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Category: World War II
  • Through years of starvation, illness, and fear, the women continued to work together as a nursing unit, caring for thousands of people imprisoned with them.

    In 1942, 77 American Army and Navy nurses were captured by the Japanese, marking the beginning of what would become one of the greatest, yet little known, stories of heroism and sacrifice during World War II. Incredibly, every single woman survived three long years of starvation, illness, and fear as prisoners of war, all while continuing to work as a nursing unit, providing medical care to the thousands of people imprisoned alongside them. "They were a tough bunch. They had a mission," says Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Cantrell, an historian with the Army Nurse Corps. "They were surviving for the boys… and each other. That does give you a bit of added strength." Continue reading Continue reading

  • "Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"

    "Laws change. Conscience doesn't." — Sophie Scholl

    When Sophie Scholl was born to a German family in Forchtenberg on May 9, 1921, nobody could have expected that she would give her life at age 21 for her anti-Nazi resistance work. Scholl was a key member of the White Rose, a student resistance group in Munich, and remains one of Germany's great dissenting heroes of the World War II. Despite that, few people outside of Germany know of her name or of the courage that allowed her to face death rather than give up her belief in what was right.

    Today, we're sharing Sophie's story, as well as a selection of books for readers of all ages that explore her heroic story, the White Rose, and her impact on history in more depth. Her bravery and sacrifice is a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up against injustice, hatred, and tyranny, even at great personal cost. Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books about the Holocaust for children and teens in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

    “Silence helps the oppressors.” — Leslie Meisels, Hungarian Holocaust survivor

    Each year during Holocaust Remembrance Week, we take time to remember those who died — and those who survived — during the infamous Nazi regime. It is a difficult topic for any of us, but particularly difficult to discuss with children. How do you talk about something so beyond most children’s contemplation in a way that respects the experience of those who lived it?

    Here at A Mighty Girl, we are marking Holocaust Remembrance Week with two blog posts. This post will introduce you to books for all ages that talk about the Holocaust from a variety of perspectives. These books range from picture books to novels, memoirs to fiction, but all of them treat this challenging subject with care and dignity. Our follow-up post, Hope in a Hidden Room: A Mighty Girl Salutes Anne Frank, focuses on Anne Frank, whose diary chronicling the emotional life of a girl in the midst of the Holocaust puts a personal face on what can otherwise seem like distant history to a child growing up today. Continue reading Continue reading

  • "If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?" -- Jane Haining

    When Jane Haining was given the opportunity to escape the Nazi invasion of Budapest, she refused to abandon the Jewish girls in her care, ultimately giving her life to protect her young charges. Haining, who worked as a matron at a school run by the Church of Scotland, also helped many Jewish Hungarians and refugees emigrate to Britain during the war. She remains one of few Scottish people honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for her aid to Jewish people during the Holocaust, and is believed to be the only Scottish person to die in one of the Nazis' concentration camps. This year, Hungary dedicated its annual torchlight March of the Living — held on April 14 as a tribute to the estimated 565,000 Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust — to Haining's memory, honoring her for her devotion to the girls she sought to protect. "If these children need me in days of sunshine," she wrote in 1944, "how much more do they need me in days of darkness?" Continue reading Continue reading

  • Corrie ten Boom and her family helped 800 people fleeing the Nazis by hiding them in their home.

    In the midst of the Nazi occupation of Holland, an unassuming woman — the country's first female watchmaker — had a secret: a hidden room where Jewish refugees could stay as they fled the dangerous regime. Corrie ten Boom and her family worked with the Dutch Resistance, and their home became known as "De Schuilplaats" or "The Hiding Place," where hundreds of people found shelter in 1943 and 1944. Today, it's estimated that ten Boom, her family, and other members of the 'BeJe group' saved the lives of 800 Jews and other refugees. Ten Boom's father and sister both died while imprisoned by the Nazis, but despite it all, she never regretted what her family had done: "The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration," she asserted, "but its donation." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Irena Sendler led a secret operation to successfully smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, saving them from almost certain death

    One of the great heroes of WWII led a secret operation to successfully smuggle 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, saving them from almost certain death — yet until recently, few people had heard Irena Sendler's incredible story. This Polish Catholic nurse and social worker defied the Nazis at great personal risk, and nearly paid the ultimate price for her courageous actions. And even when she was tortured by the Gestapo, she never told them the names or locations of the children she had rescued. Her story is one of tremendous moral fortitude and the determination to fight evil, no matter the cost. Continue reading Continue reading

  • "Agent Rose" rescued over 100 British and American pilots shot down during WWII.

    As Europe was consumed by war, a young woman running a beauty salon would become a major figure in the French Resistance of World War II. Andrée Peel, who was known as "Agent Rose," was one of the most highly decorated woman to survive the war and helped save countless lives, including over 100 British and American pilots shot down over France. "At that time we were all putting our lives in danger but we did it because we were fighting for freedom," she later recalled. "It was a terrible time but looking back I am so proud of what I did and I'm glad to have helped defend the freedom of our future generations." Continue reading Continue reading

  • 15 Trailblazing Female Wartime Heroes Who Belong in the History Books

    women-in-wartime-blog-websiteOften, the popular image of women in wartime is worried wives, girlfriends, sisters, and daughters, pining at home for the men they love who are risking their lives on the battlefield. The reality, though, is much different! Women have always made significant contributions to war efforts -- both on the homefront and on the front lines. While women's contributions at home, especially during WWII, have become more widely known, the stories of their heroism on the battlefield are rarely told. In every war there have been women who dared to spy across enemy lines; treat wounded soldiers in the midst of the fighting; report from the front as journalists, and fight shoulder to shoulder with their male peers. And although we don't hear of them often, women also fought for an equally important cause: peace.

    In this blog post, we're sharing stories of remarkable women from the Hundred Years' War to World War II. These women were spies, resisters, rescuers, medics, journalists, soldiers, and peacemakers; they risked as much and acted as bravely as their more renowned male counterparts. While a few of these figures were famous in their own times, their stories have faded in the years since, and most were little known or disregarded, even as they committed remarkable acts of heroism. Today, we can finally give them their due -- and marvel at their incredible stories, which prove that truth is often far more exciting than fiction!

    If you'd like to learn more about any of the featured women or introduce them to children and teens, after each profile we've shared several reading recommendations for both children and adults, as well as other resources that celebrate these remarkable women.

    For more stories of inspiring women, check out the other two blog posts in our Mighty Girl Heroes blog series, Guardians of the Planet: 10 Women Environmentalists You Should Know and Those Who Dared to Discover: 15 Women Scientists You Should Know. Continue reading Continue reading

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