Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews

Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews

by Ellen Levine

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The Danish resistance and rescue of the Jews receives in-depth treatment for grades 5-7, with vintage black and white photos accompanying the story of the resistance and rescue of the Jews of Denmark. Levine interviewed dozens of Danes from rescuers and survivors to those captured for this inviting probe.


The Danish resistance and rescue of the Jews receives in-depth treatment for grades 5-7, with vintage black and white photos accompanying the story of the resistance and rescue of the Jews of Denmark. Levine interviewed dozens of Danes from rescuers and survivors to those captured for this inviting probe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers who have thrilled to Lois Lowry's Number the Stars or Bjarne Reuter's The Boys from St. Petri will want to explore this sober volume about the Danish response to the Nazi occupation. Levine (If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad) debunks some widely believed legends about Danish resistance--for example, that every Dane wore a yellow Star of David when the Germans ordered the Jews to do so (in fact, the Germans never promulgated this order in Denmark). As she persuasively demonstrates, however, those legends reflect truths about the Danes in their essential solidarity and rejection of Nazi thinking. While she lists the factors that gave Denmark advantages over other Nazi-occupied countries, she also focuses on the experiences of individuals who, almost as a matter of course, risked their lives to defy the Nazis. Unlike many writers, she treats the extraordinary rescue of nearly the entire Danish Jewish population in October 1943, as only part of the story of the resistance, in fact positing that Nazi persecution of the Jews and the success of the rescue mission led to enormous popular support for the resistance. Beyond saving the Jews, Danes sabotaged munitions factories, supplied critical information to British bombers and organized devastating strikes. The author cross-cuts from a general narrative to focus on specific persons; it is sometimes difficult to keep track of these individuals, but virtually all their stories are inspiring. Well-chosen photos add impact to this dramatic history. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Denmark was unique among the German-occupied countries of World War II. The takeover in 1940 had been nearly bloodless. Danes had been assured that their political independence would be respected in exchange for an uninterrupted flow of Danish food and industrial products to the German war machine. Life continued normally for most Danes, including Denmark's eight thousand Jews�that is, until 1943. In this thoroughly researched and dramatically told account, Levine relates the events of that year and what led up to them. Not only did increased Danish resistance lead to a crackdown by the Nazis, but also for the first time, Hitler's "final solution" threatened Danish Jews. Through the stories of twenty-one survivors who experienced those events, readers learn how ordinary Danish citizens hid and transported the vast majority of Jews to safety in Sweden. The Danes' protest, sabotage, and resistance assisted the Allies in their war effort. The author has skillfully interwoven vivid detail, exciting narrative action, and a thorough historical overview in this excellent book. By using real-life incidents, Levine presents this important and inspiring story in a way that will hold the attention and interest of young readers. Photos of the people whose stories are told and an appendix telling what happened to them after the war are helpful additions to the book. This account is highly recommended for Holocaust studies and history collections. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Holiday House, 164p, Index,Photos, Maps, Biblio., Source Notes, Chronology, Appendix. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Heidi Borton VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Through Lois Lowry's novel Number the Stars (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), many students are familiar with the Danish rescue. Those readers and others will find Levine's nonfiction treatment of this subject a welcome opportunity to learn more about the Scandinavian country which refused to cooperate with the Nazis. Why did the Danes protect their Jews when other European countries did not? Levine portrays an independent, democratic people outraged by Nazi domination. Readers learn about underground newspapers, factory bombings, and weapons collection by resistance fighters. The Danish rescue of the Jews is shown as part of a larger resistance movement. The Danes saw actions to deport Jews as attacks on their citizenry. Unlike other Europeans, the Danes maintained their Jewish neighbors' homes and cheered when they finally arrived back home. Personal stories of resistance fighters, rescued Jews, and rescuers are interspersed throughout the narrative, providing an exciting blend of memoir and historical fact. Details, such as Copenhagen's financial support of Jews living in Sweden and the support of Danish Jews in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, are also provided. Both students and adults will find this volume excellent reading. A chronology and bibliography are included. This book is an invaluable resource for a Holocaust curriculum. 2000, Holiday House, Ages 10 up, $18.95. Reviewer: Jackie Hechtkopf—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-This fascinating account pays homage to the remarkable efforts of the Danish people to smuggle the vast majority of their country's Jewish citizens to safety in Sweden during World War II. Interspersed with the straightforward history are first-person accounts of the war years, mainly based on the author's interviews with Danes who escaped, assisted with escapes, or joined the resistance. These accounts help make these increasingly distant events come alive. The well-chosen black-and-white period photographs and reproductions add to the text, and the cover (a montage with Hitler's face looming over a scene of a burning rail yard and running boy) is particularly striking. The brief biographies of the people interviewed, telling what they did during and after the war, make for touching reading. An excellent history and an inspired complement to Lois Lowry's Number the Stars (Houghton, 1989).-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
New York Times Book Review
There are several fine, widely read novels for young readers about the remarkable Danish resistance during World War II, so this well-researched nonfiction account, which includes interviews with participants Jewish and not, is particularly welcome. There's a chronology and an excellent bibliography.
Kirkus Reviews
History comes alive in this moving story of the heroic Danes who defied the Nazis during the occupation of Denmark. Levine (A Fence Away From Freedom, 1995, etc.) weaves a historical narrative into the real-life experiences of 21 Danes who were young in 1940. She puts the account of a very small country that managed to save nearly all of its Jewish citizens from German concentration camps in context by asking how this could have happened. Citing Edmund Burke—"The one condition necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"—Levine makes her point that the Danish people refused to do exactly that. Beginning with the Nazi invasion of Denmark on April 9, 1940, Levine depicts the Nazi occupation from 1940-43. Then she takes the reader back in time to understand the migration of the Jewish people to Denmark; the freedom of religion they enjoyed there; and the history of ghettoization and anti-Semitism in other countries. She picks up the story again to describe the resistance movement and the events leading up to the hiding and ferrying of Jews out of the country to Sweden. The photographs, from the dramatic cover to the portraits of the interviewees, are dramatic and effective. Source notes, biographical sketches of the people interviewed, a chronology, and an author's explanation of her research technique are both interesting and useful as research tools. A fascinating blend of historical background and the impact of events on real people. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.78(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.65(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

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