The Boys Who Chal­lenged Hitler: Knud Ped­er­sen and the Churchill Club

Phillip Hoose
  • Review
By – February 2, 2016

Den­mark is known and respect­ed for hav­ing resist­ed its Ger­man occu­piers, and for sav­ing most of its Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion dur­ing the famous boatlift to Swe­den before the Ger­man occu­piers could round up the Jews and deport them to camps. Few knew, how­ev­er, how the Dan­ish Resis­tance start­ed. In the first two years of Ger­man occu­pa­tion, the Danes had tried to show resis­tance by singing patri­ot­ic Dan­ish songs in pub­lic places and wear­ing a patri­ot­ic King’s pin.” But that did not sat­is­fy a young man named Knud Ped­er­sen, who, after a two-year peri­od of his country’s nonre­sistance to the Ger­man occu­piers, became dis­gust­ed and start­ed a cam­paign of his own. His broth­ers and school­mates, per­haps ten in all, even­tu­al­ly joined him. They called them­selves The Churchill Club” because, at the same time that they embarked on their lone­ly cam­paign of resis­tance, England’s Win­ston Churchill was also on his, as the sole Allied cham­pi­on fight­ing against Hitler and Ger­many. The Churchill Club’s acts of sab­o­tage grew more and more sophis­ti­cat­ed, dar­ing, and dan­ger­ous. Between Decem­ber 1941 and their arrest in May 1942, the boys had struck more than two dozen times, rac­ing through the streets on bicy­cles after per­form­ing more and more dan­ger­ous­ly com­plex hits.” Ped­er­sen was able to describe to the author, in intrigu­ing detail, the var­i­ous actions that the group took, includ­ing the ones used to dis­guise their actions from the Ger­mans. The deeds of these ten pre-high-school boys awak­ened the com­placent nation,” writes author Philip Hoose, and aroused oth­ers to emu­late them. (Years lat­er, Churchill, hear­ing about them, hon­ored the now full-grown men.) The author has also added much of his own research, descrip­tions, and reflec­tions to this intrigu­ing and excit­ing sto­ry. Pho­tos and a bib­li­og­ra­phy are includ­ed. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 – 18.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

Discussion Questions