What is the beginning of "Number the Stars"?
Ellen Rosen and Annemarie Johansen are racing down the street when they are stopped by two German soldiers. The soldiers have been present in occupied Copenhagen for three years, but until today had been "simply part of the landscape...on every corner, as unimportant as lampposts". The soldiers ask them questions, then admonish them to go home and not to run, because "(they) look like hoodlums when (they) run". Mrs. Rosen and Mrs. Johansen are uneasy when Annemarie's little sister Kirsti reports what happened. The Germans are becoming more aggressive because of increased Resistance activity against them, and the mothers instruct the girls to come home by a different route tomorrow, because the soldiers will remember them, and the safest policy is to remain annonymous (Chapter 1).
Denmark's beloved King Christian X had decided not to resist when the Germans had threatened three years ago. Neighboring Norway had fought and been crushed, and Holland, Belgium, and France had been overrun as well. Only Sweden remains free, and in the intervening years, everything is different in Copenhagen. Annemarie's older sister Lise is dead, and all the adults are tired and worried and secretive. "The whole world (has) changed...only the fairy tales (remain) the same" (Chapter 2).