The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place Summary and Analysis of Chapter 12: Vught


When the guards tell prisoners to prepare to evacuate, everyone hurriedly shoves belongings into pillowcases. However, they wait for several hours before anything happens. Corrie wishes that she could see the ants one more time, but realizes there is a message in this too. Corrie realizes that God provides a hiding place for his people during difficult times and this place is in Christ.

The guards march the prisoners into buses that take them to a freight yard. Everyone suspects an Ally invasion, hoping that they will not be transported to Germany. The guards are visibly tense, as prisoners are herded into a train. When Corrie sees Betsie, she plans to reach her by any means. Now in the dark and rain, Corrie pushes through the crowd to her sister. Once in the train, the sisters spend the hours waiting in the yard by crying together and catching up on news. These fourth months marks their first separation in fifty-three years. Betsie and Corrie talk about their cellmates and the ant friends.

In the early hours of morning, the train begins moving and everyone wonders if Germany is the destination. Finally, the prisoners realize that they are crossing the Moerdijk Bridge into Brabant, Holland. A wave of relief travels through the group and Corrie reminisces about Willem’s first sermon and her summer walks with Karel. When they arrive, the prisoners are marched mercilessly through the woods surrounded by floodlights and armed soldiers. Guards brutally beat women who fall behind or out of line, so Corrie supports her tired sister more firmly.

They are taken to barracks with long tables rather than beds, where they are forced to sit for hours on end without food or water. They are in Vught, which is a prison camp for political offenders built near a small village. Rather than camp proper, the new prisoners wait in quarantine. Idleness poses a problem, as do shrieking and belligerent guards. Punishments include half rations, additional or earlier roll calls, and bans on talking. The “General” silently terrifies the room into silence when she enters. They have been in quarantine for two weeks, when Betsie and Corrie among others are singled out during roll call. A food worker informs Corrie that her pink slip means release, lifting her hopes of freedom. At 9:00 AM, the sisters go to the administration barracks at 9am, where Corrie receives her receives her mother’s ring, her watch, and money back. Just as Corrie visualizes the train ride home, the man at the next counter orders her to return personal effects, dashing all her hopes. The guard tells Betsie and Corrie’s group that the barracks next door to theirs contains prisoners who do not cooperate with camp rules. Corrie sees a man leaving the punishment barracks on the verge of death and thinks of the train case, asking God to take the burden of this heavy knowledge of cruelty from her.

At the main camp, Corrie asks Betsie how long will they have to endure this place. Betsie tells her that it does not matter because they can use this time to share the gospel with prisoners and guards. Betsie excitedly tells her that if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love. A few days later the sisters receive work assignments: Betsie must sew uniforms because she is weak and Corrie goes to Phillips Factory to work on radios. In the hot July weather, Corrie approaches Phillips Factory, where several hundred men and women work at benches on various radio parts. Corrie has the boring job of measuring rods and arranging them by length. When the officer tells the prisoner foreman, Mr. Moorman, that quality control must increase he nods apologetically. When Moorman asks if rations could be increased, the soldier slips and reveals that soldiers on the front have half rations. However, he speedily retracts this statement. After the soldiers leave, everyone laughs before taking out knitting or beginning conversations. Everyone asks Corrie who she is and where she comes form before asking for news about the war. Mr. Moorman reminds the workers to meet the quota to avoid punishment. Mr. Moorman is kind and helpful, giving her a more difficult task of relay switches upon learning that she is a watchmaker. He also tells her to sabotage the wiring because German planes will receive these radios. Corrie later learns the Moorman was the headmaster of a Roman Catholic boys school and that his son was shot in Vught the day she arrived.

