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The Woman Who Saved 800 Jews: Corrie ten Boom

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
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August 25, 2022 3:05 am

The Woman Who Saved 800 Jews: Corrie ten Boom

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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August 25, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, here again with his reoccurring series is Hair of the Dog to Paint the Town Red: The Curious Origins of Everyday Sayings and Fun Phrases author, Andrew Thompson, as he continues to share another slice from his ultimate guide to understanding these baffling mini mysteries of the English language. All in all, it is estimated that around 800 Jews were saved by Corrie ten Boom and her family. Hear Corrie (who moved to and is buried in the United States) tell her story!

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Time Codes:

00:00 - “Put A Sock In It” and the Wonderful Origins of Everyday Expressions

10:00 - The Woman Who Saved 800 Jews: Corrie ten Boom

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Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb

MUSIC Again, it's Andrew Thompson as he continues to share another slice from his ultimate guide to understanding these many mysteries of the English language.

Here's Andrew. To combat this, horn players would stuff an actual sock into the mouth of their instrument, and if the conductor thought it was necessary he would yell out, put a sock in it, and then by the 1920s this expression was being used colloquially. To put the dampers on something means to make something less enjoyable or to reduce your enthusiasm for something, and a lot of people actually think the phrase is put a damper on something because of the notion of putting water to dampen out a fire, but it's actually put the dampers on and it began with music as well. A damper is a device used on piano strings. It's operated by a foot pedal and presses against the strings. This reduces the sound of the piano.

When the conductor instructs the orchestra to put the dampers on, he wants to tone down the volume of the performance. To be put through the mill means to go through a hardship or rough treatment, and it derives from the flower making process in medieval England. Before electricity was invented, classical mills were usually powered by water which turned a large wheel. This turned two heavy circular stones which were laid on top of each other. Cereal seeds were fed through the top stone and they would be finely ground to produce flour.

By the 1800s, being put through the mill came to refer to a person going through a similar hardship, similar to the process of being ground down like a grain in a mill. If you say to someone, put your thinking cap on, you're telling them to think seriously about a problem or to concentrate, and that expression originated with the judges of the early law courts in England. It was customary at the time for a judge to put a black cap on to show the court that he'd heard all the evidence in a criminal trial. The cap was a signal that the judge was ready to deliberate his verdict before passing sentence.

Because judges were learned men and respected intellectuals, the cap was referred to as a thinking cap, and then the expression took on its broader meaning by the mid 19th century. A Pyrrhic victory is a victory gained at too great a cost, and it's a phrase that comes from the Greek king Pyrrhus. His army fought the Romans during the Pyrrhic war for control of the Magna Graecia.

In one battle in southern Italy in 279 BC, Pyrrhus defeated the Romans but he suffered severe losses, including most of his principal commanders. He was later quoted as saying, another such victory and we are lost, and that spawned the expression Pyrrhic victory, which was used figuratively from the late 1800s. Raining cats and dogs means very hard rain, and it has a number of potential origins, but the seafaring one is the most compelling. According to an ancient nautical myth, it was believed that cats had an influence over storms, while dogs were a symbol of the wind. This belief was held by the Vikings. Odin, the Norse storm god, was frequently shown surrounded by dogs and wolves. And this led early sailors to believe that in any storm the rain was caused by the cats and the winds were brought by the dogs.

So raining cats and dogs came to mean any heavy rain and wind. To read between the lines means to discern a meaning that isn't obvious, and it's an expression that derives from the early days of cryptography in the 19th century. Cryptography involves encoding messages into seemingly normal text. One of the first techniques used to pass codes was to write the message on every second line and have an unrelated innocent message across all the lines. So when read normally and in its entirety, the story was simple and made sense and did not reveal any code.

But it was only when the alternate lines were read that the code was able to be deciphered. If you read the riot act to someone, that means you're berating them harshly. And that's from the 18th century, where reading the riot act would literally happen. It started in 1715 with the riot act, which gave British magistrates the authority to label any group of more than 12 people a threat to the peace. When such a group gathered, a public official would read aloud a section of the riot act which demanded people immediately disperse themselves and go about their lawful business. Anyone who remained after one hour was subject to removal by force and arrest.

This riot act actually remained in effect until 1973. If you say something's the real McCoy, you're saying it's an authentic or genuine personal thing, not a substitute. And it's an expression with a number of potential origins that have been hotly contested over the years. The most cogent theory is that it derives from a man named Kid McCoy, which was a name used by Norman Selby, the American welterweight boxer who dominated the sport in the 1890s. McCoy had many imitators who would use his name in an attempt to capitalise on his popularity. And it became so commonplace for Kid McCoy imposters at fairgrounds that not many people actually believed it was ever the real Kid McCoy. Then years after he retired, McCoy was in a bar when he was challenged by a drunk who was much bigger than him. The drunk's friend warned him not to fight McCoy, but the drunk didn't believe it was him. Then provoked to his limit, McCoy knocked the man out with a single blow.

