Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow. Scholastic Inc.:New York, 2005. ISBN: 0439353793
This book is very unlike any other WWII book out there. This is about the youth who grew up in Germany under the reign of the Nazi’s. The book follows the stories of 12 children, most of them Nazis. Seeing how each child found their way mixed into the holocaust is very interesting. Would they have thought differently if certain events hadn’t happened? I loved getting to see the world from the views of the kids, all very different experiences.
This book has a lot going for it. I love the description of all the people in the book that’s at the very beginning. She goes through and gives a small little bio of each child and the role they played in the war. She then goes through their lives in great detail as she goes through the book. It was very interesting to read. And while there’s a lot of text, I think it works fine, as it’s intended for older youth. Besides, it’s interesting enough to be dense.
Accompanying the book are photographs of the children. It makes it more real (as much as nonfiction can be more real). Usually, these types of things, especially when you didn’t experience them, seem almost fictional. You know it really happened, but you can’t quite wrap your brain around it. Seeing the photographs emphasizes that these were real kids who were involved in very dangerous, life threatening situations.
The Epilogue ties everything together. It’s crazy to see how most of them went on to live relatively normal lives.
This was a great book, and I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in WWII and the Holocaust.
From School Library Journal: “The final chapter superbly summarizes the weighty significance of this part of the 20th century and challenges young readers to prevent history from repeating itself. Bartoletti lets many of the subjects’ words, emotions, and deeds speak for themselves, bringing them together clearly to tell this story unlike anyone else has.”
From Booklist: “The handsome book design, with black-and-white historical photos on every double-page spread, will draw in readers and help spark deep discussion, which will extend beyond the Holocaust curriculum. The extensive back matter is a part of the gripping narrative.”
From Publishers Weekly: “Bartoletti (Kids on Strike!) offers a unique and riveting perspective on WWII by focusing on the young people who followed Hitler from 1933-1945….Bartoletti’s portrait of individuals within the Hitler Youth who failed to realize that they served “a mass murderer” is convincing, and while it does not excuse the atrocities, it certainly will allow readers to comprehend the circumstances that led to the formation of Hitler’s youngest zealots.”
Other Books by Susan Campbell Bartoletti:
They Call Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group ISBN: 061844033x
Growing Up in Coal Country ISBN: 0395979145
The Boy Who Dared ISBN: 9780439680134
Other books on child soldiers:
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah ISBN: 0374531269
Child Soldiers (Global Veiwpoints) by Candice Mancini ISBN:0737748400