I knew there were courageous people who stepped up in the Second World War, who were willing to risk everything, including their own lives, to save their neighbours, but it might be the first time I read an entire story about it.

And while When We Were Shadows by Janet Wees ($14.95, Second Story Press) is based on the true story of Walter and his parents, who live in the Hidden Village deep in the Dutch forest, the book also shows the lengths average people went to to stand up to Hitler and the Nazis by saving as many Jewish people – and others who were targeted – as they could.

The story is told through memories Walter shares with his is granddaughter, Jenny, as well as letters he wrote to his grandmother, whom he was separated from during the war (but who we later find out was in hiding not too far from where Walter and his parents hid. The letters were delivered by members of the Dutch Resistance).

Through Walter, the book showcases the story of a group of people who did what was right and who gave up what little they had for people who had even less. It tells the story of Walter and his family and the constant fear they lived under as they escaped time and time again from the Nazis. And it tells the story of average people who took people in or simply left doors open so their neighbours could be safe, if only for a night.

While still awful, this book made me feel proud, if that is right word, that many people didn’t turn a blind eye to the horrors going on around then and tried their best to do what was right.

A copy of this book was provided by Second Story Press for an honest review.
The opinions are my own.