At 12:30 PM on February 28, 1944, the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo raided the home of Dutch watchmaker Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom.
The ten Boom family lived in in rooms above the family’s watch shop. The family’s Christian faith inspired them to serve society, offering shelter, food and money to those in need.
During WWII the ten Boom house became a refuge for Jews, students and intellectuals. The façade of the watch shop made the house an ideal front for these activities. A secret room, no larger than a small wardrobe closet, was built into Corrie’s bedroom behind a false wall. The space could hold up to six people, all of whom had to stand quiet and still.
The entire ten Boom family became active in the Dutch resistance, risking their lives harboring those hunted by the Gestapo. Some fugitives would stay only a few hours, while others would stay several days until another “safe house” could be located. Through these activities, it was estimated that 800 Jews’ lives were saved.
On February 28, 1944, the Gestapo, acting on information from a Dutch informant, set a trap and waited throughout the day, seizing everyone who came out of the watch shop. By evening about 30 people had been taken into custody. All members of the ten Boom family were also arrested and ultimately sent to death camps.
The Gestapo systematically searched the house, but failed to find the six people hiding in the secret room. The Resistance was able to liberate the refugees 47 hours later.
On December 12, 1967, Yad Vashem recognized Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom with the title; Righteous Among the Nations.
In 1971 Corrie told her family’s story in her best-selling book, The Hiding Place, which was made into a movie in 1975. In 1977, then 85-year-old Corrie emigrated to Placentia, California.
Corrie ten Boom died on her 91st birthday, 15 April 1983.