The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6: The Secret Room


On Sunday, May 10th 1942, Peter plays “Wilhelmus,” the national anthem in church, although an edict was passed outlawing it. In a packed church, an effect of the increasingly harsh occupation, everyone proudly sings along to the anthem. However, Corrie, along with an elderly Austrian Jewish woman named Katrien, posing as Nollie’s housemaid and a beautiful young Jewish woman named Annaliese, fear the Gestapo’s reaction. In a few days, their fears are justified when the Gestapo arrest Peter and take him to an Amsterdam prison.

Two weeks later, the ten Booms receive another Jewish asylum-seeker named Mrs. Kleermaker, whose husband had been arrested and son gone into hiding. Two nights later just before the 8:00 PM curfew, an elderly couple comes with a similar story. In a meeting, the six gather to discuss the danger of being located half a block from the police station. Corrie decides to consult Willem about procuring places in the country for the three Jews staying in the Beje. A tense and careworn Willem explains that hiding people is becoming increasingly difficult due to food shortages and the lack of ration cards, which can’t be counterfeited. When Corrie asks Willem if he could procure stolen cards, he loses his temper, saying that he is carefully watched and she needs to develop her own sources.

Peddling home and wondering about sources, Corrie thinks of Fred Koornstra, who used to read the Beje’s electric meter and whose daughter Corrie taught in her church group for mentally handicapped children. Now that Fred works at the Food office, Corrie visits his home in pursuit of ration cards. After praying silently, Corrie takes a chance and tells Fred that she needs one hundred cards for the Jews they are hiding in their home. After hesitating, Fred agrees to stage a robbery and appears a week later with bruises and cuts and the precious ration cards. Moreover, Fred plans to come each month, disguised as the meter man, in order to deliver more coupons and stow them in another tiny hiding place. During one such delivery, a police officer arrives but everyone remains calm and carry on as usual. After this process, Corrie and the others work out a system for other possible problems, including a mother who goes into labor in the Beje or someone who dies. Corrie realizes that she has a network available in the people of Haarlem, and relies on praying to know whom to trust.

One evening, Kik arrives to fetch Corrie to a meeting of Underground workers, where she sees Pickwick and meets one of the many anonymous Mr. Smits. The fellow workers take part in espionage with England and provide escape routes for downed Allied planes. They all applaud Corrie for her work. Then Pickwick introduces her to another Mr. Smit who happens to be a famous architect. He will come to the Beje to build a secret room.

After two months in prison, a pale and thin Peter is released and ready to take up resistance work again. Soon after, Mr. Smit arrives to find a space for the secret room. Father is confused about the last name Smit, while Corrie guides him through the house. They choose the very top of the house in Corrie’s bedroom, because people will have time to assemble during the search. During the next few days, workers sneak in supplies and build a brick wall, which is then painted and covered with bookshelves. Corrie inspects the wall, which has been water-stained and aged. Smit assures her that the Gestapo will never find it.


Chapter six involves another learning process for Corrie, by which she gains the skills to navigate the Dutch Underground movement. Corrie matures and grows, although she credits God for giving her the ability to be clever and innovative. When Willem explains that developing her own sources will increase the safety and longevity of her operation, Corrie begins immediately. Corrie writes with a tense and excited tone, which conveys the sense of her work’s danger and importance.

During this tense time, Peter’s act of rebellion in church symbolizes the atmosphere in Holland in 1942. The atmosphere in Haarlem is a combination of loyalty to Holland and the queen and National Socialist Bond members who side with Germany. This split manifests itself in the divided reactions to Peter’s playing the Wilhelmus. Many people in the congregation sing along proudly, but at least one person must have informed the Gestapo. In addition, NSBers receive better food, jobs and housing, driving a wedge between loyalty groups in Haarlem.

Even within the ten Boom family, the war causes divisions and arguments. Although Willem later softens his tone of voice, he grows angry at Corrie for asking too much of him. Additionally, many in the family support Peter’s actions, while Corrie finds it foolish and vain on Peter’s part. Although the ten Boom family believes the same things, the war begins to cause tensions, which represent the larger problems in their country.

During Corrie’s growth process as an Underground worker, she discovers an inner strength, which surprises her. When she tells Fred Koornstra the truth about her secret operations and asks for one hundred ration cards, she taps into a new boldness. During Corrie’s early experiences helping Jews escape to safety, Corrie gains strength and courage without realizing it. As a character, she has grown into the role of protagonist. At the beginning of the narrative, Corrie was shy, nervous, and awkward, saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Now Corrie is bold and unhesitating in the face of scrutiny and surveillance by the German occupying forces in Haarlem.

The Beje receives its defining feature, when Corrie goes to the Underground meeting with Pickwick. At the gathering, the workers validate Corrie as a key player in the Dutch Underground. She also learns that “Mr. Smit” represents every anonymous resistance worker. The particular Mr. Smit who builds the secret room, provides the eponymous hiding place for the biography. However, the physical location presents only one side of the hiding place’s meaning. Corrie later learns the necessity of having an emotional hiding place.