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Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow…

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow (2005)

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

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Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s nonfiction book, Hitler Youth, provides a fascinating in-depth portrayal of life for children growing up in Nazi Germany. At times the book is disturbing as it describes the systematic brainwashing of German youth and the children who went to such extremes in their devotion to Hitler, such as even turning in their own parents for denouncing Nazis. At other times the book was uplifting as it described the stories of children like the Scholl siblings who risked everything and sacrificed their lives in their efforts to educate the public and take a stand against the Nazi government.

The book is somewhat chronological but each chapter organizes the information presented in the book into topics, such as “Hitler’s Rise to Power” and the “Nazi Persecution of Jews.” At the beginning of the book, Bartoletti introduces the young people that she writes about in this book. She gives a brief description of their connection with Hitler Youth and Nazi Germany. Rather than organizing the book topically and introducing each child’s story as an individual chapter, the author weaves the stories of the children’s lives throughout the narrative. At the end of the book, Bartoletti also includes an epilogue titled, “What became of the young people in this book,” where she provides the reader with details about the individuals’ lives post-Nazi Germany and provides some closure for the reader. In the author’s note, Bertoletti discusses the magnitude of research she had to conduct in order to write this book. Her extensive bibliography, quote sources, and “about the photographs” section demonstrate the immense quantity and quality of research that went into the book. Bartoletti conducted personal, phone, and email interviews in order to include direct quotes from Hitler Youth and children growing up in Nazi Germany in order paint a vivid picture of what life was like for these young people. The quotes help the reader understand the mindset of these children, the brainwashing of Hitler Youth, and the deception of the Nazi government.

“I was prepared to struggle for, to kill, and if necessary to die for my Fuhrer and country,” said Henry Metelmann. “While my parents worried about the threatening clouds of war, I believed my Hitler Youth teaching that war was a necessary cleansing process for the human race.”