When he came to, the drunk admitted, you're right, he's the real McCoy. A red herring is a misleading clue, and that expression dates from the 18th century. At the time, herrings were caught in great numbers, and because there were no refrigeration, they were preserved by smoking. The smoking process turned the fish a reddish-brown colour and also gave it a pungent odour. In an attempt to sabotage a fox hunt, people who were against the sport would drag the strong-smelling red herring across the trail to mislead the hunting dogs and throw them off the scent. The dogs would often follow the scent of the red herring instead of the fox. And a special thanks to Greg Hengler for the production on the piece, and to Andrew Thompson for sharing with us these stories of everyday sayings. By the way, you can get his book, Hair of the Dog, to paint the town red, the curious origins of everyday sayings and fun phrases in Amazon or the usual suspects.

The stories of everyday sayings, here on Our American Stories. Music Music Music Music Music Music Music Music Music Music I was once this big, huge army going through the streets to make impression on us, and I can still remember these boots marching over the streets. It was strange when the German uniforms were seen, and we had to obey the people of the occupation. Music The beginning was not so terrible. We had only five days war, then we had to surrender, and it seemed that things were a little bit the same as before. Music Betsy tried to keep our life as normal as was possible. She didn't agree with all the things that the enemy told us to do, and she tried even to make the meals as normal and good as before. We really learned to know the people around us. There were friends who always thought you can depend on them, but they changed. They could get some more food when they helped the enemy, but the example of my father was a great help.

Although he was at last a weak old man, his spiritual strength helped all of us. Music When the Germans came in Holland, the young men especially were in great danger. They needed workers in ammunition factories. They came and took the boys just from the street. These rations were terrible. Almost every family was really in great danger and need.

I think of my nephews, Kick and Peter. Sometimes when they had to go to the street, then we gave them girls' dresses. Sometimes we have laughed when they went in girls' dresses in the street, but in reality it was very sad. During the first year of German rule, there were only minor attacks on Jews in Holland. It was as though they were trying, testing the temper of the country.

On our daily walk, Father and I saw the symptoms spread. Jews will not be served. No Jews. It began slowly, but the Nazi propaganda machine spewed out its poison. The yellow star served to mark the prey. In the early morning hours, many loyal Dutchmen were forced from their beds. They left their homes like shadows.

They would never return. As soon as we saw the danger there for all the Jewish people, we warned many of them. I remember that Father and I went to Dr. Hamstra, one of our friends.

Just imagine that Mr. van Hamstra will be brought to a concentration camp, his wife to another concentration camp, his children will be killed. And that moment I took a decision. That was the beginning. There were many underground workers in Holland. Then we had many secrets. The good thing was that there were two entrances in the shop and in the alley, and we always looked very carefully who came. Some of the neighbors did not know, and it was better that they didn't know it. We did not talk about the Jews outright. We were a small family of three people, my father with two of his spinned daughters.

We just played the game as if that was the whole family. The work became so important that they needed a hiding place in case the Gestapo came for an inspection. The secret room was made in my bedroom. There was a famous architect who made these hiding places, and that was his part in the underground work.

Very important. I will never forget that he came upstairs and through the whole house to see where it was possible. And because this room was the highest of the house, he chose this, my tiny bedroom. The wall was made of brick, and that was the secret of the hiding place. When they started to look at it, it was solid, so they didn't find it. They had to creep so into this opening of the hiding place.

And then when they were in it, they could close the backside of the closet so that you couldn't see there was an opening. A non-privileged Jew will be unable to show his face in the Netherlands. At the same time as ex-commissioner, I will publish a decree that the possession of... Each day, more and more Jews were heard together on city street corners.

Families, young and old, there were no exceptions. Publicly, the Nazis succeeded in their attempt to camouflage the destiny of the deportees. They spoke of labor service in Germany. Our hearts were stone, seeing them hauled away like sheep, calm, dignified, almost hopeful. The human imagination could not accept the whispered rumors as to what awaited them. And you're listening to Corrie Tamboom, and what a story she is telling. I am old, but I know about prison, she started.

I know what it is like to be behind a door that only opens from the outside. And those last words were chilling. The human imagination could not accept the whispered rumors as to what awaited. When we come back, more of Corrie Tamboom's story, here on Our American Stories. And we continue with the story of Corrie Tamboom.

Let's pick up where we last left off. For two eventful years, the Lord allowed us to help hundreds of people escape the Nazi death camps, until February 28, 1944. Where are the Jews? What Jews? Ah!

