As I continue to plan for my daughter’s future schooling, I am finding non-fiction books which I intend to use in her middle and high school years, instead of depending on information already compiled from textbook companies. Many errors have been found in classrooms across America which are not corrected, causing our students to believe pieces of history or details of the world around us that are simply not true. Other details are not mentioned in texts, practically erasing them from our national memory. Today’s book is one of those.
It is practically impossible to complete middle school anywhere in America without reading all or part of the book “A Diary of Anne Frank,” published by a grieving Jewish father going through the things of his daughter who died in a concentration camp during World War II. It is perfectly logical for middle school students to read this book – they are old enough to handle the content and reading level, and they are near Anne Frank’s age. However, another book from this same time period shows another aspect of WWII in a book which is only advertised by word of mouth by those who have read it. It is very well written, but because of some of the intense situations in the book, I would not recommend anyone younger than 16 read this book. It does get very emotional at times and confronts many situations which you will want to discuss. (Okay, I am over forty and I really want to discuss some situations with someone who has read it!) There is a movie also which Corrie Ten Boom herself approved before it was released, and she even appears at the end, so even though it does not show everything that happens in the book, Corrie herself said it portrayed the scenes accurately. It can be confusing, though, so read the book first.
Corrie Ten Boom and her family lived in Holland in the early 1900’s. She and her sister, elderly spinsters, lived with their widowed father. They were not a Jewish family, but instead they were a strong Christian family who believed in the God of the Bible and that He would keep His promises. Daily, Corrie voluntarily taught a group of special needs children about God. She was also a certified watchmaker, like her father, and her sister helped them around the house. Their shop was located on the bottom floor of their multi-story home, and they were very well known and liked by the citizens of their city of Haarlem in Holland.
When the Nazis invaded Holland, life changed drastically for this family. Corrie’s family saw and did not like the events around them. Ration cards were issued and people whose identity cards were marked with a “J” had to wear a Star of David on their clothing. In protest, Corrie’s father insisted on wearing a Star of David on his own clothing, something which everyone from the Nazi soldiers to Jews to his own pastor disapproved. Corrie’s special needs classes were forced to stop.
The Ten Boom family found themselves using their home as a weigh station for Jews trying to escape before they were evacuated to concentration camps. They follow the teachings of the Bible throughout the dangerous situations, refusing to participate in activities which will result in deaths. Unfortunately, they are found out and Corrie, her father, and her sister are taken to concentration camps as political prisoners.
Through it all, and certainly inside the camps, Corrie and her sister depend on scripture for their strength. After they have been relocated to Germany, they smuggled a Bible through the strip searches in a way that could only have been done with the help of God. They use this little book to teach those in their cabin. In one scene of the movie, a Nazi soldier is removing dead bodies from the cabins. She and another soldier say that 23 were removed from one cabin that day, 18 from another, yet from the cabin where the Ten Boom sisters are staying, they did not remove any dead. “Keep looking. They must be there somewhere,” one soldier states. God carried them through their struggles in ways that it is very obvious that His Hand is all that could have helped them.
Corrie includes family photos of the people mentioned in the book, and in the movie they worked hard to make the actors look like those they are portraying. Keep a box (yes, a whole box) of tissues nearby as you read the book and you will need another one when you watch the movie (which you will want to do when you finish the book). While I was sad that some scenes were omitted in the movie, it is impossible to show everything in two hours. It does keep to the story, though, and shows (accurately, in my opinion) the main events from the book.
Whether you are schooling a high school age homeschooler and are looking for material to read about WWII or you are an adult looking for a good book to read, I highly recommend reading “The Hiding Place” by Corrie TenBoom.