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How One Family Saved Many from the Nazis

by Ann Alma

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-88899-791-3
Publisher: Groundwood

During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, many sided with the Germans, but many others resisted and created a movement dedicated to sabotage and to the rescue of Jews and Gentiles in danger. Fran and Mies Braal, one such couple, opened their country home to children of Resistance members and to a wounded Canadian airman. Alma tells the true story of this brave family through the voice of an anonymous fictional narrator, using invented dialogue and imagined scenarios to describe daily life in the home. Frightening moments—Nazis on search, false alarms, illness (hepatitis)—punctuate a routine which includes a makeshift education for the children. In her epilogue, the author explains her use of this narrator, whom she would like to “stand for all children who go through war” as a way to tell the real story from a young person’s perspective. However, this fictionalization combined with the real characters and black-and-white historical photographs may leave readers confused about how the nameless, genderless protagonist fits in. (historical note, glossary, further readings) (Fictionalized nonfiction. 10-13)