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The Hiding Place

In preparation to our upcoming trip to the Netherlands, I'm rereading Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place." What a beautiful book! It is the nearly unbelievable story of a Christian family in Haarlem who found themselves - almost by chance - helping and hiding Jews in Nazi occupied Haarlem in WWII. It is sweet, funny, sad, and terrifying, all at the same time.

It is definitely a "Christian" book, so those of you who are non- or even anti-religious might take a deep breath before you read it, but please read it. It's a perfect example of a family living out their ideals, even when it means putting themselves in grave danger. And it shows a side of WWII that we seldom see.

Posted by
2916 posts

We are staying near Haarlem for 3 weeks in April so I just finished reading it too in anticipation of visiting her home. I think we'll need to book an appointment.

Posted by
333 posts

I read "The Hiding Place" both times before visiting the Corrie Ten Boom house, as well as "The Diary of Anne Frank" before visiting her house in Amsterdam. Its definitely more special to have the story close to your head and heart before you visit. Its great too if you can see both homes within a short time frame since they show both important sides of that particular WW2 experience. While The Hiding Place is definitely a Christian book, it also reads very well as a historical piece. Corrie and her family were directly responsible for saving over 600 lives and their calling to help all people, most especially the persecuted (those with physical and mental handicaps, the elderly, etc.). Their love for the Jews goes back many generations in their family so hiding them to save them was only an extension of that love.

You can't buy advanced tickets to Corrie's house. They have several tours a day at specific times, two (I believe) are conducted in English. Its first come first served with a max capacity of 30 in the house at a time. The first time I went, my daughter and I were over an hour early and first in line, with a big flood of shoving people at the last minute. On that tour, in 2012, our guide was patient and gave us plenty of time to look around. We were allowed to take pictures. We didn't get to spend much time in Corrie's room where the secret closet is located, not did we get to go inside the closet. However, with permission I "snuck" back up to her room at the end of the tour to take pictures and spend a minute privately. When I went again in 2015, we had a full group but people were more orderly. However, our guide was more "rushed" and we were discouraged from taking pictures (though we were completely forbidden from taking them in the family room where the family pictures are located). That guide did let me and a few others go back to Corrie's room to take pictures and (if we wanted to) we could explore the closet.

The Ten Booms have little to do with the museum anymore and there are no family members in the area any longer. But the house is an important place to visit for any WW2 buff or history buff. I'll gladly go back a 3rd time should I be allowed the privilege to.

I hope seeing Corrie's house is as special for you all as it was for me!
Lisa

Posted by
4657 posts

Lisa, thank you for your beautiful comments. I'm rather embarrassed to say that the first time we were in Haarlem, in 2011, I didn't know the Ten Boom story, and so didn't visit the home. When we returned home from our trip, I read the book. This time, I'm hoping to visit the home. We're arriving in Haarlem 3 days in advance of our 21 Day Best of Europe tour, and I'm planning to tour the Ten Boom house.

Last time we were there, we did visit the Frans Hals museum, as well as Teyler's Museum. We loved them both, and hope to return. We are planning to get museumkaarts, since we're returning to the Netherlands for a few days after the BOE tour.

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940 posts

You can make reservations for the Corrie Ten Boom Huis morning tours, and I recommend doing so. Make sure you take your confirmation with you. It is first come, first served only after people with prior reservations are admitted, assuming there is enough room. You want to make sure you get in, so make the reservation. Afternoon you take your chance. On this year's visit we were allowed NO pictures at all and people who were caught taking them were soundly scolded. This must be a new policy, or else the policy of that particular guide. Here's a link to the site. CorrieTenBoomInfo

