Black History Month October
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Bruno is a 9-year-old boy growing up during WW2 in Berlin. He lives with his parents, his 12-year-old sister Gretel, whom he describes as 'A Hopeless Case,' and maids, one of whom is named Maria. After a visit by Adolf Hitler, The Fuhrer (which Bruno commonly mispronounces as "Fury"), Bruno's father, Ralf, is promoted to Commandant and the family has to move to Auschwitz, which Bruno mispronounced as "Out-With"), the biggest concentration camp in history, on the orders of "The Fury".
The Silver Sword
Our first extract is from The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. “Joseph Balicki", the headmaster of a primary school in Warsaw, was arrested by German soldiers in early 1940, a few months into WW2 and taken away to a prison camp. His primary school was shortly taken over and the students were forced to be taught in German. Pictures of Adolf Hitler had been put up around the school, and during a scripture lesson Joseph had secretly turned one of these pictures around to face the wall. Someone had reported this to the Germans and as a result, he was taken from his house to the prison camp on a cold winter's night. He spent more than a year in prison before escaping after knocking out a guard and stealing the man's uniform. He then set off to his hometown of Warsaw. After fleeing the prison, Joseph arrived at a house in a village across the valley from the prison camp and took shelter with an elderly couple living there. They were at first confused by his Polish appearance and speech, as well as with his German uniform, but they accepted him as a friend after he told them about what had happened to him and showed them the prison number ZAK 2473 branded on his arm as proof. Shortly after his arrival, they heard the prison camp "escape bell" ringing in the distance, and he realised his escape must have been detected. German soldiers arrived the next day searching for the escapee but Joseph had hidden up a chimney to avoid being captured or shot. Two soldiers had entered the house and they fired bullets up the chimney to discover if anyone is there but they fled the house (fearful of ruining their uniforms) after dislodging a heap of soot. Joseph spent two weeks in the house before returning to Warsaw. The old man travelled with him for the first part of the journey, after which Joseph ventured on alone.