Making Bombs for Hitler

Written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

At the beginning of this story, nine-year-old Lida is separated from her younger sister and taken to a Nazi work camp. Lida lies about her age, hearing that it is safer to be older and “useful.” Her talent with thread and needle gains her a job as a seamstress, but she eventually ends up doing factory work: making bombs and bullets. Many of the Ukrainians, Poles, Russians and anti-Nazi Germans kept for slave labor died from over-work, accidents, malnutrition, and Allied bombing raids. Lida’s life is difficult and full of danger. She makes friends with other young prisoners and constantly worries about her sister.

Making Bombs for Hitler is an exciting read, filled with suspense and led by a sympathetic protagonist. Lida is courageous, selfless and forgiving. There are many books about the horrors Jewish people endured during WWII; this one covers the lesser-known horrors faced by Ukrainian Christians and others forced into slavery by the Nazis.

The story has a few small problems. I was sometimes surprised by the time of day and the season—references to these were either not often enough or not consistent. Also, a few times Lida remembers something about candy and a Nazi woman, related somehow to why she and her sister were captured and separated. I could not find that scene, and Lida’s memories are not fully informed flashbacks. More information about Lida’s past—such as her grandmother, the candy, and how and when she left Ukraine—are needed. It felt like an integral scene was accidentally deleted. Nevertheless, this is a good addition to children’s novels on World War II.