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333 posts

WOW- the reservations thing must be new too. They didn't used to allow them, unless you booked a private tour. If they're allowing them now, by all means, book it as soon as you can! What a bummer if they're not allowing pictures at all. That being said, its really something to go through the house. When you read books such as The Hiding Place or Anne Frank, you get such a visual in your head- then you visit the place and its like... whaaaa????? But reading them right before you go- and then after... you can transport yourself. You can sit in the crowded living room and imagine the entertainments they used to have... go through the dining room and picture crowds around that table and Betsey running to and from the kitchen. The only disappointment (its a small one) is not being allowed into the watch shop and not really having time to peek through the glass INTO the watch shop. They have a glass panel so you can peek, but with the crowds and the hurry into the house, you don't really get time to SEE. I like to be able to take a minute to be in the moment at such places- to feel them and absorb their energy. I got to do that my first time at the Anne Frank house. I found myself alone in the kitchen and I went to the sink and imagined Anne peeling potatoes for supper... such an ordinary thing under the most extraordinary of circumstances. It was a profound moment for me and if I take the time, I can put myself right back there... Same with Corrie's house that first time. When I snuck back for pictures and had that brief moment of solitude... I could see Corrie, sick in her bed, the door pushed open and the mad, quiet rush of the hiders into the tiny closet... and Corrie trying to catch her thoughts through her raging fever... putting her precious bag in front of the secret panel, just in time... and then the soldiers... and the beating...

I sincerely hope you get such moments, Jane! Its great you're getting there a few days early. There is so much to see in Haarlem and of course Amsterdam too. My daughter and I enjoyed the Haarlem Museum of Psychiatry (Het Dolhuys- The Crazy House) when we were there in 2012. I would have loved to have visited the sea while in Haarlem in 2015, but just ran out of time! Since you saw many of the "big ticket" items last time, you might have fun exploring some of the more obscure and unusual places this time. ;-)

Is this your first BOE? I took the 21BOE in the spring of 2015 and just finished the similar 14BOE My Way Tour this last September. You are going to have so much fun! My friend and travel buddy, Herb, is repeating the 21BOE in May and I'm trying not to be jealous, lol. So many great places on that itinerary!

Merry Christmas!
Lisa

Posted by
357 posts

We will in Haarlem (as a hone base) in April for a week. I read the book in the 70’s so instead of rereading (time’s an issue) I watched the movie. Not ideal but a good option if the story is new to you.
Thanks for the heads up on reservations.

Posted by
2164 posts

I read both The Hiding Place and Anne Frank's diary as a 10 year old and they made a huge impact on me, instilling a life-long interest in WWII and particularly the experience of the Jews. I finally visited Anne's house this April and didn't have time for a trip to Haarlem to see the Ten Boom house but that is definitely on my agenda for a return visit.

Posted by
2102 posts

Yes, definitely make reservations for the Corrie Ten Boom museum. Haarlem is a lovely city. I also think the Netherlands is one if those overlooked countries. We spent 9 days in Amsterdam with days trips and still didn't get to all on our list. It was my second visit, my companions first. We will definitely get back there someday.

Posted by
3540 posts

I agree that visiting Corrie Ten Boom's home is quite interesting and moving. You can reserve places on the English Language Tours. This is a good idea because the size of the group is limited since the home is actually quite small. I found that the story of this family who easily could have been "safe" but chose instead to live out their beliefs and help others quite moving.

I actually heard Corrie speak when I was in college and she was touring the US. I watched the movie prior to my trip as well.

It is easily access from Amsterdam. Simply take the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Harlem. There is a short walk of about 10 blocks to the Ten Boom home. Here is the link to the site for information and reservations.

https://www.corrietenboom.com/en/information/the-museum

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940 posts

We first visited the Corrie Ten Boom Huis in 2015 before we took the RS 21 day tour. Our guide was excellent, just excellent, and we felt we had plenty of time on the tour. My husband is an atheist and he enjoyed hearing all of the history of the house and the Ten Booms. This year just my sister and I visited. My husband would not have enjoyed the tour. Thank goodness he chose to visit a coffee shop while we toured. It was very rushed and overtly religious in nature, totally unlike before. I was really surprised at the tone as it was so different, and honestly I think it might just be the luck of what guide one gets. Both my sister and I are Christians and even we found it somewhat over the top. I was disappointed that our visit was not nearly as good as before and I could tell my sister didn't understand what a big deal I had made about us visiting. Would I visit it again? You betcha, on the chance that I got a different guide, because when the guide is good it is a fabulous tour!

