The never ending pursuit of the beautiful -- part 7
Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom was born April 15, 1892 in Holland. Corrie had two sisters, Betsy and Nollie, and one brother, Willem. Corrie's father, Casper ten Boom ran the house alone after Corrie's mother died in 1918. The Beje was the name of the house that Casper had inherited from his father along with the watch shop in the front lower section of the house. When she was 48 years of age, on seeing what was happening in Holland under the national-socialist regime -especially the unrelenting persecution of Jews- she decided that she had to do something about it. She then devised a way to assist them, an idea that met at once with her father's and brother's approval. She conceived the idea that the family's house be used as a refuge. Some six or seven persons could be hidden there. When her idea was put into practice, four of the refugees were Jews while the rest were Dutch resistance fighters. On some occasions they stayed there for a few hours only, using it as a waiting place in transit to other safe-havens; on other occasions they remained for months until they could leave for other places. But once the idea was put into operation the flow of persecuted persons became permanent. In this way, little by little, Corrie found herself heading a network formed by some eighty persons, the "Beje" Group ("Beje" the business name of the shop), who devoted themselves to seek refuges in houses of other courageous Dutchmen who could grant asylum in the way she herself did. Most of her time she was busy taking care of the refugees, once she could find a place where to lodge them. It is estimated that in this way she saved the lives of about 800 Jews, as well as numerous members of the Dutch resistance and students who were persecuted for refusing to cooperate with the Nazis.
In 1978 she suffered a cerebral-vascular stroke that left her paralyzed. She passed away on April 15, 1983, on her 91st birthday. It is most remarkable that she should have left this world on that particular date. In accordance with Jewish tradition, only those persons specially blessed by God are granted the privilege of dying on the same date of their birthday.
Corrie ten Boom was an ordinary person with the fortitude of character to live an extraordinary life. She was certainly not alone in her efforts but her own dedication makes her stand out. As a reward for the work she did the Nazis put her in a concentration camp. The rest of her family died or became forever missing in their custody. Their sacrifice is a legacy to all of us to stand against all forms of oppression of those around us. While under detention, Corrie's father Casper was informed that he could be condemned to death for saving Jews, he declared: "It would be a honor to give my life for God's chosen people". For reasons that my words cannot do justice to and my tears emphasize I say that Corrie ten Boom and the ten Boom family were beautiful.