Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell (2005). Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler's Shadow. New York: Scholastic Nonfiction, 176 pages.

Bartoletti tells the story of the Hitler Youth program from its inception until the fall of the Reich. Using personal accounts from from various boys and girls, she tells the stories of those of both those supported and resisted Hitler.

I listened to this book. The narrator had good intonation and pronounced all the German names and phrases correctly - which is more than I can say for Bartoletti whose accent was painful for me a German speaker. She did clearly define all difficult concepts and words. The book is informative for more than just youth. The writing was sophisticated and not patronizing. Bartoletti did her research and used real accounts of soldiers who destroyed Allie tanks, students who opposed the Reich, and even average members of the Hitler Youth.

The book shed light on aspects of the Third Reich secondary to the Hitler Youth, but it still fit. For example, propaganda explained Kristallnacht as a spontaneous reaction to the murder of an official by a Jew. In reality it was a planned attack against the Jews. Also, the government forced the Jews to pay for all the damage. The German news announced that Hitler died fighting on the front lines in the Battle of Berlin rather than the true story. These lies were linked to the films and propaganda that the Hitler Youth were educated with. To reeducate the soldiers and youth raised as Anti-Semites, the showed the Germans films of footage from the concentration camps. Many of them were difficult to convince that the man who they fought for was a mass murderer.

Overall this was an excellent book that was sensitively written and hit on what I think are the major aspects of being young during the Third Reich.

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