Number the Stars is set in 1943 in Copenhagen. King Christian X of Denmark surrendered his land to the German invaders in 1940 because Denmark's army was small and any attempt to match military might with the Nazis would have resulted in destruction and suffering. Even after Copenhagen is occupied by the Nazis, the king continues his habit of riding his horse through the streets of the city every morning, without benefit of a bodyguard. When a Nazi soldier asks a young boy where the king's bodyguards are, the boy replies that all of Denmark is the king's bodyguard. Later, when it becomes apparent that the Nazis plan to relocate the country's Jews, Annemarie says, "Now I think that all of Denmark must be the bodyguard for the Jews, as well."
Across a narrow straight from Denmark is Sweden, which has not yet been invaded by the Nazis. The Johansens' efforts to smuggle Ellen and her family to Sweden in Number the Stars accurately reflect the actions of countless Danes who helped their Jewish neighbors escape the country during World War II.
(The entire section is 180 words.)