A young WWII gunner from the Prairies sees the horrors
of war firsthand when he is captured by the Gestapo.
Eighteen-year-old Sam Frederiksen has come a long way from the
Prairies. Trained to be a gunner in a Lancaster bomber during WWII,
he is shot down over France. Battered and bruised, he does survive,
and joins forces with the French Resistance... only to be betrayed
by one of its members. He and other flyers from various Allied
countries are rounded up by the Gestapo and held in Fresnes prison
just outside of Paris.
Treated as spies, rather than POWs, these men are beaten, some
tortured - then sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp in eastern
Germany. It is here, in these wretched conditions, that Sam
witnesses the darkest side of humanity - gas chambers, torture and
starvation. Yet it is also here that he comes to understand the
true resilience and unfathomable courage of the victims.
Author Carol Matas has won numerous awards for her previous
novels about the Holocaust. Behind Enemy Lines is
partially based on a true incident from WWII, in which 168 Allied
airmen were captured and sent to Buchenwald. Twenty-six of these
men were Canadian.