Review Blog

Sep 21 2015

Making bombs for Hitler by Marsha Skrypuch

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Scholastic Australia, 2015. ISBN 9781760157234
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Captured by the Nazis during the Second World War, two orphaned sisters are forced to take divergent paths. Larissa's story was documented by Marsha Skrypuch in Stolen Child (2010). In Making Bombs for Hitler (2015), the author details the experiences of Larissa's older sister, Lida. This companion novel is a testament to the legions of young Ostarbeiters, mostly Ukrainian; who were captured, worked and starved, during the war.
We learn in the Author's Note that adolescents abducted during raids across the Soviet Union, were forced to work long hours in laundries, hospitals, road works and munitions factories for the war effort. At first, Lida's sewing skills gain her a position in the camp laundry. Unfortunately, for the remainder of the war, her deft hands are utilized in making explosive devices.
Eventually, as the Allies gain the upper hand, Lida & her fellow prisoners become emboldened and sabotage the German bombs. But with the Allied bombs raining down with increasing regularity, the friends are forced to take different paths in order to weather their liberation and its aftermath.
Riveting despite the horrors, Skrypuch has written convincingly in a detached style - much like the mental state these children may have employed to survive. This is an important piece of juvenile literature given that few historians have told the story of these enumerable Eastern European children, whose struggles and deaths were hitherto largely unacknowledged during the darkest years in human history. Though the subject matter breaks new ground, both academic and public libraries have a duty to expound totalitarianism of any kind for the improvement of mankind. Accordingly, Marsha Skrypuch's factional history, describing the incarceration of millions of young slave labourers, is highly recommended for potential teaching moments or as a discussion starter.
Deborah Robins

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