Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hitler Youth:Growing up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

From goodreads: 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.

The book is based on first-hand accounts of a dozen young men and women who were part of the Hitler Youth Organization. I loved this book, and how it focused on the generation of young men and women who were indoctrinated by Hitler. I loved that this book was written to show a more behind the scenes look. I appreciated the detail it went into, while assuming the reader already knew many of the events during World War II. I loved the pictures and quotes from interviews. It was interesting that most youth, at the beginning, joined to make Germany a better place, to feel accepted, or for the adventure. I was surprised at how deep their indoctrination was. They got it everywhere, from school (with re-written text books) to Hitler Youth meetings. I always wondered how Rolf on The Sound of Music could be so heartless. Now I understand a little more how he could believe the way he did. What a scary time and place to live in.

I was also surprised by the diversity of jobs the youth were assigned to, and how early they were trained to be soldiers. Those kids were worked hard, digging trenches, clearing away rubble, and even becoming Flak helpers. It was a little scary to see how fearless and fanatical these boys were as soldiers, and how they weren’t afraid to die for Hitler.

The events depicted in this book are ones we should never forget. I will definitely be sharing this with my family. I appreciated this story. It made me wonder of my own fate and choices had I lived in Germany during this time period.

Rating: 4.5
Age: 9+

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