An interview through Lois Lowry reveals that the renowned children’s novel Number the Stars was based upon a true story the resistance come the Nazis.

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Lois Lowry’s 1989 novel Number the Stars, didn’t simply win a call Newbery Medal and also make girlfriend cry together you composed your book report—it was likewise based on a true story, as Lowry called The analysis Teacher in 1990.

Though the book takes ar in 1940s Denmark, whereby protagonist Annemarie help the Danish Resistance hide and also smuggle Danish Jews to security in Sweden, it started in Bermuda. There, top top a 1988 vacation, Lowry speak to her girlfriend Annelise about her childhood experiences in wartime Denmark. Annelise spoke compellingly about her fear throughout air raids and also frozen winters—and her terror the the Nazis who populated her country and controlled that is citizens’ lives.

“I expect I had heard the story before, that the means the danes smuggled your Jewish population to Sweden in 1943,” Lowry writes. “But I had actually never heard it prior to in such a riveting, personal way.” through Annelise’s permission, Lowry produced Annemarie. The real-life Annelise was frightened through the occupation and the occasions she witnessed during the war. Lowry ratcheted increase that issue by having her fictional heroine actually take part in hiding her Jewish friend, Ellen Rosen, and inadvertently help smuggle them come Sweden once she delivers a packet that ultimately prevents Nazi dog from discovering concealed Jews on a fishing boat.

For Lois Lowry, that was crucial to connect how war affects children, and also how they, too, space participants in history.

Danish resistance to the Nazis started as shortly as they inhabited the country in 1940, but was slow-growing, in part because the Nazis largely enabled Danish government and life to proceed as normal throughout the war. In 1943, however, the changed. ~ a collection of nationwide strikes and also an uptick in underground resistance, the Nazis offered the Danish government a choice: crack under on the protests or lose their ability to self-govern.

The government resigned en masse, and also the Nazis took end in earnest. One of their first moves was to purge the nation of its small Jewish population—and when Danes gained word that a roundup to be planned, they controlled to smuggle most of the country’s Jews come Sweden. Those who were recorded mostly avoided extermination camps due to political pressure, and also ultimately all however 51 Danish Jews made it through the Holocaust.

The rescue the Denmark’s Jews to be a facility and risky endeavor. The short distance to Sweden definitely played a role in Gentiles’ willingness come smuggle Jews throughout the border, however the anglers who did so regularly demanded exorbitant sums for the trip. In spite of what the famous legend suggests, the Danish king didn’t wear a star in solidarity v Jews, and other resistance attempts weren’t as effective or strategically important. The adult in Lowry’s publication did action to help save Jews, yet could they have actually done an ext sooner?

Number the Stars doesn’t need to ask or answer those questions—after all, its protagonist is just ten year old. Because that Lowry, the was important to interact how war affects children, and also how they, too, room participants in history.

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“My satisfaction comes from hearing that children care what happened afterward,” Lowry writes. Years after Lowry wrote those words, her book’s continued success (it to be the 37th best-selling children’s book in 2016, a complete 28 year after the debut) is a testimony to the truth that children do care around real-life stories, also ones that emphasis on the fear uncovered in humanity’s darkest moments.