Title: Courage & Defiance
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Major Themes: Denmark, Jews, World War II
Synopsis: Learn the incredible story of how Denmark saved nearly all their Jews from the Nazis.
I’ve been reading some book review blogs lately, to get good ideas for books to read and review. When I come across one that sounds interesting, I check our local library to see if they have it, and then request it if there is one in the system. Nine times out of ten, they don’t; we live in a very sparsely populated, very large rural area and the library system is pretty pitiful. Once in awhile, though, I am able to get a good book. Courage & Defiance was a recent find.
The subtitle gives a good idea what the book is about, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark. Before reading this book, all I had ever read about World War II in Denmark was the children’s books, Number the Stars (a great story, by the way), and a couple of the Young Underground books by Robert Elmer. So, I found this book very interesting. It is nonfiction, but very readable and fascinating history.
The Nazis took over Denmark overnight, without declaring war. They simply moved in one night, and in the morning the Danish government surrendered. They had no choice, really. Their country was very small, with no landforms making it easy to stand and fight. For three years, the German rule was fairly gentle, compared with the way they treated most other conquered nations. There was resistance, underground, but it was unorganized. Then, in 1943, the Germans decided to round up all the Jews in Denmark and ship them to concentration camps. The Danes wouldn’t stand for this, and pulled together like they never had before. The story of the rescue of Denmark’s Jews is one of the most wonderful stories to come out of that dreadful war.
As I was reading this book, I kept reading out excerpts that I found fascinating. When I related one of the most thrilling stories in the book to my boys, the 12-year-old picked up the book and started reading; he could hardly put it down till he had finished. No study of World War II is complete without hearing the story of Denmark under the Nazis—I’m glad I found this book.
WARNING: Being a story about a war, there is some killing, and a description of the horrific conditions in the concentration camps. There is also, of course, some lying, but I don’t remember noticing any bad language.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above