Monday, September 14, 2015

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
by Phillip Hoose
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015.  198 pgs.  History

     When Germany invaded Denmark in April of 1940, the Danes were given the choice of fighting back or becoming an occupied "protectorate" of Germany. They chose discretion over valor and submitted without a fight. Knud Pedersen, a 15 year old student, was deeply ashamed that Denmark hadn't resisted like neighboring Norway. So he, his brother, and some of his schoolmates formed the Churchill Club, a resistance unit designed to sabotage Nazi operations. At first their only weapons were their bicycles and their strong young legs for pedaling. They began by misdirecting Nazi troops by swiveling road signs in the wrong direction or beating the signs to the ground with rocks. The destructiveness of their activities escalated until they were setting explosives and stealing guns to be used when the British came to liberate them. Eventually the boys were caught and imprisoned, but they found ways even from their jail cells to continue the destruction. In addition, when their activities became widely known, other Danes mounted resistance campaigns as well. Phillip Hoose is a reliably wonderful writer of nonfiction for young people and The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is marked by his signature plain-spoken prose and depth of research. Hoose had the opportunity to interview Knud Pedersen himself, who became and artist after the war, and his first-person stories give this narrative immediacy, fervor, and tension.  Highly recommended for young people from 5th grade on up.

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