Thursday, November 3, 2011

Intrepid women

I’m continuing with my World War II theme at least until November 11th, Remembrance Day.

Women Heroes of World War II: 26 stories of espionage, sabotage, resistance, and rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood (940.5485 AtW 2011) is a fantastic resource which looks at the role some women played in resisting Nazi occupation in their home countries.

The book, organized by country, looks at two to five women from each who contributed to the war effort, often at the expense of their lives. Each section is introduced with a brief look at how the country became involved in the war and what resistance or collaboration there was with the Nazis. In addition to European countries the United States is also included.

With just a few pages, we are given an image of each woman and what motivated her to join in fighting the Nazis. These women were journalists, spies, couriers, radio-operators, ran safe-houses, protected Jews and servicemen, printed information about Nazi activities and front-line nurses. The brevity of each entry makes the book very manageable for students in grades 6/7 and higher, or for a teacher to read aloud. Also, because of the shortness of the entries, it’s primarily an introduction and will likely get students engaged enough to do additional research. Some of the women such as Sophie Scholl, Irene Gut, Irena Sendler, Marlene Dietrich and others, have had books written about them and these are listed at the end of each entry. Websites with additional information about the women are also included, so it is possible for students to find out more.

A word of caution – the book does not shy away from some of the brutality of the events but doesn’t over emphasize it, either. Younger students who are unfamiliar with some of the atrocities perpetuated by the Nazis may be troubled. But these were troubling times.

Overall, these are fascinating stories, with enough tension to engage students. I loved that each woman’s story included a picture of her. It made it that much more real.


Roberta said...

Sounds fascinating. Definitely a good choice for Women's History Month, too.

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