In the opening chapter of this juvenile novel based on a true story, 12-year-old Krystia and her family celebrate on June 28, 1941 in Viteretz, Ukraine, as advancing German forces push out the Soviet army. But what seems like a new beginning is anything but that. The Germans – Nazis – quickly show their true colours.
Krystia and her family look on horrified as the Nazis confiscate the homes and possessions of their Jewish neighbours. Then the Nazi commandant periodically orders people to gather in the city square where he arrests Jewish people who are then taken away and shot.
When rumours of the “Jewish Question” begin to circulate, Krystia and her family realize that no Jewish person is safe in their city. Krystia decides to do all she can to protect her Jewish friends and neighbours even as she longs “for a simple life, where fathers lived to see their children grow, and where governments didn’t kill.”
In an attempt to further isolate Jewish people, the Nazis form a Jewish Ghetto in a dilapidated two-block area surrounded by barbed wire. There, 1,000 Jews are forced to live in horrendous conditions. However, Krystia heroically continues to help her imprisoned Jewish friends and neighbours.
The character of Krystia is based on the real life and actions of Krystia Sikorska who was eight years old in 1941. Don’t Tell the Enemy contains many stories of generosity, sacrifice, and profoundly moral actions which stand in stark contrast to the Nazis’ evil conduct.
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