The idea of a book on ten Boom's life began as John and Elizabeth Sherrill were doing research for the book God's Smuggler, about ten Boom's fellow Dutchman, Brother Andrew. Corrie ten Boom was already in her mid-seventies when the Sherills first heard about her. She was one of Brother Andrew's favorite traveling companions and many of his recollections were about her. In the preface to the book, the Sherills recount:
It was later made into a film of the same name.
The title refers to both the physical hiding place where the ten Boom family secreted Jews from the Nazis, and also to the Scriptural message from the Book of Isaiah which states in part, "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word... Hold thou me up, and I...
In the next few chapters, Corrie talks about her childhood, her infirm but glad-hearted mother, and the three aunts who once lived in the Beje. She talks about the only man she ever loved, a young man named Karel, who ultimately married a woman from a rich family.
Eventually, both Nollie and Willem married. After the deaths of Corrie's mother and aunts, Corrie, Betsie, and their father settled down into a pleasant domestic life. Then, in 1940, the Nazis invaded Holland.
Due to the family's strong Christian beliefs, they felt obligated to help their Jewish friends in every way possible. The Beje soon became the center for a major anti-Nazi operation. Corrie, who had grown to think of herself as a middle-aged spinster, found herself involved in black market operations, stealing ration cards, and eventually, hiding Jews in her own home.
Corrie suffered a moral crisis over this work; not from helping the Jews, but from what she had to do to accomplish this: lying, theft, forgery, bribery, and even arranging a robbery. The Dutch underground arranged for a secret room to be built in the Beje, so the Jews would have a place to hide in the event of the inevitable raid.
When a man asked Corrie to help his wife, who had been arrested, Corrie agreed, but with misgivings. As it turned out, the man was a spy, and the watch shop was raided. The entire ten Boom family was arrested, along with the shop employees, though the Jews managed to hide themselves in the secret room.
Casper was well into his eighties by this time, and a Nazi official offered to let him go, provided he made no more trouble. Casper could not agree to this, and was shipped to prison. It is later learned he died shortly after.
Corrie was sent to Scheveningen, a Dutch prison which was used by the Nazis for political prisoners, nicknamed 'Oranjehotel'--a hotel for people loyal to the House of Orange. She later learned her sister was being held in another cell, and that, aside from her father, all other family members and friends had been released. A coded letter from Nollie revealed that the hidden Jews were safe. Corrie befriended a depressed Nazi officer, who arranged a brief meeting with her family, under the pretense of reading Casper's will. She was horrified to see how ill Willem was, as he had contracted jaundice in prison. He would eventually die from his illnesses in 1946. Corrie also learned that her nephew, Kik, had been captured while working with the Dutch underground. He had been killed, though the family did not learn of this until 1953.
After four months at Scheveningen, Corrie and Betsie were transferred to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp for political prisoners. Corrie was assigned to a factory that made radios for aircraft. The work was not hard, and the prisoner-foreman, Mr. Moorman, was kind. Betsie, whose health was starting to fail, was sent to work sewing prison uniforms.
When a counter-offensive against the Nazis seemed imminent, the prisoners were shipped by train to Germany, where they were imprisoned at Ravensbrück, a notorious women's concentration camp. The conditions there were hellish; both Corrie and Betsie were forced to perform back-breaking manual labor. It was there that Betsie's health failed and she died. Corrie was later released, due to what later proved a clerical error. Though she was forced to stay in a hospital barracks while recovering from edema, Corrie arrived back in Holland by January of 1945.
Throughout the ordeal, Corrie was amazed at her sister's faith. In every camp, the sisters used a hidden Bible to teach their fellow prisoners about Jesus. In Ravensbrück, where there was only hatred and misery, Corrie found it hard to look to Heaven. Betsie, however, showed a universal love for everyone. Not only for the prisoners, but, amazingly for the Nazis. Instead of feeling anger, she pitied the Germans, sorrowful that they were so blinded by hatred. She yearned to show them the love of Christ, but died before the war was over.
After the war, Corrie began to put her sister's dream into action. Using the Beje, along with a donated mansion, and even an old concentration camp, Corrie began ministering to those hurt by the war--Dutch and German alike. Corrie's own faith was put to the test, when, after preaching in Germany, she met a former guard who humiliated her sister. It is then she decided that God's love can conquer all.