I also read The Boy Who Dared, which is also written by Bartoletti, but is a fictional story based on the life Helmuth Hubener, one of the Hitler Youth that she included in her nonfiction book. While her nonfiction book does not go into much detail about Hubener’s life, it describes his resistance towards the Nazi Party and his efforts to inform the German people that their government was lying to them about the state of the war. In the nonfiction book, Bartoletti includes about five pages that tell the story of Hubener’s impact, bravery, and resulting execution. In The Boy Who Dared, Bartoletti uses her imagination to create a fictional story around the research she conducted about Helmuth Hubener’s true story and impact. Both stories do a great job of capturing the level of fear and oppression that young children faced in Nazi Germany, as well as tell the story of the incredibly brave young people who stood up against injustice. ( )
  ssmithers | Apr 23, 2017 |
This was a Newberry Honor book and a Robert F. Sibert Honor book. I was blown away with the photos in this book. The most interesting fact I learned was about the Duty Year. Prior to reading this book I didn't know that young men and women all across Germany were required to work for a year in the factories. After the eighth grade boys and girls were also sent to farms to help in what was called the Country Year. This nonfiction book goes chronologically through World War I with a focus on Germany.
  mercedeslillian | Mar 18, 2017 |
Students of any grade to write as if they are going to interview a former Hitler Youth member, like Bartoletti did. Students will write down any questions they would ask, and any comments that they have on the information given in the book and why they think/feel that way. Older students, such as fourth or fifth graders, could compare and contrast the life of a child their age in Hitler Youth to their own lives. They could compare and contrast their clothes, what they'd do in their free time, who they could be friends with, etc.
  kkminime | Mar 13, 2017 |
I could have done without the introductory cast of characters - it wasted a lot of time. It would have been much better to meet them organically within their own stories, but whatever. It was a fascinating, oft-overlooked bit about the Holocaust and Second World War and I'd love to learn more about the Hitler Youth. ( )
  benuathanasia | Feb 23, 2017 |
Chilling. Harrowing. Powerful. These words seem to be cliché at this point in reference to any recollections on the Holocaust or Nazi Germany. Sadly though, they are still accurate. Author Susan Campbell Bartoletti uses eye-witness accounts to ground a concept and bring into harsh reality a situation that, for many, is difficult to imagine. Instead of reducing the text to simplified attacks on an entire people and generation, the horror of Nazi Germany is brought to life through the eyes of its children. Weaving into the story the personal accounts of twelve children and their experiences, Campbell recreates life in pre-war and war-torn Germany, exploring the origins and progression of Hitler's rise to power, the Hitler Youth, Nazi propaganda, and the Holocaust. Following a roughly chronological order, each chapter focuses on a different theme, progressively showing the effects of hatred as national policy. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow would be a great source for any unit on World War II, the Holocaust, resistance, sacrifice, and the weak--in this case, children--being influenced by or standing up to their aggressors. Enhanced with a variety of poignant and pertinent photographs, the reality of war is not sugarcoated, and some elements may be considered questionable for younger readers. For anyone interested in history, this is a fascinating read--a cautionary tale regarding the power of propaganda, youth, and National Socialism. ( )
  sgudan | Feb 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Gr 5-8-Hitler's plans for the future of Germany relied significantly on its young people, and this excellent history shows how he attempted to carry out his mission with the establishment of the Hitler Youth, or Hitlerjugend, in 1926. With a focus on the years between 1933 and the end of the war in 1945, Bartoletti explains the roles that millions of boys and girls unwittingly played in the horrors of the Third Reich. The book is structured around 12 young individuals and their experiences, which clearly demonstrate how they were victims of leaders who took advantage of their innocence and enthusiasm for evil means. Their stories evolve from patriotic devotion to Hitler and zeal to join, to doubt, confusion, and disillusion. (An epilogue adds a powerful what-became-of-them relevance.) The large period photographs are a primary component and they include Nazi propaganda showing happy and healthy teens as well as the reality of concentration camps and young people with large guns. 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.-Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
added by sriches | editSchool Library Journal, Andrew Medlar (Jul 22, 2009)
Yes, the Hitler youth is mentioned in most young adult nonfiction on the subject, but to see through this lens creates a completely different book! Bartoletti is quickly becoming a nonfiction writer who tops lists with her engaging writing, viewpoint, obvious dedication to research and knowledge of how important pictures are to the telling for this audience. Her book is filled with chilling quotes, anecdotal stories derived from research and interviews, and stories about how Hitler's young were manipulated and used as a primary source of his power and vision for the future. There are many facts revealed that may be new to readers. For example, the required year of service after graduation, the Landjahr, required youth do everything from clearing forests to shoveling "gravel through sieves for seven full hours" and by 1938 "the Reich Labor Service has turned so many acres of forests and swamps into useful land that it made up for nearly all the territory Germany had lost in the Treaty of Versailles." The author threads through the pages the stories of young heroes who stood up against Hitler, such as Sophie and Hans Scholl who wrote and distributed pamphlets until they were executed. 2005, Scholastic, Ages 11 up.
added by sriches | editChildren's Literature, Susie Wilde (Jul 22, 2009)
Bartoletti (Kids on Strike!) offers a unique and riveting perspective on WWII by focusing on the young people who followed Hitler from 1933-1945. The narrative primarily focuses on members of the Hitler Youth, but also profiles some of the group's dissidents and its Jewish targets. Hitler began his quest for dominance with young people, recognizing them as "a powerful political force" and claiming, "With them I can make a new world." Bartoletti describes how the propaganda of the Hitler Youth attracted children: "The overnight camping trips, campfires, and parades sounded like a great deal of fun," said one 12-year-old. But the organization also emphasized loyalty to the Third Reich above all (including family-one eight-year-old, Elisabeth Vetter, turned in her parents to the Nazis). The author personalizes the war by placing identifiable individuals at the center of the events, such as Sophie Scholl, who moved away from Nazi ideas as a teen and in college joined the "White Rose" group that published pamphlets detailing Nazi evils and urging resistance-a crime for which she and others were executed. Powerful black-and-white photographs testify to the lure and also the cruelty of the Nazis. 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. Ages 7-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
added by sriches | editPublishers Weekly, Reed Business Information (Jul 22, 2009)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439353793, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

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The story of a generation of German young people who devoted all their energy to the Hitler Youth and the propaganda that brought gave Hitler his power, and the youths that resisted the Nazi movement.

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