“…and I want you all to remember – that you must not dream yourselves back to the times before the war, but the dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for, something every little peasant boy can look forward to, and with pleasure feel he is a part of – something he can work and fight for.”
This excerpt was from a real letter written by a young man who was part of the Denmark resistance of Nazi occupied forces, from his prison cell just before he was executed. While Lowry’s story was fictional, she explained in the Afterword that stories like this were true and provided this sample to illustrate how the people of Denmark worked together to save the lives of thousands of Jewish citizens.
In her fictional story, Number the Stars, Lowry introduced the readers to the Johansen family. The main character, Annemarie, her younger sister, Kristi, and her parents. Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen was a Jewish girl living in the same apartments and the two were nearly inseparable. During the Nazi occupation of Denmark, the time came when the German soldiers attempted to relocate the Jewish citizens. The bravery of the Johansen family was told as they risked their lives to save their friends from the unknown dangers of the relocations.
Annemarie discovered a secret language of codes used by her family. At first she thought it was strange and was angry that her family would lie to her, but she discovered it made it easier for one to be brave if they don’t know the entire truth. She found her uncle and father talking of delivering a carton of cigarettes to be strange, but the carton turned out to be the code for her friend, Ellen, who was to be taken to a safe place. Good weather for fishing came to mean, a good time to take the Jewish friends to a safe place as well.
While the story was fictional, the reader experiences with the characters what it means to be brave and overcome life and death challenges. I enjoy reading stories of the brave persevering during tough times, who doesn’t? Lowry is an exceptional writer with other works like The Giver, if you haven’t read any of her work, you are missing out!