An interview with Lois Lowry reveals the the famous children’s novel Number the Stars was based on 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 reputation Newbery Medal and make friend cry together you wrote your book report—it was likewise based ~ above a true story, as Lowry said The analysis Teacher in 1990.

Though the book takes ar in 1940s Denmark, wherein protagonist Annemarie helps the Danish Resistance hide and also smuggle Danish Jews to security in Sweden, it started in Bermuda. There, on a 1988 vacation, Lowry talked to her friend Annelise about her childhood experience in wartime Denmark. Annelise spoke compellingly about her fear during air raids and frozen winters—and she terror the the Nazis who populated her country and also controlled its citizens’ lives.

“I suppose I had heard the story before, the the means the danes smuggled their Jewish population to Sweden in 1943,” Lowry writes. “But I had never heard it before in such a riveting, personal way.” v Annelise’s permission, Lowry created Annemarie. The real-life Annelise was frightened by the occupation and also the occasions she witnessed during the war. Lowry ratcheted increase that problem by having her fictional heroine actually take part in hiding her Jewish friend, Ellen Rosen, and inadvertently help smuggle them to Sweden when she it is intended a packet the ultimately stays clear of Nazi dogs from discovering covert Jews on a fishing boat.

For Lois Lowry, it was essential to connect how battle affects children, and how they, too, are participants in history.

Danish resistance come the Nazis began as soon as they populated the country in 1940, however was slow-growing, in component because the Nazis largely enabled Danish government and life to continue as usual throughout the war. In 1943, however, that changed. After a collection of nationwide strikes and an uptick in secret resistance, the Nazis provided the Danish federal government a choice: crack down on the protests or lose their capability to self-govern.

The federal government resigned en masse, and also the Nazis took end in earnest. Among their an initial moves to be to purge the country of its tiny Jewish population—and as soon as Danes got word that a roundup was planned, they managed to smuggle many of the country’s Jews come Sweden. Those that were caught mostly avoided extermination camps due to political pressure, and ultimately all but 51 Danish Jews endured the Holocaust.

The rescue the Denmark’s Jews was a facility and risky endeavor. The short distance to Sweden definitely played a duty in Gentiles’ willingness come smuggle Jews throughout the border, but the anglers who walk so often demanded exorbitant sums for the trip. Regardless of what the renowned legend suggests, the Danish king no wear a star in solidarity through Jews, and also other resistance attempts weren’t as effective or strategically important. The adult in Lowry’s book did action to aid save Jews, however could they have actually done much more sooner?

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

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“My satisfaction originates from hearing that youngsters care what happened afterward,” Lowry writes. Decades after Lowry composed those words, she book’s ongoing success (it to be the 37th best-selling children’s publication in 2016, a complete 28 year after that is debut) is a testimony to the reality that youngsters do care about real-life stories, even ones that focus on the fear uncovered in humanity’s darkest moments.