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3558 posts

We were in Haarlem in early April, 2013. Our English language tour was neither rushed nor evangelical. I think there were about 10 people. We had plenty of time and were encouraged to take pictures. It sounds like things have changed.

If you are thinking about skipping the Frans Hals Museum, be sure to check on any special exhibit they may be having before you decide. Right now I'm not seeing any exhibitions listed on the website after 18 March. By Googling "frans hals museum exhibitions 2018" I found a PDF listing exhibitions for the rest of the year along with changes to the museum. Those changes are also described here.

When we were there we paid the extra fee, got the headsets and saw an absolutely wonderful exhibit called "Frans Hals Eye to Eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian 23 March to 28 July 2013." It was one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. I would expect the same of any special exhibition they do.

Posted by
4657 posts

Wow! What great responses. Lisa, no, this is our second BOE. We took it in 2011, after my DH had seen the RS promotional video. "That's it," he said, "That's the tour I want to take." So we did. It remains his favorite tour to this very day (out of 11) and he suggested we revisit it in 2018 in honor of a milestone anniversary.

I will look into Het Dolhuys. It sounds worth a trip. And my psychiatrist brother-in-law would be interested in our visit there, as well. Any other suggestions for out of the mainstream Haarlem sights?

Carol and Nance, thanks for the link. I'll definitely try to get reservation for the Ten Boom House, and hope for one of the slower paced, less evangelical guides. (I myself am a practicing Catholic, but my DH, although raised Methodist, is less interested in organized religion. [I'm being tactful here, or trying to.])

Lo, we are planning to revisit the Hals museum; we love his work. And Teyler's Museum was just the ticket for my packrat DH, so we may well go back there, as well.

Thanks everyone.

Posted by
1275 posts

Thanks for the lovely thread. I've read the diary of Anne Frank several times, but somehow never read the hiding place, tho I vaguely remember the movie being in theaters . Its been added to my reading list for 2018!

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2755 posts

We went to the Corrie Boom house years ago, 2000, I believe. I'm glad to hear that not all the guides proselytize as that is all we received from our tour. We felt tricked and taken advantage of. The experience left an extremely bad impression on both of us. However, now I am intrigued by all the comments to read this book, which I never knew existed, so perhaps I might better understand what my tour should have been about... Thanks!

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4657 posts

I just made reservations for the Corrie ten Boom House next April! Thanks to those of you (Barbara, Carol, Nance) who suggested reservations and/or supplied links.

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1275 posts

I already have in the physical pile on my night stand a new for me story if the ww 2 resistance in Greece "something beautiful happened" by yvette manessis corporon

Posted by
698 posts

Read both Corrie ten Boom's book and re-read the Anne Frank diary. Such timeless reads. I feel it helped me prepare for the places we visited, not to mention being such great testimonies to perseverance (or the attempt thereof).

What are you reading to prepare you for your 8 upcoming days in Italy, @Jane?

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4657 posts

Kathy, I'm still in Netherlands mode. I just finished "Vermeer's Hat" by Timothy Brook, and have started "Eye of the Beholder" by Laura Snyder. The Snyder book was recommended by another poster on a thread I started.

As soon as I finish it, I'll head back to Italy prep. We're refreshing our (minimal) language skills, and will probably watch (for the umpteenth time) two favorite Italian films: Pranzo di Ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch) and Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips.) The first is set in Rome, the second in Venice. They are both sweet, and funny, and well worth watching. Again.

When I decide what to read, I'll let you know. Probably something on art, or on the Medicis.

I am rereading Rick's Europe 101. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. It's an overview of history and art of Europe, from prehistoric times to the present. You public library should have it. Also the movies.

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996 posts

There is a book called 'I Am Rosemarie' which may not be 100% historically accurate, but it gives a good idea of the desperation that many Jews suffered during that period. Given that many people never lived to tell their own stories, it's another version which may be interesting reading for those who want to know more about that period, esp. for those who cannot ask actual survivors.