Social Justice Stories

building compassion, tolerance, and responsible citizenship through social justice narratives

The Underground Reporters

by Kathy Kacer

In Budejovice, a quiet village in Czechoslovakia, laws and rules were introduced to restrict the freedom of Jewish people during the dark days of World War II. A small plot of land by the river was allocated to the village's Jewish youth. While almost all other areas of the village were off limits to the children, here they were able to meet and play.

A small shack on this land became the community center - a place to escape from persecution and discrimination. And it was here that some brave young people decided to create a newspaper, a magazine that would prove to themselves and their community that they were still creative, energetic, and adventurous. The magazine, Klepy (which means Gossip), was born on August 30, 1940, and over the following two years, twenty-two issues were created and circulated. The magazine included simple type-written stories, elaborate paintings, and editorials, all created in the midst of war.

John Freund was one of the young "reporters" who contributed to the magazine. In April 1942, John and the other one thousand Jews of Budejovice were deported to the ghetto, Terezin. Most of these deportees were immediately sent on to Auschwitz and to their deaths. John was among a handful of Budejovic Jews who survived the war. He currently lives in Toronto. Remarkably, copies of Klepy also survived.

The Underground Reporters chronicles the lives of the young people who contributed to the newspaper. The story is full of adventure, mystery and excitement. With drawings, poems, stories and jokes, The Underground Reporters looks at life with as much optimism as possible, providing hope for a peaceful world to come.