Corrie and Betsie eat slightly better and more food than at Scheveningen. During Corrie’s thirty free minutes after lunch, she takes naps as roll call is at 5:00 AM. At the end of the day, she and Betsie share news of couples getting engaged in the factory and people letting the sisters pray with them. During one such conversation, Betsie tells Corrie that a woman told her the name of their betrayer. Jan Vogels, the man from Ermelo asking for money for his wife turned the ten Booms into the Gestapo. Corrie’s hatred for this man results in sleepless nights and troubling thoughts. When Corrie asks Betsie if she is upset, Betsie tells her that she feels terrible for Vogels because he must suffer so. Corrie realizes that her hatred was a bad as murder and begs forgiveness. That night, Corrie sleeps well.

There are good parts of Vught, like the walk through the woods to the factory and companionship. However, Corrie feels the burden of other people’s suffering, especially that of women with husbands and sons in the men’s camp. She meets a pregnant woman and avid Communist, named Mrs. Floor, who sends food to her husband in the other camp. Corrie believes that they will be released on September 1st, but Betsie warns her not to get her hopes high. Rumors spread that a Dutch force is trying to retake Holland, making the guards increasingly tense and brutal. Mr. Floor is executed by firing squad a few days before his wife gives birth to a little girl who dies after a few hours. One day seven hundred male prisoners are executed, because the invading forces are coming closer. The next day, one thousand female prisoners are marched to a train and packed into cars, which take them across the border into Germany.


In chapter twelve, the image of the hiding place recurs during Corrie’s final hours in Scheveningen. When the ants do not reappear, Corrie realizes that God provides a safe place for people to hide. This emotional hiding place sustains Corrie in the following weeks in Vught. In addition, Corrie feels grateful and rejuvenated because of her reunion with Betsie. Corrie’s narrative tone varies in this chapter, in which she experiences better and worse times than at Scheveningen. While Corrie remained in solitary confinement, there was no variation to her days. At Vught, Corrie finds work that is almost intellectually satisfying and companionship with Betsie.

Vught is a concentration camp in Holland, close to a pleasant village. Although the camp portion comprises bleak barracks, barbed wire fences, cement and armed guards, the surrounding woods are beautiful. However, the proximity of the beautiful woods tantalizes Corrie with freedom, making her imprisonment all the more painful. Corrie finds enjoyment at Vught, where she spends some of the best moments since her arrest many months ago. At Vught, Corrie and Betsie do manageable workloads and time together. The worst burden at Vught is sharing others’ suffering. Corrie sees the National-Socialist war against everyone who is different when she meets Mrs. Floor who is a Communist.

When the inefficient bureaucracy at Vught causes a lot of mental torment for Betsie and Corrie. Corrie and Betsie feel the trauma of receiving discharge certificates without being released. The administration could have causes significant psychological damage with carelessness and inefficiency. Fortunately, Corrie rallies quickly and resigns herself to imprisonment. Betsie, however, seems to enjoy being at Vught, where she continues to minister to her neighbors. More importantly, Betsie teaches Corrie to forgive her greatest enemy, Jan Vogels who betrayed the ten Booms to the Gestapo. The recurring theme of betrayal and forgiveness reveals how important these concepts are to Corrie. She also learns why hating Jan Vogels makes her as guilty as he was for his actions.

At Phillips factory, Corrie completes work that is stimulating if less difficult than tinkering with watches. At Phillips, Corrie defies gender stereotypes by taking an interest in work that most people considered masculine. Mr. Moorman encourages Corrie, by respecting her mechanical ability. Moreover, his kindness and consideration makes the workers feel like humans rather than mindless animals. When Mr. Moorman tells the workers to sabotage the German plane radios, he imbues their work with meaning and purpose. One of the larger themes in “The Hiding Place” is the necessity for humans to have a purpose to their lives. By sabotaging the German radios, the workers are resisting the efforts of the enemy.

The tone of chapter twelve grows increasingly anxious as the war builds to a climax. Although it seems that Germany will surrender soon, Betsie and Corrie feel that their lives are more endangered with every passing day. The violence against male prisoners indicates that Germany does not want any remaining evidence of its activities, including human beings. At the close of the chapter, the sisters know that transportation to Germany likely means an extermination camp. However, Betsie remains strong in the face of death. She even plans to help her persecutors learn how to love rather than hate after the war.