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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Frank Baer
Age Range: 12+
Max, like many other German children was sent to a Children’s Evacuation Camp (CEC) by his parents to be safe from the bombing in Berlin. He has been in the (CEC) in Czechoslovakia for nearly four years. Now, as the war draws to a close plans are underway to send the children home. They are loaded onto a train, tightly crammed into the carriages to begin their long journey home. Attacked by Allied fighter planes the train is abandoned and the exhausted group continues on foot through the ravaged countryside. Max and two of his friends are left behind so they must continue their journey alone. Along the way they are joined by two girls, also on their own.
Their journey takes seven months from April – October in 1945 with plenty of adventure along the way. Starving, aching, and constantly threatened by hidden dangers, the five children travel through foreign territory on foot, horseback, bicycle, truck, and train. Against all the odds the children manage to survive on their long trek home.
Frank Baer has written a gripping and unsentimental novel. Though the characters have been fictionalised, the story of Max’s gang is based on fact and the result of extensive journalistic research. The journey is long and difficult but their story is one of courage, suspense and coming of age.