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.