NASHVILLE, TN - Corrie ten Boom and her family risked everything to hide Jewish refugees from the Nazis in World War II. Their heroic story is told in her 1971 autobiography, "The Hiding Place." This week that true story is coming to the big screen.
Courage is the best word to describe the story of Corrie ten Boom and her humble, Dutch family of Christian watchmakers who risked everything and endured unspeakable evil to rescue hundreds of Jewish neighbors from Nazis during World War II.
A.S. "Pete" Peterson was the writer of the stage play and producer of the film, "The Hiding Place." His play is based on Corrie ten Boom's book of the same name.
"I went into it with a lot of fear and trembling, as soon as I understood the seriousness of it," Peterson said.
"So, my wife and I jumped on a plane and started to Amsterdam, visited The Hiding Place in Harlem. We crawled into the hidden compartment ourselves. Spent several days getting to know the folks there."
"And then we drove across Germany to visit Ravensbrook Concentration Camp, where Corrie and Betsie ended up. That was just an unbelievable experience. Until you've been in a concentration camp, you can't even fathom how big the evil was. To stand in the place where prisoners were executed. To walk into the gas chamber, and then to literally stand in front of the over where Betsie ten Boom was disposed of. That's a process of research that fundamentally changed my relationship to the story," he said.
"And the one thing that was really clear to me is that it is easy to think 'The Hiding Place' is about Corrie ten Boom, and it is, obviously. But Betsie ten Boom is the real hero of this story in a lot of ways. And there is a sense in which I came away thinking Corrie's intent with telling the story in some ways was to honor the beautiful person that her sister was. And so I wanted to be intent that we really told that story as well."
Peterson agrees that Betsie gets overlooked in history.
"I think she does. Lots of people know the name Corrie ten Boom, but Betsie ten Boom is not talked about as much. And Betsie is one of the most remarkable people I have ever encountered," Peterson said. "Her ability to be grateful in the midst of the worst circumstances is something that I struggle to do, even when I am just having a bad Monday."
That's just one reason the creators of this new version of "The Hiding Place" felt it was important to take this story from stage to screen.
Nan Arnold Gurley, who plays the part of Corrie in the movie, told us, "Because it will reach so many, more people will get to know this story. The current generation doesn't know a lot about Corrie... the names of the people in that cloud of witnesses."