Saturday, July 26, 2008

Heavy Hearts

Day 137
This was my third trip to Amsterdam and I had already seen just about everything this city has to offer. If this was my first trip I would visit the Reich's Museum, Anne Frank´s House, the Sex Museum, and the Resistance Museum. My goal this time around was to visit the two places I had missed on my prior trips. To do this I had to head one town over to a place called Haarlem.

Haarlem is a cute little town with nice canals, winding streets and small markets. One of the most important things to visit here is the Corrie Ten Boom House. Corrie, along with her family, was a devout Christian. When WWII broke out they were very much against the deportation of Jews and wanted to do whatever they could to help, no matter what the cost. Corrie, who was in her late 40´s when the war started, lived with her slightly older sister and her aging parents. Together they went into action to save as many lives as possible. They outfitted Corries room with a hidden chamber where up to 8 people could hide at a time. It wasn´t large, so everyone had to stand. The Ten Booms had about 4 Jews who lived with them, only going into the hiding place when necessary. They also used their house as a stop on the underground railway. At any given time they had 6 - 8 Jews living with them. With this process they managed to save the lives of about 800 people. It´s hard to say the exact number though, no records were kept.

In 1944 the family was betrayed for money. Corrie, her sister and her parents were taken to jail. Both of her parents were pushing 90 at this point and perished in jail. Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were sent to Ravensbruck, a womans camp near Berlin. At this time they had 8 Jews living with them. They had all crawled into the hiding space when the Nazi´s came to the house. They were so well hidden that they were not found. The reason the Ten Booms were arrested was because extra ration cards were found hidden in a staircase. The 8 people were forced to stay standing in the hiding spot for 2 days before a Dutch police officer who was part of the underground railway was able to rescue them. They all survived. Betsy died just sort of liberation. Before she died she told Corrie that she had a dream that Corrie would survive and that she needed to travel the world teaching peace and understanding. Shortly after Betsy had passed Corrie was released. This didn´t ever happen. Just a few days later every woman over 50, this would have included Corrie at this point, in Ravensbruck was killed.

After the war Corrie fulfilled her sisters dream. She spent 30 years traveling the world teaching peace. She even started a few institutions that were meant to rehabilitate people who were racists. At different times she ran into both the man who had betrayed her family and a guard from Ravensbruck. She was able to shake both of their hands and forgave them. She died in 1983 at the age of 91 in the US. Corrie Ten Boom was truly an amazing woman.

After my tour I headed back to Amsterdam. I stopped at the hostel for lunch and was about to head to my next destination, the Heineken Experience. Much to my dismay it was closed for renovation until October! How unfair! Instead I joined an American watching the Big Lombowski in the tv room for the afternoon. When this was over I took a brief nap and then got my act together. I wasn´t really sure what I was getting it together for though.

I went to the hostel bar to update my journal. After a bit I managed to meet some nice British girls and an Aussie. There was a Welsh stag party going on as well. I think they were on just about everything Amsterdam had to offer, legal and illegal. A couple of them were a bit more sober though, and they were pretty funny. It was pouring rain and thundering and lightning that night so I decided to just stay at the hostel. Eventually the other people wandered out and I went to sleep.

No comments: