How does the Bavarian farmer help the children in the story? Is he a good citizen or a kind-hearted man?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hello! When the Bavarian farmer discovers the children in his barn one July morning, he is not surprised. Kurt Wolff tells Ruth, Bronia, Edek, and Jan that they are not the first Polish refugees he has found in his barn. He tells them that he is not really supposed to help refugees like them: after all, he is supposed to report their presence to the Burgomaster. The Burgomaster's job is to make sure that all Polish and Ukrainian refugees are sent back to Poland on American army trucks.

When the Burgomaster discovers that Kurt is hiding Polish refugee children, he tells him in no uncertain terms that he has to hand the children over. The Burgomaster warns the children not to try to escape and that a truck will come for them the next day at noon. After the Burgomaster leaves, Kurt suddenly remembers the canoes that belonged to his sons. He tells the children that if they stay to the middle of the River Falken, they will be safe. Kurt's unselfish hospitality and his generosity in giving the children the canoes enable the children's escape. Instead of being sent back to Poland, they are able to eventually make their way to Switzerland.

So, is Kurt a good citizen or a kind-hearted man? As for being a good citizen, it depends on one's perspective. If you were a German Nazi sympathizer or a German soldier, you might not think so. However, if you were Polish, like the children, you would agree that Kurt was a man with a conscience. He is no doubt also a kind-hearted man. Both Kurt and his wife lost their soldier sons at war. The elder son was killed in North Africa and the younger son was killed while fighting to keep the Russians out of Warsaw. Having lost both beloved sons, the Wolffs know about senseless deaths; in helping refugees, they manage to hold onto their humanity and a sense of purpose.

Thanks for the question.

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