The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8: Storm Clouds Gather


As the underground operations at the Beje continue to expand, Corries worries about the increasing chance of detection. Mealtimes are especially dangerous because the dining room is five steps above street level and there are so many people staying at the moment that chairs are crammed in diagonally. This is the fear in Corrie’s mind when she sees a woman lingering at the window, but it is only Katrien come from Nollie’s house. Pale and trembling, Katrien relates how that morning Gestapo agents came to the van Woerden household and asked Nollie if Annaliese was a Jew. Nollie tells the truth and the agents take Annaliese to a holding area in Amsterdam, while Nollie is taken to prison in Haarlem. Corrie feels angry with Nollie for not concealing the truth. The jail cleaning woman, Mietje, brings word from Nollie who is well and singing hymns. Moreover, Nollie believes that God will protect Annaliese because Nollie did not lie. One week later, Pickwick tells Corrie that forty Jews were rescued and Annaliese was one of them. Meanwhile, Nollie is sent to federal prison in Amsterdam.

In order to help Nollie, Pickwick advises Corrie to visit the German doctor in charge of the prison in Amsterdam who is reputedly a humane man. Waiting in the doctor’s foyer, Corrie wonders how to reach this man. She thinks of the book the Beje group has been reading, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and decides to find where the doctor’s interests lie. Upon seeing his three Dobermans, she guesses correctly that dogs are the man’s hobby. Corrie begins a conversation about how much she loves dogs and the man seems pleased. He promises to do what he can. Two weeks later, Corrie returns to be told that these things take time. In October, a pale but cheerful Nollie is released upon the doctor’s advice that her dangerously low blood pressure could leave her a burden to the state.

In September, the family learns from Nils, an underground worker, that Katrien reached safety. The Beje members have another scare when a man unexpectedly begins washing the windows outside the dining room. Eusie’s brilliant idea to sing happy birthday diverts the man’s suspicions about a large group. Corrie shews the window washer away, but not before inviting him to join in the pretend festivities. They wonder if the man was spying and fret because this is only one of the unknowns they face daily.

As tension mounts, the household begins waking each other up in the middle of the night to practice answering Gestapo questions without giving away the truth. Corrie finds this exercise especially difficult, but gets better at answering that there are no Jews in the house.

Willem comes more often to Haarlem because of underground work, with more anxiety each time. Soldiers have come to his nursing home twice, taking a ninety-one year old, blind Jewish woman. Although Willem’s position as a minister gives him some protection, he and his family are watched carefully. To make regular visits to Haarlem more official, Willem begins a Wednesday morning prayer meeting in the Beje. However, news of the meetings grows and dozens of people show up looking for comfort and counsel. The family hopes that the flocks of people will disguise the operation rather than endanger it further.

After curfew one night, the family, the seven “permanent” guests and two others are disturbed by an unexpected chime of the doorbell. It is Otto Altschuler whom Father fired a few years previously coming to gloat over the German occupation of Holland. Corrie worries that Otto hears the sound of the warning buzzer and desperately tries to distract him. She asks to go to the dining room first to prepare the family for the surprise of seeing him. Fortunately, only Father and Betsie remain at the table and everything appears normal. They even remember to place the special “Alpina” sign in the window to send the message that entry is not safe at the moment. In addition to pretending he is an officer, Otto treats the family contemptuously, especially Father. The only slip is giving Otto real tea, when no one in Holland has any. Luckily, Otto leaves soon.

During Christmas and Hanukkah that year, the residents of the Beje celebrate with singing, which rings beautifully and hauntingly through the house. The festivities are not without cost, and one night a neighbor, Mrs. Beukers, tells them that their singing can be heard through the streets. It seems that most of Haarlem knows about the ten Boom’s activities, including the chief of police. In January, Corrie receives a summons from the police telling her to come in. With a prison bag in tow, Corrie does not know whether this means her arrest. However, the chief sympathizes with her efforts and asks if she knows someone who can have a Gestapo spy in the department killed. When she replies that her calling is to save lives rather than end them, the chief admits that it was wrong to ask her. When Corrie returns home, she conceals the last part of the meeting, because it would hurt Father and Betsie too much to know what they had been asked to do.

The meeting with the chief gives the family more cause for anxiety, despite the knowledge of having support in high positions. The ten Booms wonder if it would be safer to stop work at the Beje and find another location. Already their apprentice boy, Jop, was seized while trying to warn a nearby underground home about a raid. Unfortunately, the raid has happened and the Gestapo trap Jop once he enters the house. Despite this new misfortune, the ten Booms decide to continue their work, praying for guidance the whole time.


Once again, the war divides the ten Boom family. Nollie’s insistence that God rewards individuals who tell the truth clashes with Corrie’s belief that God permits lying for very good causes. The war brought many disagreements to previous united families. Fortunately, fate intervenes and protects Annaliese. The mood is fraught with tension, between individuals and in the world more broadly. Corrie speaks with a sense of urgency, knowing that any moment could be her last. Through these events, Corrie’s narrative is building to its climax, which will occur in the following chapter.

Although Corrie never loses the sense of a physical location for her narrative, she focuses more and more on a human landscape. The pain and suffering of individuals become the background in Haarlem. She increases imagery of anxiety, which builds during scenes like the hiding place drills. Additionally, her nephew Kik adds to the fever pitch when he drills Corrie in the middle of the night. These mock interrogations increase suspense and follow the contour of the rising action.

Willem’s prayer meeting signifies a slight return to normalcy in the Beje, which has known much upheaval in recent months. Prayer during these difficult times sustains the frightened citizens of Haarlem. Although the meeting endangers the Beje operation with the presence of more people in the house, the reinvigoration of religious practice helps everyone there.

Otto’s visit marks a miniature climax in this chapter. Although Otto lies about his position in the army, his arrogance brings painful memories of Holland’s defeat to the ten Booms. Otto symbolizes the effect of Nationalist attitudes on young men and women. Moreover, Otto’s visit foreshadows the collapse of the Beje operation.

During Christmas and Hanukah, the Beje residents, including the six Jews, celebrate their religious holiday despite the danger. Their faith is so strong that the threat of detection proves less powerful than their devotion to God. However, the neighbor’s remarks about the sound introduce a renewed anxiety. Even the police know the supposedly secret Beje activities. When the chief asks Corrie to kill, she responds pivotally for her character. Corrie’s reply that her calling is to save lives symbolizes her purpose in the narrative. Despite temptations and dangers, Corrie remains true to her core beliefs.