Throughout the story, The Churchill Club helped evolve Danish resistance against the Germans who occupied their land and government. There are also many theme topics that can be found in the text. For example, one strong theme topic is identity. Knud is determined to serve the resistance and to do whatever he can to stop the Germans from occupying Denmark.
One quote in the text that shows Knud’s identity is on page 154: “I got an idea: I bet a toy train with a tender and three or four wagons loaded with PE2 dynamite on rails leading beneath the Gestapo building might work. That’s how desperate I was to be a part of the organized resistance. Of course, the rational side of me knew this was a harebrained idea, a hopeless enterprise. But ever since I had come home from the jail I had tried without success to introduce myself to the organized resistance movement built up by the SOE.” This shows that Knud would do almost anything to be a part of a resistance, based on all the thoughts and ideas that cross his mind.
Another theme topic in The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is good vs evil. Although this may be a very general topic for such a serious series of events, this book’s main plot relies on this theme topic. Knud Pederson, the RAF Club, and The Churchill Club all strived to get start a resistance against Germany, who was the oppressor of their country. Knud’s experiences with the Churchill Club all revolve around the theme topic of good vs evil, where they deemed Germany to be evil. They took actions onto their own hands because the people of Denmark didn’t.
Overall, the theme topics of identity and good vs evil are clearly present in The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, from the beginning to the end. The connections to these theme topics show the reality of who the people were and what they had to face during WWII, and the remarkable story of Knud Pederson and The Churchill Club.
Knud Pederson went through a lot of mental challenges and hardships after he was released from Nyborg State Prison but persevered through it. A quote that shows this is on page 152: “A couple of times his mother called me,” Patricia Bibby recalls. “He had locked himself inside his bedroom door and would not come out. ‘Would you please see if you can help?’ she asked. I stood outside the door talking, trying to get him to open it. He had torn his paintings and writings. He said they were no good. That they were worthless. That he felt worthless. It was a terrible depression he had. And we would talk.” This shows that ever since Knud was released from prison, he had a hard time trying to figure out what he should do. The following day was when he had an idea that would ultimately get him involved in resistance work because that was the only thing that interested him at that time.
Knud is also a very significant character in the book because of his contributions to both the K Company resistance and the Churchill Club that he originally helped start with his friends. His side that he takes on in this story also signifies that he is the protagonist, going against the antagonist, Germany. This is also shown through all of the efforts he put in to start a resistance going against the Germans occupying Denmark. Though he may seem to be a very strong character, fighting for what he believes in, this wasn’t always the case as shown earlier. Knud’s morale crashed down when he was released from Nyborg State Prison, and because he wasn’t motivated to learn in school, he became depressed (that is until he was recruited into the resistance). Overall, this shows how Knud’s emotions and characteristics evolved based on the decisions he made. He went through a lot of ups and downs but eventually made it through the end.
In The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, Knud and the Churchill Club had a large impact on the Danes. They were arrested and sent to prison at King Hans Gades Jail in Aalborg, and later transferred to Nyborg State Prison. One quote that illustrates the impact of the Club’s arrest was from a typical Aalborg civilian: ”Their arrest came as a bombshell to us. Today it is difficult to imagine what an enormous impact the unveiling of the Churchill Club meant to the Danish population … The spiritual shock effect was tremendous and lasting.” This shows how much of an impact the Churchill Club had on the Danish people and how much the revealing their existence mattered to them. When word got out that the Churchill Club was to be punished, people thought differently about how harsh the punishment would be. Many presses thought that the members of the Churchill Club shouldn’t face harsh punishments and that Danes should look up to them for their bravery. Others in support of the Germans thought that they should be severely punished, with one person even saying that they should be whipped until they realize what they have done.
One image that stands out to me in the text is the picture of the club’s weapons and grenades they had stolen from the Germans so far. The picture shows how dedicated the members of the Churchill Club was to their job – to protect Denmark and to start a resistance. This image also shows the bravery of everyone in the club, and what it took to obtain those weapons. They were successful in their job, and this image even says so. Later on, when the police capture everyone from the Churchill Club, Knud confesses that the weapons they collected were for the British when they liberated Denmark. Overall, this further enhances my understanding of the impact the club had on the people of Aalborg, both Germans and Danes alike. Their weapon collection offers an insightful imagine that can help readers to understand how successful the Churchill Club was.
In The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose, Knud Pederson’s goals and character traits express tremendous growth and significance. The protagonist of the story is Knud himself, who creates the RAF Club with his brother and friends, and later the Churchill Club when he moves out of his old town. Knud’s goals become more and more important to him over time in the Churchill Club. The club’s main goal was to start a resistance within because the government wouldn’t do anything to prevent the Germans from taking over. Some acts of resistance included stealing guns and weapons, arson, and immobilizing military vehicles. Knud Pederson adds a different perspective to the text as a person who is against the Germans occupying Denmark. His perspective is through a typical teenage boy who dislikes everything that the Germans are doing, such as occupying Denmark.
One quote from the text is, “Now there was no armed, uniformed force to stand up for us. We were furious at our leaders. One thing had become very clear: now any resistance in Denmark would have to come from ordinary citizens, not from trained soldiers. (Page 17)” This quote is what starts off the clubs that Knud helped create, giving him a goal to work towards. Knud didn’t care and know much about war or politics until April 9, 1940, when German soldiers invaded his hometown, Odense. He and others started reading the newspapers every day, which were filled with stories of Norwegian civilians being murdered by German troops. This eventually leads to him and his friends taking action, which shows the significance of Knud’s charactization/growth in character. He is also important in the story through his first-person narrations, where he recalls back to his thoughts, feelings, and emotions throughout his developing identity and character. Overall, Knud Pederson is a very important character in The Boys Who Challenged Hitler due to the large role he played in the RAF and Churchill Clubs: to sabotage the Germans in his hometown(s) in any way possible.