Life during World War II

Priestblock 25487

Jean Bernard
Deborah Lucas Schneider

Spellbinding! From its opening pages, I was absolutely riveted to Fr. Bernard’s incredible story of faith and courage. Already familiar with that hell on earth, I was hesitant to read Priestblock 25487, A Memoir of Dachau.

I took the plunge and was richly rewarded. It was one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read. With deep humility and simple piety, Fr. Bernard’s tells his horrific story of living (if you can call it that) in Dachau from May 19, 1941 to August 5, 1942.

The Mitchells: Five for Victory

Book cover: 'The Mitchells: Five for Victory'
Hilda Van Stockum

This is a charming and thoughtful story of an American family of five children during World War II (based on Hilda Van Stockum's own family) whose father is away at war. The family is very real with plenty of worries and troubles...but they manage to find joy with each other. For independent reading, it could be one your children's first full-length chapter books.Wit and wisdom make it a can't miss for adults as well (a perfect read-aloud). This has been a favorite with our family (for children as young as four or five) for many years.

The Journal of Ben Uchida

Book cover: 'The Journal of Ben Uchida'
Barry Denenberg

This is a fictitious diary of a 12 year old boy in a Japanese internment camp in California during World War II. (The diary covers the bombing of Pearl Harbor - Dec. 7 1941 thru parts of 1943). The diary is based on letters from Internment camp survivors and other actual events from the time period.

The story helps the reader to understand certain truths about the camps and the consequences of having such camps;

The Small War of Sergeant Donkey

Book cover: 'The Small War of Sergeant Donkey'
Maureen Daly

Chico Felippo is a young boy living in a small village in Southern Italy. It is 1944 and most of the war has moved north, but the American Army has a special "Remount Depot" nearby where donkeys are trained to assist the soldiers in the difficult mountain fighting. Chico loves these animals and becomes friends with many of the Americans as well as one particularly beloved animal, "Sergeant Donkey". The entire town suffers from a shortage of food because all of the donkeys which worked the fields had been seized by the Germans earlier in the war.

Schindler's List

This is a remarkable movie and the heart of the story is very beautiful. Two stories are intertwined. The first is simply the story of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis during World War II. The second is the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, determined to profit from the war by hiring Jews as cheap laborers. He is a womanizer, living the high life through in spite of the suffering around him.

The Scarlet and the Black

Christopher Plummer and Gregory Peck play arch-enemies in this story of a remarkable Irish Monsignor living in the Vatican who runs a network of safehouses for Jews, escaped POWs and others seeking refuge in Nazi-occupied Rome. Monsignor O'Flaherty (Gregory Peck) boldly collects funds for his work at high-profile parties and events and narrowly escapes capture at every turn. As Nazi Commandant Hoffer (Christopher Plummer) realizes the scope of O'Flaherty's threat to Nazi purposes, the good Monsignor's danger increases.

Life is Beautiful

This serves as a tamer, but every-bit-as-powerful, version of Schindler's List (at least in-so-far as it portrays the reality of the Nazi concentration camps and the hopelessness and unfairness suffered by its prisoners). Perhaps because this is a "fable" rather than biography, it manages to portray the awfulness of war in a more subtle way - without all the gore and through the eyes of a child. It's still quite intense, though, and would only be suitable for teens and adults.

The Assisi Underground

A true story of Italian Catholics helping Jews escape from the clutches of the Nazis during the Holocaust. It focuses on Padre Rufino, the superior of St. Francis' own church of San Damiano. I especially love the scene where a Mother Abbess who is hiding Jews in her cloister stands up to the Nazi officials and refuses to allow them to search the convent. Most appropriate for upper grade school or high school, depending on the sensitivity of your children. The movie is very well done, appears to be very carefully researched and was filmed on location is Assisi, Italy.

The Winged Watchman (audio)

Hilda van Stockum

With a gripping story and a spellbinding narrator, The Winged Watchman audiobook is a winner. Set during the dark days of the Nazi occupation of Holland during WWII, Joris, 10-years-old, and his older brother Dirk Jan are the main characters in this story. From the opening chapter in the book, when Joris saves a young puppy from being beaten, they struggle--alone or together--to do what is right in a world that seems to be falling apart.

The Winged Watchman

Book cover: 'The Winged Watchman'
Hilda Van Stockum

A wonderful intelligent, faith-filled story of courage and hope in the midst of great hardships The story centers around a Catholic family in Holland during the Nazi occupation. There is plenty of excitement as the boys discover and give aid to a downed English pilot and deliver messages for the "underground." Their family "grows" as they take in fugitives and war orphans which brings both hardship and joy.


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