These two books are my favorite fiction/nonfiction companion books, so I wanted to share them with you together.
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Published April 1st, 2005 by Scholastic Nonfiction
Goodreads Summary: In her first full-length nonfiction title since winning the Robert F. Sibert Award, Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores the riveting and often chilling story of Germany’s powerful Hitler Youth groups.
“I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world.” –Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933
By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany’s young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.
My Review: During World War II, Hitler controlled more than just the military; he controlled the entire country of Germany. Much of what this book explains are parts of the WWII history that is not taught in our schools and shows the true extent of the power that Hitler had over everyone.
The Hitler Youth began as a voluntary organization to support Hitler, but it quickly became a way for Hitler to control the youth. Soon the Hitler Youth was not voluntary and they were being used in much the same way as the military.
This book tells true stories of children in the Hitler Youth and children that were brave enough to speak up. It is truly horrific and fascinating. Susan Campbell Bartoletti uses a combination of narrative and expository writing to take her reader on a journey through Nazi controlled Germany starting with their depression and taking us through the the end of World War II. By intertwining true stories of the youth of Germany with historical fact, Bartoletti pulls at your heart strings and shows the true effect that Hitler had on the entire nation. It also takes you through the steps that Hitler took to brainwash the entire population, starting with the most desperate citizens, including the youth.
Although many nonfiction books are hard to get through and are dry, this one has a voice to it that is deeper and more sensitive than most. You become connected to the people of Germany and the youth of the story, so it doesn’t matter if that I already know the outcome- you have to know how they make it out of their deceit filled situation.
The Boy Who Dared
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Published February 1st, 2008 by Scholastic Press
Goodreads Summary: Bartoletti has taken one episode from her Newbery Honor Book, HITLER YOUTH, and fleshed it out into thought-provoking novel. When 16-year-old Helmut Hubner listens to the BBC news on an illegal short-wave radio, he quickly discovers Germany is lying to the people. But when he tries to expose the truth with leaflets, he’s tried for treason. Sentenced to death and waiting in a jail cell, Helmut’s story emerges in a series of flashbacks that show his growth from a naive child caught up in the patriotism of the times , to a sensitive and mature young man who thinks for himself.
My Review: Helmuth Hubener thought that Hitler was going to fix Germany, but the longer Hitler was in power, the more Helmuth realized that there was social injustice happening.
Based on a true story, The Boy Who Dared, accounts Helmuth’s life and the choices he makes. Told in flashback, I felt that some of the suspense is taken away since you know Helmuth’s current situation right from the beginning of the story; however, even with knowing the outcome, I wanted to read to figure out how Helmuth got there.
The exposition of the book helped me understand the extent of Helmuth’s society at the time which made me even more sympathetic then I would have been just jumping into Helmuth’s life. Although we all know about World War II and the Holocaust, unless you have read other books on World War II Germany, you may not understand the extent of Hitler’s power and brainwashing. With The Boy Who Dared, we follow Helmuth through his feelings about Hitler and the decisions he made.
This book is fabulous to read with the nonfiction book by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Hitler Youth, which recounts the history around the Hitler Youth and what Helmuth was living through.
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Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: If I taught a grade level where the Holocaust or WWII was taught in history, I would love to use these books supplementally in English class. These books tell a story within WWII that isn’t normally taught in history and really shines a light on a different side of the story. It would be a great way to discuss point of view, persuasion, and propaganda. I can also see these being used in thematic sets and then in lit circles. Each book adds to a whole look at WWII.
Discussion Questions: After reading both books, why was Hitler able to manipulate and affect the youth of Germany the way he did?; How did Helmuth affect those around him? History?
We Flagged: “The dark streets were already flooded with thousands of excited people, who, like Melita, were running out to watch the victory parade in honor of Adolf Hitler… Melita couldn’t understand why her parents didn’t support a great man like Adolf Hitler, who said that a person’s money and titles didn’t matter. All that mattered was whether a person contributed to the well-being of the people.” (Hitler Youth p. 15-16)
“It’s morning. Soft gray lights slips over the tall redbrick wall. It stretches across the exercise yard and reaches through the high, barred windows. In a cell on the ground floor, the light shifts dark shapes into a small stool, a scrawny table, and a bed made of wooden boards with no mattress or blanket. On that bed, a thin, huddled figure, Helmuth, a boy of seventeen, lies awake. Shivering. Trembling.
The executioner works on Tuesday.” (The Boy who Dared p. 1)
Read These If You Loved: Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayers, Alfons Heck & Helen Waterford, Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Resistance (series) by Carla Jablonski, London Calling by Edward Bloor, Once (series) by Morris Gleitzman, The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
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