The Silver Sword Background

The Silver Sword Background

The Silver Sword is a children's novel written in 1959 by British author Ian Serrallier. It is widely considered to be a children's classic.

Although the characters in the book are fictitious, the story is based on fact. Serrallier did a great deal of research into the military side of the story and his description of Russia's Red Army marching into Poland is based on eye witness accounts given in a book called "East Wind Over Prague" by J. Strasky. The book is set in wartime Poland after invasion by the German army. The Poles put up a strong defence of their country but were overcome by the army of the Reich. Once they invaded, the Germans demanded the same respect and adoration of Adolf Hitler that they required from their own people and it was contravening this demand and turning Hitler's picture to the wall that caused Joseph Balicki to be imprisoned.

Within an hour of their mother being taken away by the Germans the Balicki children were without their parents and their home, since the Germans burned their house to the ground. By sticking together as a family and focussing on the day when they would reach Switzerland and be reunited with their parents, the children undertake a seemingly impossible journey through three countries aided by the kindness and bravery of strangers.

Ian Serrallier was a teacher for many years before becoming a children's author. His main interest was creating lifelike relatable characters for children to feel invested in, and although the Balicki children are never idealized they are genuine, courageous characters who achieve the impossible.

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