Why is the handkerchief in the packet so important, and what would have happened if Annemarie had not gotten the handkerchief to Uncle Henrik in Number the Stars?

The handkerchief in the packet is so important in Number the Stars because it helps to save the lives of Jewish refugees. It is coated with a special drug that deprives the dogs used by the Nazis of their sense of smell. This means that the Germans are unable to find anyone hidden aboard the boat.

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The Germans have trained dogs to sniff out the scent of anyone hiding aboard boats. Naturally, this spells potential disaster for the Jewish refugees that Uncle Henrik and his friends have been smuggling across to Sweden.

However, after consulting with some scientists, Henrik has come up with a way to...

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The Germans have trained dogs to sniff out the scent of anyone hiding aboard boats. Naturally, this spells potential disaster for the Jewish refugees that Uncle Henrik and his friends have been smuggling across to Sweden.

However, after consulting with some scientists, Henrik has come up with a way to throw the Germans' dogs off the scent. The scientists have devised a special drug that deprives dogs of their ability to smell. If the handkerchief is on board the boat, then the dogs won't be able to find anyone, and the lives of those Jews hiding there will be saved.

Thankfully, Annemarie managed to deliver the chemical-coated handkerchief to Uncle Henrik just in the nick of time. Because not long after she gave it to him, the Germans turned up with their dogs to search the boat. Thanks to the presence of the handkerchief they were unable to find anyone.

But had the handkerchief not been there, the consequences for those hiding aboard the boat would've been catastrophic. They would've been arrested by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp along with so many other Jewish prisoners. It's no exaggeration, then, to say that this little handkerchief has been a real life-saver.

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