Hidden Yellow Stars

Written by Rebecca Connolly
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

This novel starts in September 1942 in Brussels, when a young schoolteacher, Andrée Geulen, helps her students remove their jackets with the hated yellow star sewn on to identify them as Jews. Although she is not Jewish herself, Andrée is violently opposed to the persecution the children are experiencing since the Nazis invaded Belgium. After a few weeks, the headmistress of Andrée’s school introduces her to Ida Sterno, a Jewish woman working for a Belgian resistance group called the Committee for the Defense of Jews. Their goal is to place in hiding as many Belgian Jewish children as possible and save them from the Nazis.

Together, Andrée and Ida form an inseparable bond, working for over two years to circumvent Nazi soldiers and hide Jewish children in convent schools or private farms throughout Belgium. While Andrée looks Aryan with her light-colored hair, Ida’s features are darker, and eventually, the Nazis arrest her. Andrée continues their work using an elaborate notebook system. She records each child’s original and new name as they go into hiding with the hopes of being reunited with family once the war ends.

The two protagonists of this novel, Andrée and Ida, were real women. Without giving away the ending, I can repeat the historical fact that their work and the Committee for the Defense of Jews helped almost 3,000 Belgian Jewish children to survive the Nazi occupation of WWII. My only slight disappointment was that the quotes of Nazi propaganda that started each chapter became too repetitive. The book, however, is well worth reading.