Summary: Chapter 12: Vught

The prison is evacuated, and Corrie realizes Jesus is her true hiding place. The prisoners board seatless buses, and Corrie reunites with Betsie. The prisoners disembark in a wooded area, march a mile, and reach Vught, a camp built for political prisoners. Corrie, Betsie, and some others are then transferred to another camp, where they witness cruel torture in the bunkers. Corrie feels sickened by such treatment, but Betsie sees the opportunity to spread love. Betsie is assigned to sewing uniforms, while Corrie works in the Phillips factory making radios. When Corrie tells a benevolent foreman named Moorman that she’s a watchmaker, he assigns her to better work. Corrie and Betsie work eleven-hour days and reunite each evening. In the Philips factory, Moorman gives the workers breaks during which they sing and play games. The prisoners hear rumors that a Dutch brigade is coming from England to reclaim Holland, but when they hear explosions, they learn that it is German demolition, not emancipation. 

Soon, the prisoners are marched out of Vught and herded onto a train, packed eighty to a car. They gouge holes in the car walls to let in air, and they develop a system of lying down intertwined. The train heads to Germany, stopping and starting as it passes through hailstorms and machine gun fire.

Summary: Chapter 13: Ravensbruck

Corrie and Betsie spend four days on the train amid extreme stench and thirst. Once off the train, they move to Ravensbruck extermination camp. There, they go to a huge tent, full of lice. Later, SS guards chase them into the woods, where they sleep on the ground. After three days, Betsie becomes sick. Before they are searched, Corrie and Betsie hide the blue sweater, Bible, and vitamins behind a bench. Later, Corrie hides these items under her prison dress. Together, Corrie and Betsie share the horror of the camps and the light of Jesus. During Friday inspections, Corrie remembers Jesus dying naked on the cross. 

In October, 1,400 women move to tiers of flea-infested wooden platforms that were built to house only 400. Each day, Corrie and Betsie work eleven-hour shifts for Siemens outside the camp. Each night, they hold religious services in their barracks. Corrie and Betsie share their vitamins with other prisoners. In November, the prisoners receive coats, but Betsie weakens. When a guard mocks and hits Betsie, Corrie rushes at him. Betsie stops her and reminds her to only see Jesus in her heart. Later, Betsie’s cough turns bloody, and Corrie brings her to the hospital. When Corrie returns to the barracks without Betsie, she wonders how, packed in tightly with so many women, she can feel so alone.

Summary: Chapter 14: The Blue Sweater

Betsie soon recovers and returns to the barracks, where she is assigned to knitting socks. The guards don’t enter the knitting room because of the fleas, which allows Betsie to share Bible readings and prayers with others. Corrie is slated to work in a factory, but she doesn’t want to leave Betsie. A sympathetic guard arranges for Corrie to work with Betsie in the knitting room, which now serves as a prayer center. Betsie dreams of owning a big house to continue their life of service. Winter proves deadly. The sickest women are taken to the crematorium. At roll call, the women stomp their feet to keep warm. Corrie muses about her own selfishness, and how easy it is to downplay one’s own self-centeredness when surrounded by greater evil. 

Betsie falls ill again but continues to describe her vision of a camp in detail, with window boxes and bright green paint. Betsie goes to the hospital again and soon dies. A kind guard allows Corrie to see Betsie’s body, and she notes that Betsie’s face appears peaceful and beautiful. In the hospital hallway, Corrie reaches for Betsie’s light blue sweater lying on the floor, the sweater Nollie sent so long ago. However, the kind guard warns her to not touch the sweater as it is contaminated and must be burned. Corrie leaves the sweater behind.

Analysis: Chapters 12-14: The Blue Sweater

The action of the chapters in which Corrie and Betsie move from one place of imprisonment to another follows a motif of ever-worsening conditions and ever-escalating horrors. At Vught, they experience fear, hunger, and terror. On the train journey to Ravensbruck, they are treated worse than domestic animals, deprived of food, water, space, and cleanliness. The Germans despise the prisoners for the filth they themselves forced upon them. In Ravensbruck itself, they are forced into the most overcrowded, disgusting living conditions yet, with the added threat of knowing that if they become too sick or weak, they will simply be killed. This shadow is so terrifying that the women never discuss it, and Corrie barely touches upon it in the narrative, even though she describes in detail other torments such as the roll calls, the vermin, the naked inspections, and being policed to the toilet. Corrie is able to connect to her religious faith in these extreme conditions by recalling that Jesus hung naked on the cross. As she frames her experience according to the theme of faith, the physical agony of the concentration camp becomes for her an act of atonement and worship.

Corrie highlights the contrast between her more ordinary perspective on their experience in the camps and Betsie’s deeply loving, charitable response. As most people would, Corrie feels murderous toward Jan Vogel when she learns his work as a Gestapo informer led to their imprisonment and Father’s death. Betsie amazes Corrie with her sympathy for what Jan Vogel must be suffering. When Corrie sees a guard simply as a Nazi and resents her, Betsie sees a young woman in pain. When Corrie is aghast at the sleeping platforms in Ravensbruck concentration camp, Betsie insists they give thanks for what they have. Up until her death, Betsie sets an exceptional example of loving her enemies, an example Corrie reveres even when she finds it difficult to follow. Here the theme of faith is made explicit and heavily emphasized by Betsie’s saintlike words and behavior.