was Corrie ten Boom’s brother, Willem ten Boom? How did the pastor at the Dutch Reformed Church help Jews in Holland?
Willem ten Boom was Corrie ten Boom’s older brother. In The Hiding Place, Corrie shares how her brother used the nursing home he operated as a temporary refuge.
Read more about Willem ten Boom and his involvement with the Dutch Resistance.
Inspiration From Willem ten Boom
The streets Corrie had known all her life were running red with blood. She wanted to help, wanted to assist her friends and neighbors in distress, wanted to live up to her most deeply held Christian principles. But how could one individual stand up to the powerful forces of concentrated evil?
In this, she looked to Willem ten Boom. As a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church, Willem operated a nursing home in the nearby town of Hilversum. Just as he had worked to help persecuted Jews escape Nazi Germany, now he was using the nursing home to hide Dutch Jews who faced the threat of arrest and deportation. He was using the nursing home as a temporary hiding place, where fugitive Jews could wait until they found a more permanent safe house out in the countryside, where there were fewer occupying troops.
Taking a First Step
Corrie’s first act to rescue Jews in Haarlem was helping her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Weil. In November 1941, the Germans surrounded and vandalized the Weils’ furrier shop, located next to Casper’s watch shop. The ten Boom family watched as the Germans looted and destroyed the shop, thankfully while its occupants were absent. Corrie and the family made the pivotal decision to intervene, spiriting Mr. Weil into the Beje and sheltering him until the authorities left. But Mr. Weil still feared for his wife: she had been visiting her sister in Amsterdam at the time of the raid. She needed to be warned not to return home.
The family reached out to Willem ten Boom, who had extensive contacts in the Dutch Resistance and knew of addresses where persecuted Jews would be able to hide. If anyone would be able to get a warning to Mrs. Weil and help get the couple to safety, it would be Willem ten Boom. Corrie made the long journey to Hilversum, where she asked Willem’s son, Kik, to help. At 9 o’clock that evening (after the German-imposed curfew), Kik came to the Beje to escort Mr. Weil to safety. When Betsie asked how this would work, Kik told her not to ask too many questions—the underground survived by secrecy.
Building an Operation Independent From Willem ten Boom
Willem ten Boom told Corrie that she needed to develop her own contacts to secure papers and supplies for the people living at the Beje and that she needed to operate at least semi-independently. Otherwise, he explained, her potential capture could compromise all other rescue operations in Haarlem. While the different elements of the Resistance collaborated, they also needed to maintain a healthy separation from one another, for safety. That way, the other cells could continue to function even if one was detected by the authorities. Willem ten Boomknew that he was likely to be already on the authorities’ radar; it was too risky for everyone to have Corrie be so openly collaborating with him.
The most critical challenge Corrie faced was ration cards—she needed to find a way to secure them for the Jews under her care. The safehouses in the countryside to which they would be sent demanded that incoming Jews have valid ones. Unlike other documents, ration cards couldn’t be easily forged or counterfeited, as they were changed too frequently and would be too easy for the authorities to spot. She needed to obtain real cards—it was Willem who suggested that she steal them. This was another dilemma, one that put Corrie’s Christian values to the test. She knew she would have to defy the law to obtain the ration cards. But she also knew that she was answering to a much higher law.
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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