Heroes are not born with super human powers or created from alien DNA, but are everyday people who rise to the occasion when needed. Ben Levy, a passenger of Asiana Flight 214, during an interview with Anna Werner stated, “Heroism is not one person saving the world. I think it is about every single action you can take together, combined to create this real heroic event . . . .” The Ten Booms as a Family exemplified Mr. Levy’s definition of heroism.
When Hitler’s troops invaded the Netherlands, the Ten Boom’s door opened to anyone and everyone in need of shelter. As the Reich began herding Jews and dissenters, the Ten Boom family took them in and hid them in a room from the Gestapo and the Dutch equivalent. They faced death and danger heroically in order to do the right thing. One day a minister came to their home with a Jewish baby in his arms refusing to shelter the child. Casper ten Boom, the head of the house, reached out for the child and took him into his arms, saying that he would hide him. The minister exclaimed that Casper would be executed for sheltering the child if caught. Casper humbly answered, “It would be an honor to lose my life protecting one of God’s own.”
The Ten Booms were betrayed by a Dutch informant and imprisoned in Scheveningen prison. At the time of the Ten Boom’s capture, there were six people hiding in the secret room. The Gestapo never discovered those concealed and two days later they escaped with the help of the Dutch Underground. Although the six were never discovered, the Gestapo did find and confiscate ration cards and a radio. The Ten Booms were charged with political crimes against the State and were imprisoned in Scheveningen prison.
Casper ten Boom died 10 days after his imprisonment at Scheveningen prison. Shortly afterward, Corrie and Betsie were shipped off to Vught Political Concentration Camp and then to the infamous Ravensbrück Death Camp in Germany. Betsie died at Ravensbrück, but before she died, she told her sister, “There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still.”
Due to a clerical error, Corrie ten Boom was released from Ravensbrüch on December 28, 1944. One week later, all the women her age were led to the gas chamber. After the war, Corrie returned to the Netherlands to carry on the selfless work of her family. She established centers of rehabilitation for concentration camp survivors and for jobless Dutch who had collaborated with the Germans during the occupation..
We run to the theaters in mass to watch movies about larger than life fictional action heroes, yet we minimize the real life heroes in our midst. Real people, whose heroics surpass the fake magnificence of those portrayed on the big screen. We should be guiding our children toward the real heroes of history. These are the men and women we want to teach our children to emulate, men and women who placed their lives in danger for others: stories of Corrie ten Boom and Oskar Schindler, real flesh and blood heroes, who stood against the villainous injustices and monstrous persecutions of dictators, Kings, and governments. Some of our heroes have nurtured, hidden and cared for the weak and down trodden, while others have helped men, women and children escape to the safety of a new world.
The stories of these brave men and women can be found in such books as The Hiding Place and Schindler’s List . Some bibliographies are featured in Mark Klempner’s book, The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage published by The Pilgrim Press. http://www.hearthasreasons.com/index.php