The year is 1940, the dawn of World War II, and Demark is under German attack. Very few are fighting back, taking a stand or doing anything other than watching from the sidelines as disaster unfolds. Knud Pedersen, 15 years old, will not fall without a fight. Knud wants the German soldiers to go home. This reminded me of the song “Get Back” by the Beatles, especially the line “Get back to where you once belonged.” He believed, much like many, that the Germans did not have permission to take control over the Danish.
So, he and his brother, Jens, along with a handful of schoolmates took action against the Nazis unlike their “role model” parents. Knud first put together a group called the RAF club, named after British pilots. Anyone who was willing to prove that they would do anything to rebel and stand tall for Denmark’s freedom was gladly accepted. This was the beginning of their rebellious acts. But, after busting German signs and vandalizing brick walls with their insignia, the Pederson family moved. But, did this stop them? Persevering for what they believed in, in their new town, they organized another group, still without their parents’ knowledge. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ abuse and eventual imprisonment helped ignite a full-blown Danish resistance. Combining his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, Phillip Hoose tells this inspiring story of these young war heroes.
At the end of this motivational story, I was reminded of the song, “I Will Be Heard” by Hatebreed. This song just brought back the memories of this book, and how the whole time, the message the Churchill Club was sending was that they wanted to be heard. A short story, but still an empowering one, I would give The Boys Who Challenged Hitler a 10/10 for its gruesome adventure and determination.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.