Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

This is based on the true story of Helmuth Hubener, a Morman youth who lived in Hitler's Germany.  Individual freedoms have been stripped away including the option of listening to or reading anything that is not approved by the Nazis. In this way, Hitler is able to feed Germany his propaganda and squash outside ideas that would betray him.  By illegally listening to a shortwave radio, Helmuth discovers there is more going on in Europe than Hitler wants Germans to know.  He can't stay silent and decides to share the truth with others.  But it may cost him his life. 

I liked this book.  Personally, I learned more about Nazi Germany by reading this book than though my textbook in high school.  One reason I liked this book is because it showed me average Germans.  The other books I've read about World War II Germany have been about the Nazi soldiers terrorizing other countries.  (Number the Stars, Stones in Water, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) It's so easy to categorize Germans as evil.  However this book showed me that the Nazis were terrorizing their own countrymen, and that the average German cannot be grouped with the Nazi Regime.  The Germans lived under hard conditions, heard Hitler promise jobs for all and prosperity, and believed that he was going to help their country.  Hitler got the people on his side and fed them a heavy diet of propaganda.  The Germans did not know his true motives.  For example they understood that he hated Jews, but they didn't know that he planned to exterminate them.  Also, the book showed that even when Germans discovered truth, the Gestapo would arrest and torture them to shut them up.  I already knew that Jews rejoiced when Allied forces freed them from their concentration camps, but now I understand that when Hitler fell, Germany was released from it's own prison.

This book is a great starting place for a discussion on Nazi Germany and a good companion read for your student studying WWII.  It also goes well with Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli.  My review of it is here.  Both of these books have deepened my knowledge of World War II.


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