Summary: Chapter 15: The Three Visions

Corrie’s legs swell. She is sent to an office where she sees a Certificate of Discharge with her name on it. A doctor diagnoses her with edema, and she goes to the hospital until she recovers. When well enough to leave, Corrie receives clothes, her possessions, and some food. On New Year’s Day 1945, she takes a train to Uelzen. Through the window, she views a bombed-out Germany. Once in Holland, Corrie spends ten days in a hospital until she’s well enough to travel to Willem’s house. Willem is dying, but his home houses more than fifty residents. 

Corrie then returns to the Beje, where she readjusts to life at home. In her mind, she keeps hearing Betsie’s words—We must tell people what we learned—and she begins to give talks. At one of her talks, a wealthy Ms. Bierens de Haan agrees to donate her lavish home to make Betsie’s vision a reality. In May, the Allies retake Holland, and the house fills with people damaged by the war. Corrie travels across the world, sharing Betsie’s story with all who will listen. When she meets a former SS guard, a reluctant handshake creates a current of love and forgiveness. Later, Corrie transforms a former concentration camp into a relief site. She installs window boxes and paints it bright green.

Summary: Chapter 16: Since Then . . .

This chapter is a short synopsis of the rest of Corrie’s postwar life. It describes the former concentration camp in Darmstadt that operated from 1946 to 1960 as a place of renewal, Willem’s death from tuberculosis in 1946, Willem’s son Kik’s death in 1944, and Peter’s compositions of devotional music. In 1959, Corrie learns that her release from Ravensbruck was the result of a clerical error. She travels the whole world telling Betsie’s story and sharing how “Jesus can turn loss into glory.” After several debilitating strokes, Corrie died on her 91st birthday in 1983, still cheerful and uplifting to people who visited her in her final days.

Analysis: Chapters 15 & 16

After Betsie’s death, Corrie’s narrative focus changes from the consolation of faith to her own physical and mental condition. Her wait in the Ravensbruck hospital followed by her release from prison create a more relatable experience for the reader. The account of her travel from Germany to the Netherlands is dreamlike, reflecting the experience of a starving prisoner who has been shut away from ordinary things for so long. The contrast in how she tells the incident of the German station agent who strikes her and those of the Dutch workman and nurse who help her suggests that Corrie has not developed Betsie’s saintly attitude toward her enemies. Corrie’s response to the nurses’ dining room shows how alienated she has become from normal life with amenities such as bathtubs and table manners. She reacts as someone who has been emotionally battered. Yet true to her old self, as soon as she begins to recover she wants only to get to her family.

Corrie’s homecoming is not a process of returning to old ways, but of discovering a new life in a once-familiar place forever changed by the war. Every small rediscovery underlines the theme of change, both in the places Corrie visits and in herself.  Corrie is intensely aware of the changes, which the narrative highlights by showing her reminiscing about long-ago events involving people who have since died. Her realization that she is searching for Betsie enables her to accept that the war has ended, and she can and must move into the next phase of the work they planned together. Although she does not use the term, Corrie understands she has been traumatized by the war and the camps, and the mission she and Betsie had planned is to heal others from their trauma. She learns by trial and error, employing the great compassion that is demonstrated by her turning over her own home to Dutch people who collaborated with the Nazis in the occupation. Her refusal to create curfews or gates at the house in Bloemendahl reflects the acquired wisdom of one who has experienced prison herself.

In the final chapter, the co-authors take over the narration to sum up the events of Corrie’s life after the 1940s and provide the reader with a chance to view Corrie’s character from the outside. In her later work, she appears as a busy, energetic woman who is always looking for the next task. Her behavior towards teenagers shows that she shares Father’s trait of seeing only the person, not the rank or fortune. The example of the embroidered cloth shows Corrie preaching from a simple, mundane example to make a spiritual point. This chapter explicitly ties all of Corrie’s actions to her Christian faith, providing a resolution for the events of her life as if it had been a novel.