Lord Jesus, help me! There on the street, I remembered the dream that the Lord gave to me at the beginning of the war. As I watched a kind of odd, old, fun wagon, old-fashioned and out of place in the middle of a city, came lumbering across the square, forged by four enormous black horses. To my surprise, I saw that I myself was sitting in the wagon. And Father, too. And Betsy. There were many others.

Some strangers, some friends. I recognized Pickwick and Toge, Willem and young Peter. All together, we were slowly being drawn across the square behind those horses. We couldn't get off the wagon. That was the terrible thing. It was taken us away, far away. But we didn't want to go. I did not know then what that dream meant.

Later, I understood. In this house, in 1844, there happened something. A minister said to my grandfather, pray for the peace of Jerusalem that is written in the Bible. My grandfather had never thought about it, but he saw that it was a commandment in the Bible.

And he invited his friends. And they came in this house every week and had a prayer meeting for the Jews. A hundred years later, in this very same house, Grandfather's son, four of his grandchildren and a great-grandson were arrested because they had saved Jewish people.

That was a divine, but not to understand, answer or prayer for Jerusalem. I remember that when Father was warned by his friends and they said, don't have always Jewish people in that house. It will end up in prison for you. And Father said, I'm too old for prison life.

But when that will happen, it will be an honor to me to give my life for God's ancient people. And that's what really happened. After ten days already, Father died in prison. For the first week, they put me in a cell with four or five others. I was very ill with pleurisy. The prison doctor said I would have tuberculosis, so I was sent to solitary confinement.

They did not want me to infect the others. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I was really alone. And I knew my life was completely in the hands of the enemy. They could kill me or torture me or just forget me altogether.

There was no one to know. At night, the sounds of distant bombs penetrated the thick walls and the muffled cries of people being tortured by the Gestapo. That was a little bit of hell.

I tried singing, but the guards pounded on the door for silence. They threatened to take me to the dark cell. In the dark cell, you had to stand in water.

Time became a very thick thing to have to wade through. There was a possibility each moment of the day and night that it would come for me. Whenever I heard footsteps outside my cell, I would ask myself, do they come to torture me, to kill me? Once, I stood with my back against the wall of my cell, with my hands spread out as if I would push it away. And I was that scared. And then I said, Lord, I am not strong enough to stand all this.

My faith is not strong enough. Then I saw an ant I had seen for days roaming over the floor. I just mopped the floor with a wet rag. The moment the ant felt the water on the stones, he ran to a little hole in the wall. He did not stop to look at the wet rag or his weak feet.

He went straight to his hiding place. Corey, don't look at your faith. It is weak like the tiny feet of that ant.

Don't think of the possibilities of those cruel people. I am your hiding place. And you can come to me like that ant disappeared into the hole in the wall. And for the first time, there came a real peace in my heart.

I was 53 years old then. I had always known about Jesus. And now, in solitary confinement, I had started to really know that His light is stronger than the deepest darkness. I have an idea that later, when we are in heaven, we will look back and understand many things that are now not to understand by us.

I can tell you about thousand answered prayers, but I also can tell you about many unanswered prayers. There was a prayer that I said every day when I was in prison in Holland, Oh God, let they never bring us to a concentration camp. We had heard such terrible rumors about what happened there.

But God had other plans. This is Betsy, my sister. She was in another part of that same prison, but I could never see her. Months later, we were transferred to a bigger prison in Holland. And then after that, we were packed like cattle in boxcars and taken deep into Germany. The Nazis were emptying jails everywhere.

Men prisoners were sent one way, women prisoners another. And you're listening to Corey 10 Boom, and it doesn't get more real than this, the confrontation with evil. And my goodness face to face is Corey and so many of the people of Western Europe and so many allied Americans and Canadians and Australians taking the fight to the Nazi menace. Lord, I'm not strong enough to stand all of this.

My faith is not strong enough. And my goodness, the Nazi menace. Well, it put faith to the test throughout Western Europe. I'm not sure Western Europe has recovered, actually. And then that prayer Oh God, may they never take us to a concentration camp.

But God had other plans. He said, when we come back more of the remarkable story of Corey 10 Boom here on our American stories. And we continue with our American stories.

Let's return to Corey 10 Boom. My sister and I, along with thousands of others, were marched into Ravensbrück. It was called a work camp. When we first came into the camp, they took everything away. It was a great miracle that I had my Bible. I hid it under my dress on my back. And I prayed, Lord, will you send your angels to surround me? But then I thought angels are spirits and you can look through spirits and I don't want these people to see me. So I prayed in my great fear. God, let your angels not be transparent today. They must cover me.

