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History Book: Corrie ten Boom’s faith and courage


WORLD Radio - History Book: Corrie ten Boom’s faith and courage

Plus, the death of an abolitionist Quaker and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in North Korea

Corrie ten Boom Courtesy of Corrie ten Boom Archive/Dallas Baptist University

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, February 26th, 2024. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

JENNY ROUGH, HOST: And I’m Jenny Rough. Up next, the WORLD History Book. 80 years ago, Corrie ten Boom is arrested for harboring Jews during World War 2. And, the New York Philharmonic performs in North Korea.

EICHER: But we begin with the life and death of Quaker leader Elias Hicks. Here’s WORLD Radio Reporter Emma Perley:

EMMA PERLEY: On February 27th, 1830, Elias Hicks lay on his deathbed in Long Island, New York. At 81 years old, his long life has been marked by charismatic ministry, public charity, and theological debate.

Hicks became a Quaker in his early twenties and began preaching throughout the Northeast. His strong voice and passion attracted hundreds, sometimes even thousands.

Hicks was strongly opposed to slavery, and became a leading figure for abolition. Voice actor Jon Gauger reads from his book, Observations on the Slavery of Africans and Their Descendants

JON GAUGER: We have planted slavery in the rank soil of sordid avarice: and the product has been misery in the extreme.

While Hicks was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in New York, his theology differed from traditional orthodoxy. He believed that the presence of God inside a person’s heart was the source of truth—Hicks considered the Bible secondary to understanding the gospel.

In 1825 Hicks preached at a Quaker meeting house.

GAUGER: Our evidence is internal, from the communications of God himself. Nothing can convict me of sin but the evidence in my own heart.

Hicks rejected the idea of original sin, the Trinity, and the existence of Satan on earth. His followers soon became known as Hicksites, and ultimately split from Orthodox Quakers.

In 1830 two strokes left him paralyzed. As he lay dying, he made sure the blanket that would cover him upon his passing was not made by slaves.

Next, we travel to the thick of World War 2, 1944. A Dutch woman named Corrie ten Boom has spent the last four years helping Jewish refugees flee from Nazi persecution in the Netherlands.

Here is Corrie in an interview with evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman. Audio courtesy of Biblical Restoration Ministries.

CORRIE TEN BOOM: We knew that whatever happens, those who love God, all things work for the best. And so there was not a real fear, we were not afraid.

But on February 28th, the Gestapo arrest Corrie and her family after discovering that they are hiding Jews in a secret room in their house.

TEN BOOM: We were all brought into a prison. And there I was thrown into solitary confinement. But you know, I was not really alone. For Jesus was with me.

Corrie and her sister Betsie are sent to several concentration camps. Eventually, they arrive at Germany’s Ravensbrück—a women's labor camp.

TEN BOOM: I will never forget, when we came into Ravensbrück, that was a camp that was far too full. We had to live with 700 in a room that was built for 200… I said, “Oh Betsie, it’s full of fleas and lice.” And Betsie said, “Corrie, we must thank God for everything.” I said “I cannot thank God for fleas.” And she said, “We have to.”

Corrie and her sister hope in God in the midst of the filth. They start Bible studies with other women using a smuggled-in Bible after hard days of work. Many women convert to Christianity from the sisters’ efforts. Betsie eventually becomes sick and dies in the camp. Corrie is released only twelve days later.

TEN BOOM: When I was free, I knew there was work to do. Betsie had said, “We must go all over the world, because we have a message from experience, that the light of Jesus Christ is stronger than the deepest darkness.”

The ten Boom family saved nearly 800 Jews during the Holocaust. And Corrie continued to share the gospel and help persecuted Jews after the war. In 1971, she released her autobiography The Hiding Place about her experience in the concentration camps.

TEN BOOM: I saw there the devil. He was stronger, much stronger than I. But there was Jesus. And Jesus is stronger, much stronger than the devil. And together with Jesus, I am stronger, much stronger than the devil.

We end today in Pyongyang, North Korea for a concert.


On February 26th, 2008, the New York Philharmonic performs pieces by Richard Wagner, Leonard Bernstein, and even plays “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the North Korean audience.


Six months before, North Korean Ministry of Culture representative Song Sok-hwan invited the orchestra to perform in the nation’s capital. Composer Lorin Maazel addresses the audience of both foreigners and North Koreans in the Pyongyang Grand Theatre:

LORIN MAAZEL: Ladies and gentlemen, my colleagues at the New York Philharmonic and I are very pleased to play in this fine hall today.


The North Korean government allows unusually high access to the country, including internet access for foreign journalists. Maazel speaks to interviewers shortly before the performance. Audio here from AP News.

MAAZEL: If our concert here is well received, people feel that we want to make music for them and are thrilled that they would want us to play for them, then we will have made, I think, whatever contribution we can make to bringing our people’s trust one tiny step closer.

Song Sok-hwan said he hoped the event would invite cultural exchange between America and North Korea. And while the performance did not lead to any diplomatic improvements, it brought powerful music to an otherwise isolated people.


That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Emma Perley.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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