Day Trip To Haarlem, Netherlands & The Corrie Ten Boom House (The Hiding Place)

At the end of our trip along the Danube from Bucharest to Vienna, we stopped in Amsterdam for a few days before returning home.  Actually we jetted right past home and went to California for our twice annual family reunion at Shaver Lake in the Sierra Nevada outside of Fresno.

From the train between Amsterdam and Haarlem. I thought the contrast of the factory smokestacks and the windmills was worth a photo. There are lots of windmills in the Netherlands. Some old ones still work and many new ones like these.

One day we went on a 20 minute train ride to Haarlem.   It is a much smaller city than Amsterdam.   A very clean and nice walking town.    We had lunch outside in the square and walked around the town.

Lunch in the Haarlem City Square. You can share with the pigeons.

It was interesting seeing how the bicyclists observed (or not) the walking only streets.    The conservative bikers got off and walked their bikes.   Some younger ones zoomed along dodging pedestrians.   The mildly rebellious stood on one pedal and pushed the bike like a scooter.    Interesting.  What would you or I do?

This is the Ten Boom house just as it was used in the Dutch Resistance as a hiding and smuggling station for Jews in WWII. The watch shop is still operating on the ground floor with living quarters above. You can see the one bicyclist obeying the walking only street signs. Like most, but not all.

We could see that boating around on the many canals would be fun.   We thought of our friends Steve and Debbie.  I’m sure they’ll be on Netherlands canals one of these days.

One thing we wanted to see in Haarlem was the Corrie Ten Boom house and museum.   The Ten Boom family had been part of the Dutch Resistance in World War II.   They hid and transported many Jews and others who were being hunted by the Nazi regime.   Over 800 people went thru their house before they were caught and sent to concentration camps.

She is stepping out of the hiding place thru a cutaway that was added later. An architect was retained to make a false wall with a space behind it. When the Nazis came, there were several in the hiding place. They remained quiet for 47 hours and finally escaped through the roof. Can you see the entrance? The Nazis couldn't either.

Corrie was the only one of the family to survive the camps and spent the next 40 years speaking and writing about her experience.   The movie “The Hiding Place” is about their experiences hiding Jews from the Nazis and in the camps after their capture.     The original house with the Hiding Place is open as a museum.   The downstairs is still the Ten Boom Watchmakers store, which was papa Ten Boom’s occupation.

Entry door to the Hiding Place

It was interesting reading reviews in Trip Advisor before we went.   Some people felt that the message was too evangelistic for them … and some Jewish visitors felt their history was being exploited.    With our particular tour guide, we saw no validity for either of those complaints.   There were some Jewish people on the tour and they seemed pleased and added some commentary.    The message by the volunteer tour guide was simply what these people did and that they risked their lives to follow Jesus teaching to help people and resist evil.

This is what you see in the alley. It will tell you what time the next tour in your language will be.

One example that she shared was that Papa Ten Boom, the watchmaker, would have been allowed to stay in his home because he was over 80 years old.  The only requirement was that he must promise not to smuggle any more Jews.    He said, “If someone comes to me and needs my help, I will help them”    The SS officer said, “OK then, You go with the rest of them.”  and he was loaded onto the train to the camps.   With the harsh treatment he was dead in two weeks.   People of any faith can recognize that as the actions of true faith, not a faith of convenience.

One other example that would test anyone’s faith came later when Corrie was speaking and sharing her testimony and a man came out of the audience.  She recognized him as the guard who had beat her and her sister in the concentration camps.   He had become a Christian and  had found forgiveness from God, but was now asking for her forgiveness.   She prayed and said, “God, I can’t do this.  You need to help me.”    And he did.    Isn’t that what God is about.  Doing the impossible.

Tours are an hour long and limited to 25 people due to the tight quarters.

There are no reservations so the first thing to do is go to the house and a sign will say when the next tour in your language will be.  Then go about 50 yards to the city square for lunch or go walk along the canals.

In the Ten Boom Living Room. Our tour guide, on the stool was a volunteer who did an excellent job explaining the part that Corrie and this house played in the Dutch Resistance in WW II

There is no admission fee, but Corrie’s books are for sale in the dining room and donations are accepted.   When you are in Amsterdam for a few days, a short train trip down to Haarlem and the Corrie Ten Boom museum is definitely worthwhile.

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