And God did it. The woman in front of me was searched and then my sister was directly behind me. But no one even noticed I was there. The barracks they put us in were built for 200 women. They packed 700 of us inside. The bunks were built up all the way to the ceiling.

We each had sleeping space a few inches wide. If they had all been working, we would have had eight toilets for the entire barracks. It was so dangerous in Ravensbrück to use the word of God. If the guards caught you, you were killed in a very cruel way. But they never knew that I had a Bible meeting twice every day in barracks 28. The room was filthy, crawling with fleas and lice. That's why the guards never came in past the door. So you see that the Lord used angels and lice to leave us our Bible.

I don't mean to say it was pleasant. There were moments of great despair. I remember one night I was outside the barracks and there were beautiful stars. And I said, Lord, you guide all these stars. You have not forgotten one of them, but you have forgotten Betsy and me. And then Betsy said, no, he does not forget us. I know that from the Bible, the Lord Jesus has said, I am with you always until the end of the world.

And Corrie, he is here with us. And we must believe that. This not feeling, but believing. And I slowly learned not to trust in myself or my faith or my feelings or trusting in, but trusting in him. Feelings come and feelings go.

They are deceitful. In all that hell around us, the promises from the Bible kept us sane. Ravensbrück was a work camp. It was the enemy's plan to work us to death. Before the war would end, 96,000 women would die here, including dear Betsy, who became an old woman before my eyes and slowly starved. The smoke from the crematorium was like a black haze over the camp. Every day 700 women died or were killed.

It was the only way to solve the problem. There were far too many of us. So I looked death in the eyes, not once, but often, and I found that the Lord was still my hiding place. Betsy was now number 66729. I was 66730. It was as if we had ceased to be human.

barracks 28 was built to house 400 women. There were now 1400 of us. Our small Bible became the center of an ever widening circle of help and hope. Like waves clustered around a blazing fire, we held out our hearts to its warmth and light.

I had believed the Bible always, but reading it now had nothing to do with belief. It was simply a description of the way things were, of hell and heaven, of how men act and how God acts. Betsy seemed mercifully oblivious to pain and despair. Watching her, I often wondered if God had put a hedge about her, as he had about Job so long ago. The cold was affecting Betsy's legs.

They were like wood. She weighed no more than a child. She could no longer stamp her feet as the rest of us did to keep her blood flowing. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsy.

Betsy was gone. There was no cold now, no hunger, nothing between Betsy and the face of Jesus. And there I saw already a little bit God's side. When the Lord takes us very close to himself, we see the things more or less from God's point of view. In some way we are protected, but it is not in the Bible that the Lord will tell that you have no cross to bear. Just contrary, the Bible says take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus. And to follow the Lord Jesus, that means to share in his suffering. But he gives grace to do it. And he even gives joy.

There is almost a joyful side in suffering for the Lord, especially in suffering for the Lord, because we know that Jesus has suffered so much for us at the cross. Shamboom, Cornelia. Three mornings after Betsy's death, I was summoned to the administration barracks. Years later, it was learned my release came through a clerical error, what some might call a mistake. Not long after I was set free, women my age were put to death.

It was in a meeting in Germany. I saw suddenly in the midst of the crowd a woman who wouldn't look into my eyes. And suddenly I saw that woman that is the nurse who has been cruel to Betsy when she was dying. And there came hatred in my heart. But I knew when I do not forgive those who have sinned against me, then the Heavenly Father will not forgive me.

So I said, Lord, I cannot forgive her. But Lord, I claim Roman 5-5, the love of God is shed abroad into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has given to us. And I said, thank you, Jesus, that you have brought into my heart God's love through the Holy Spirit. And thank you, Father, that your love in me is stronger than my hatred. And the same moment I could love that nurse. And I was used afterwards to bring her to a decision for Jesus Christ. Now just imagine, I, who had hated her, but when the Lord cleanses you with His blood, He does such a good job that He can fill your heart with His love.

Yes, I am Corrie Tamboom. And I have told to anyone who would listen, no pit is so deep that He is not deeper still. With Jesus, even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best He had to be. I promised my sister I would tell it.

And I tell you. And a special thanks to Greg Hengler. Great job on the production, as always. We'd like to thank Vision Video for contributing the footage for this story. On her 91st birthday, April 15th, 1983, Corrie Tamboom passed away and was buried in Santa Ana, California. On her death, it was noted that in Jewish tradition, it is only the very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday.

The story of Corrie Tamboom, here on Our American Stories. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and Affiliates. National Annual Average Insurance Savings by New Customer Survey to Save the Progressive in 2020. Potential savings will vary.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 13:26:21 / 2023-02-17 13:37:07 / 11

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