Summary: Chapter 11: The Lieutenant

Corrie attends her first hearing. Lieutenant Rahms treats her kindly and offers her a chair and warming fire but then says that she must confess everything. When Corrie defends her treatment of the disabled, he dismisses her. The next day, Rahms returns, and he and Corrie sit outdoors. He asks about her prior reference to the teachings of the Bible. When Corrie explains that there is a Light that permeates all darkness, Lieutenant Rahms admits that he lives imprisoned in darkness. They meet four times. In these meetings, Lieutenant Rahms listens to Corrie talk about her childhood and her family. He feels distressed that her father died in prison and admits that he lacks authority to help in any way. 

As Corrie walks back to her cell, she sees inside Betsie’s cell, noting that Betsie set it up to feel more like a home. Lieutenant Rahms takes Corrie to a room for the reading of Father’s will. There, she feels overjoyed to find Willem and his wife, Tine; Nollie and her husband, Flip; and Betsie. Nollie passes Corrie a tiny Bible in a pouch. A notary reads Father’s will, and the family acknowledges Lieutenant Rahms’s kindness.

Analysis: Chapter 11: The Lieutenant

In prison, Corrie is part of the conflict between humane and inhumane behavior, sometimes in the same person. She notes the odd contrasts between the guards’ systematic cruelty and occasional human kindness. The many small humiliations that the guards inflict on prisoners, such as not being allowed to walk on the corridor mats, are designed to dehumanize the prisoners in the guards’ and their own eyes. Corrie points out the illogic of taunting a prisoner for lying down when there is nothing for her to do if she gets up. The jeers, like the enforced silence, have no rational justification but are simply a form of punishment carried out willingly by inhumane guards. Yet the beautiful prison matron who terrifies Corrie with her silent commands actually improves Corrie’s situation slightly, providing sheets and adequately frequent showers. Taking away the cracker box yet letting Corrie have the crackers suggests that perhaps the matron is looking for loopholes that will allow her to be less cruel to the prisoners. Yet she remains at her post of warden and upholds the Nazi regime. Corrie cannot know the matron’s motive: is she rigidly following some regulation, or does she want to help? The reader cannot know either, but must draw conclusions from the details available.

Like the matron, Lieutenant Rahms presents a confusing mixture of kindness and cruelty. His interest in hearing Corrie talk about God indicates that he himself is confused and troubled. In another contradiction Rahms, a Gestapo officer willing to interrogate a sick middle-aged woman, diligently complies with the Dutch law requiring her to be present at the reading of her Father’s will and grants the family a few moments to share news and embraces, clearly an act of generosity that was not required of him. The meeting in Rahms’s office, however, is only a temporary respite as Corrie’s story moves into increasingly dark and inhumane places.