Orphaned after both Russia and Germany invade her country of Ukraine, Lida is hopeful that she and her sister can stay together, with their grandmother. But what Lida doesn’t know is that the Nazis are always looking for slave labor, and young people are perfect for that. Larrisa and Lida are rounded up by Germans one day, and their wonderful grandmother has surely been killed. Lida is determined to keep Larrisa with her, but during a medical examination by the Nazis, Larrisa is taken away as well. Lida is shoved with other Ukrainian children into a cattle car and taken to Germany.
There, a woman says to the children, be useful or they will die. Lida has no idea how she can be useful until she notices a loose button on a commander’s shirt. Lida is a seamstress and a good one at that. She is able to escape hard labor by working in the laundry and cleaning sheets as well as mending clothing from the officers and others.
However, this time doesn’t last, and Lida knows that her life and the lives of all the other captured children are in danger all the time. The war is coming to an end, and the Allies are constantly bombing. When Lida gets taken from the laundry and sent to make bombs, she wonders if she’ll have the nerve to sabotage them in some way.
Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Skrypuch tells the story of a little known fact that civilian children and adults were taken from countries that the Germans invaded during WWII to work as slaves in their factories and in other locations. With so many people dying during the war, human labor became a premium needed to keep the war going. Very young children, generally under the age of 12, were often killed rather than put to work. It was believed they were too young to do much help. Many children lied about their ages to protect their lives.
Recommended for ages 6th grade and up.