A Look at the “Number the Stars” Characters

Annemarie Johansen

Of all of the “Number the Stars” characters, Annemarie stands out as the most powerful. Annemarie, a ten-year-old girl, is the main character in “Number the Stars.” Growing up in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the rise of the Nazi regime, she becomes increasingly aware of the changes that the war is having on her day-to-day life. She thinks deeply about all matters, including the politics of the day, and she wishes to be brave – as brave as the king of Denmark, who she so admires. She is more fun-loving than her best friend, Ellen.

Ellen Rosen

Ellen grows up in the same world as her best friend, Annemarie, and yet her Jewish background affects the way that she views the war. Once an excellent academic student who enjoyed acting, Ellen has slowly become more and more fearful as it becomes clear that her family is in danger. She relies greatly on Annemarie for friendship, advice, and moral support.

Mr. and Mrs. Johansen

Annemarie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Johansen, show extreme courage in the novel by sheltering Ellen and helping her family to escape Denmark. Both are very strong and brave, and both rely on stories to calm the girls and help them to come to terms with their current reality.

Mr. and Mrs. Rosen

Ellen’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rosen, flee Denmark when they fear that the Nazis will overtake them. Although Mrs. Rosen fears the ocean, she overcomes her fear in order to flee with her family. Mrs. Johansen and Mrs. Rosen have been good friends before the novel begins.

Lise Johansen

Lise was Annemarie’s older sister, who died several years before the story begins. Later in the novel, it becomes clear that she was a member of the Resistance, and that she was killed by the Germans.

Peter Neilson

Peter was Lise’s fiancé before her death. He, too, was a member of the Resistance, and he often brings news to the Johansens about the war efforts. Peter also helps to reunite the Rosens with Ellen. Towards the end of the war, Annemarie learns that Peter was shot due to his Resistance activities.

Kirsti Johansen

Kirsti is Annemarie’s younger sister, who is five years old at the start of the novel. In her naiveté, she has no fear of the Germans or of the war, and she loves to hear stories of fantasy about kings and queens.


Henrik is Annemarie’s uncle, a fisherman who helps the Rosens escape to Sweden on his boat. He praises Annemarie for her bravery in bringing the handkerchief to him, and he shows bravery himself in taking part in the rescue mission.

These are the main “Number the Stars” characters who play important roles in the story. Through the choices that they make, they help Annemarie understand the importance of courage and friendship.

This post is part of the series: “Number the Stars” Study Guide

“Number the Stars,” by Lois Lowry, is an award-winning novel that takes place during World War II. This “Number the Stars” study guide can help you take apart the novel and understand the main ideas in the book.
  1. Main Events in “Number the Stars”: Basic Plot Summary
  2. “Number the Stars”: Characters List and Descriptions
  3. Important Vocabulary for “Number the Stars”