The Hiding Place (1975)

 

 

Director:  James F. Collier. 

Starring:  Tom van Beek (Dr. Heemstra), Jeannette Clift (Corrie ten Boom), Janet Davies, David de Keyser (Eusie), John Gabriel (Prof. Ziener), Carol Gillies ('The Snake,' Camp Matron), Julie Harris (Betsie ten Boom), Broes Hartman (Dutch Policeman), Nigel Hawthorne (Pastor De Ruiter), Eileen Heckart (Katie), Paul Henley (Peter ten Boom), Janette Legge (Erika), Arthur O'Connell (Casper ten Boom), Irene Prador (Wrochek), Robert Rietty (Willem ten Boom), Norman Rodway, Cyril Shaps (Building Inspector Smil), Pamela Sholto (Tine), Corrie Ten Boom (Herself), Lex van Delden (Young German Officer), Lillias Walker (Chief Nurse), Richard Wren (Kik ten Boom).

 Corrie ten Boom recounts her and her family's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

1837-1937.  The centennial of the ten Boom clock and watch business. 

Haarlem, Holland; Spring 1940. 

Broadcast from the BBC in Britain, the Queen of the Netherlands speaks to her people two weeks after the German occupation of the Netherlands.  She sends a message of hope and ends with:  "Long live the Netherlands!"  At family dinner table the ten Booms stand while listening to the Queen's message. 

The Germans go house to house.  All residents must surrender their radios.  The Germans are assisted by the Dutch police.  The ten Booms give up their radios to them.  With the Nazi occupation, there is a new atmosphere in the Netherlands.  Signs are placed in different locations saying "Jews not welcome".  Then all Jews are told to wear big yellow stars on their clothing.  Grandfather ten Boom, although he is not Jewish, wants to show his solidarity with the minority.  He stands in a long line to wait to get a yellow star.  One of the Jewish men asks him why he is standing in line?  After he hears the explanation, he insists that ten Boom go home, but stubborn granddad stays in line.   

Middle-aged Corrie and Betsie ten Boom have taught a religious class to mentally retarded children for a long time, but Corrie tells a German soldier that the class now with her will be her last, since there is a new law against unlawful congregating.   Their pastor visits the ten Boom house.  He wants to speak with Grandfather about the yellow star.  Dr. Heemstra comes in with a Jewish baby and the ten Booms agree to assist her escape from German-held territory.  When the pastor sees this he tells the ten Booms that they cannot keep the child, but the two sisters say:  "We will keep the child."  The pastor says:  "It is on your heads!"  Brother Willem takes the baby to the countryside where he will be safer.  Everyday around 400 Jewish people are sent out of the Netherlands from Amsterdam Central Station. 

Grandfather is going to shave, but he runs into a complete stranger in his bathroom.  He turns around and goes to his daughters to ask what's up.  They apologize for not telling him sooner and explain that the man is a professor.  The women dress him in female clothing and take him down to the docks where he can catch a boat to freedom. 

The ten Booms help so many people that they are contacted by a group working on an underground railroad.   The family explains:  "We open the door to anyone who knocks."  After the talk, they ask:  "Do we pass inspection?"  Yes. They have eight rooms available for the cause.  The family is warned to watch what they place in their waste baskets and ash trays, because the Gestapo definitely checks them.  The group sends a brick layer to create a false wall behind which the refugees can hide in an emergency. 

It gets very difficult after a while to feed so many "guests".  The ten Booms work with men in the ration card office to get 100 ration cards, which solves the problem.  For entertainment the residents of the house sing.  One evening someone knocks on the door sending everyone into action to hide all the evidence and to hide the persecuted.  But it is only a neighbor, who firmly warns the family:  "The whole street can hear your Jews singing."  The family is grateful for the warning. 

Corrie is called in to the Dutch police.  The police officer she speaks with tells her that her family's house has become known locally as "God's underground."  He asks Corrie to pass the name of a Dutch collaborator who betrays people to the Gestapo to the Dutch underground so they can eliminate him.  But Corrie's very firm religious beliefs prevent her from taking the name. 

One of the visitors asks Corrie about herself and her sister.  She explains that Betsie was unwell as a young woman, could not bear children and decided not to marry.  Corrie had a young man, but his family did not like her because her family was of a lower social rank than theirs.  But, she insists:  "God has been good to me."

A Dutchman named Jan Vogel comes to the house saying he needs 600 guilders to bribe a policeman to get his wife out of prison.  Then she will need a hiding place.  Betsie tells him to come back another day and she will have the money for him.  He returns all right, but with the Gestapo.  They break into the house.  Corrie is slapped around a bit.  They want to know where are the ration cards, where are the Jews and where is the secret room.  Another question is:  "Why all these ration cards?"  The ten Booms are all arrested.  A German officer tells grandfather that he can stay in the house, but he refuses and goes with the other members of his family.  The officer gives the order to seal the house.  (Later, another ten Boom enters the sealed house and lets the refugees out of the secret hiding place.)

The men and women are separated and placed in jail cells.  A fellow inmate named Katie, who works to feed the jailed persons, can get various items for the women.  Corrie asks for a Bible and Katie gets it for her.   One day Corrie is send to see the warden.  He explains to her that her father died in the hallway of a hospital waiting for medical care. 

All the women are released from their cells.  They then board a "cattle" train.  They are taken to the concentration camp Ravensbruck, 90 km from Berlin.  Every morning they have to get up at 4:30 to work.  The sadistic female guard tells them:  "There's only one road to freedom: work!"  There follows scene after scene portraying the terrible treatment of the women at the camp.  A mentally challenged woman is beaten to death.  The conditions are so bad that the women start dying of exhaustion, disease and malnutrition.  Betsie becomes so weak that she can barely carry a bucket of rocks.  When she says she can't carry any more weight, the sadistic guards lashes her with her whip saying that it is she who tells the prisoners how much weight they will carry.  Katie still continues her black market work, buy gets a little too careless and is severely hurt by some German soldiers.  Poor Betsie dies in the camp hospital.  

December 28, 1944.  Corrie's sentence is completed and she is allowed to return home.  Much later she learned that her release came through because of some clerical error.  She was mistakenly released. 

March 9, 1944.  Casper ten Boom (Grandfather) died at the Hague Municipal Hospital. 

Date unknown.   Kik ten Boom died at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. 

December 12, 1945.  Willem ten Boom died from hepatitis contracted in prison. 

December 16, 1945.  Betsie ten Boom died at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. 

At the time of the making of the movie, Corrie was still alive.  She continued to do her religious work, but now in 60 different countries. 

 

Good movie.  Not everyone who was in the concentration camps were Jewish.  Communists, socialists, homosexuals, Gypsies and many others were put in the camps.  The Christian ten Booms of the Netherlands were put in concentration camps because of their work in the underground railroad.  A good sense of the suffering in the camps is portrayed.  The ten Boom sisters, as well as other members of the family, were sustained by their deep religious beliefs. 

I thought the movie was a little too long.  There were a lot of mentions and discussions of religion in the movie; so many that I began to feel the movie was becoming a little too preachy.  Some of these scenes could have been cut.  And there was example after example of the terribleness of the camps and the guards.  You know it doesn't take too many scenes to realize that the Germans were absolute bastards during the lead up to and during World War II.  This was no ordinary European war.  Hitler meant to not only defeat his enemies and gain some land and other concessions, but to continually occupy and even own the other countries.  This was something new in European warfare and ultimately contributed to Hitler's own demise. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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