DAVID'S JOURNEY (Illustration) Censorship Civil Rights Cold War Film Geography Social Studies Fiction World History Tragedies and Triumphs

At the end of an incredibly long journey, David reaches his destination.  In this image—a still shot from the film—we see Joan Plowright. To learn how she fits into the story, read the book and/or see the film.  Image, copyright Walden Media, all rights reserved.  Image provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the movie.


When David is twelve, a camp official helps him escape. Having feared the man his whole life, David believes there must be an ulterior motive - he just doesn’t know what it is.

Much later, when he is nearly safe, David learns the truth. The man he’d always hated had once loved his mother, and that love ultimately saves her boy.

Raised in a concentration camp, David knows nothing of the outside world. But Johannes has taught him about love and morality, and the men in the camp have taught him their languages (including English and Italian).

On the night he leaves the forced-labor camp, alone, David retrieves several items the commandant has hidden for him: a half-loaf of bread, a sealed letter, a compass.

The letter is for someone in Copenhagen, although David doesn’t know where Denmark is. The compass will help him get there, but David doesn’t know what a compass is. He knows only that he must first travel south before he can go north.

With bare feet, he sets out on an incredible, exhausting journey that will eventually take him through six countries: Bulgaria; Greece; Italy; Switzerland; Germany; and Denmark. As he discovers the real world, and learns about himself and others, David passes through many towns and cities.

  • Salonika (also known as Thessaloniki [or Thessalonica in Biblical times] is the second-largest city in Greece. To reach this busy seaport (where he will stowaway on a ship bound for Italy), David, still barefooted, runs/walks hundreds of miles! His ship likely passes through the Corinthian Canal (an important shortcut, through the Isthmus of Corinth, which was built in the late 19th century).

  • Naples, in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, remains one of Italy’s busiest seaports. Once a place where pasta dried on outdoor racks, it is not far from the town of Pompeii which Vesuvius destroyed in 79 A.D.

  • Perugia, an ancient Italian town, has roots which go back to pre-Roman times. It is located in Umbria, the only land-locked section of Italy.

  • Florence, once a place of desperation during the Black Death epidemic, is known today for its culture and artistic heritage. Called Firenze in Italian, it is also a busy city and very difficult to navigate.

  • Bologna, in northern Italy, is referred to as Bologna la Dotta (“Bologna the Learned”) since it is the site of Europe’s first university, founded in 1088. It is also called Bologna la Rossa (“Bologna the Red”) both for the color of its buildings and for its politics.

  • Milan (Milano in Italian) is today one of the fashion industry’s most important cities. Located in the section of Italy known as Lombardy, it remains a major tourist destination.

  • Lake Como, the town, was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 A.D. The lake is one of the deepest in Europe, plunging to 1,345 feet. Located in the hilly region of northeast Italy, Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

  • Mendrisio is a small town in Switzerland not far from the Italian border. It has a 9th century church, San Martino, located south of town.

  • Lugano - located in the southeastern part of Switzerland on Lake Lugano - is an Italian-speaking town in the canton (state) of Ticino.

  • Faido - a picturesque Swiss village in the Leventina Valley of the Alps - seems, to some people, more Italian than Swiss. Located 2,365 feet above sea level, Faido is a mountain-climber’s paradise with buildings dating back several centuries. Walking along Strada Alta (the High Road) one can see some of the other villages in the area which are accessible only by foot or non-motorized vehicles.

  • Lucerne - a gorgeous Swiss city located in the canton of Lucerne - is famous for its scenery and peaceful atmosphere. It is a city of bridges; one of the most famous - the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) - was built in 1333. Today the bridge has been restored after a fire greatly damaged it in 1993.

  • Basel, a Swiss city on the Rhine River, is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Close to the Swiss-German border, it combines modern buildings with old-world charm.

  • Frankfurt, known as a “West German” town during the Cold War, remains one of the most important cities in Europe. It is situated near the Main River and, with its churches (like the Cathedral of St. Bartholomeus) and its town hall (the Römer which was destroyed during World War II but rebuilt thereafter), still retains some of its medieval appearance.

  • Kolding, a charming Danish seaport, has an important history dating back to the Middle Ages. Its town hall, for example, was built in 1582. This is David’s last major stop before he reaches his final destination: Copenhagen.

  • Copenhagen, home of the famous Little Mermaid statue, is David’s final destination. There he finds his mother who, for all but the first year of her son’s life, has believed he was dead.

While Anne Holm’s story of David, refugee from a concentration camp, is fictional, his plight is shared by many real-life children faced with all kinds of desperate situations. The United Nations believes that at least 20 million people in today’s world have risked everything, including their lives, to escape poverty and the cruelty of tyrants.

David’s story has a happy ending. Would the same could be said of all the others!

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Mar 11, 2016

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"DAVID'S JOURNEY" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2004. Feb 27, 2020.
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