Friday, November 22, 2019

Don't Tell the Nazis, The Nazi Sabeteurs

Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk. Don't Tell the Nazis
December 3rd 2019 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Krystia lives in a small Ukranian village with her mother and her sister Maria in 1941. Her father passed away a few years ago, so she is glad to have uncles, aunts, and cousins in the area. Things are difficult, because the area has been under Soviet occupation, but there is some hope when the Germans liberate the town. Of course, even though there are a few nice Germans, like the man who takes over her father's blacksmith shop, there are a lot of Germans that are not. Maria's mother gets a job working for the local commandant in the big house in town, cleaning and helping with entertainment, and occasionally Krystia and her sister help out as well. The loss of life is horrendous at this period in time-- Krystia's uncle is killed, and shortly after, her cousin is as well. The Germans also call together groups in the town, then march them into the woods, shoot them, and push them into mass graves. All of this activity convinces Krystia to try to hide things from the Nazis, such as sending the family cow to live with an aunt in the country. She also gets involved with resistance work. It's very dangerous, since the Germans who have been displaced from other areas are given places to live in her town, but she feels strongly that she must try to work against the enemy. Eventually, the Jews in town are all sent to one neighborhood and cordoned off. Krystia gets food to her friends there whenever she can. When her friend Dolik's father is killed and his mother is sent away, her family takes him in, with two other people, and hides them under the stove in the house. Eventually, they are found out, and Krystia's mother is hung for her role in this. This just makes Krystia more determined to fight against the Nazis, and she joins an aunt who works for the resistance and lives in the forest.
Strengths: I love how Skrypuch bases her stories on those told by actual survivors, and how they cover facets of the Holocaust about which I have never read. The details of the privations are something I always find interesting; things like the small amounts of food people ate, how hard it was to get clothing, and how difficult is was to go about daily life with the Nazis watching every move are all things I think it's important for students to know. There are just enough characters to get a good feel for Krystia's extended family and her village, and it's interesting to see characters like the German mother and daughter who move to the town because they are displaced.
Weaknesses: The mother's death was depicted in a rather disturbing way. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but I didn't expect it due to the off camera nature of most of the other deaths.
What I really think: I am definitely purchasing this, but will try not to hand it to some of the more sensitive souls in my school because of the mother's death. Realistic, but a bit abrupt and shocking.

Seiple, Samantha. Nazi Saboteurs: Hitler's Secret Attack on America
December 3rd 2019 by Scholastic Nonfiction
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

During WWII, the Nazis planned sabotage attacks on a variety of US manufacturing, transportation and other locations that were crucial to the US war effort. Due to human error and frailty, these were never made. Seiple follows the plans of George Dasch and his compatriots in a tale that should have been made into a 1960s WWII comedy (yes, this was actually a thing, youngsters) starring Werner Klemperer, Roy Kinnear, and Arte Johnson.

Dasch was born in Germany, but lived for twenty years in the US. He was disgruntled; even though his parents sacrificed so that he could get a good education, the best work he could find in the US was as a waiter. When the war was percolating, he decided to return to Germany and find a way to make himself useful to the government because he preferred to support Germany rather than the US in the war. However, it didn't take long for him to realize that the Nazis were very evil. He continued with the plans, hoping to somehow use his German connections to better his situation in the US. The men who worked with him all had their own reasons for joining, but none of them trusted each other.

From the time the U Boat dropped them off on the coast, things went wrong. They managed to bury boxes of explosives, but left a trail of evidence everywhere. They were also spotted by a civil defense worker whom Dasch should have killed but didn't. They managed to take a train to New York City, where they stayed in luxury hotels and went on shopping sprees and had lunch at fancy places. Dasch realized that they weren't going to be able to go through with their sabotage, so tried to find a way to make things better for himself, which oddly did not involve just running off with the money to a small town in Iowa and spending his life there, which is what I would have done! The comedy of errors continued. Eventually, the entire group was captured and sent to trial, with six of the eight men involved being executed for being spies in a controversial move that denied them a civil trial. This was important when the US had to deal with the perpetrators of 9/11.

This is a fascinating book that covers a little known facet of WWII. It will appeal to a number of readers, and, like all of Seiple's books, is fast paced, short, and easy to read. I did get bogged down in the middle with the ways that all eight men were apprehended, but it was fun to read about their shopping sprees and antics in New York. An automat! We may have a lot of cool technology now, but I wish there were still automats! Definitely purchasing this title.

No, it's not a sign of the apocalypse, but I've worn jeans twice this week. Of course, when I wore them with a navy double breasted blazer, one student asked me why I was wearing a suit. So even when I wear jeans, it doesn't look like I'm wearing jeans.

This is my OSU camouflage. I don't follow the Buckeyes at all, but there's usually a game, right? Ooh. At noon tomorrow. I should go grocery shopping. There's never anyone in the store during a game. 

1 comment:

  1. Very much appreciated this review - one of my teachers was going to use this for fourth graders and I said we better not on this one... Definitely going to purchase - Skrypuch and Gratz are huge for us - but will put in the teen collection.