Chilling History Lessons: Hitler Youth

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
By Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Scholastic, 2005.

Fascinating and similar in tone and writing style to

Darkness Over Denmark

. Both take the individual stories from this horrid time in history and weave them into a steady and powerful narrative. I found myself caught up in the history—like that Hitler coming to power after the great depression meant a world-wide work shortage and tight immigration quotas so that the Jews who might have otherwise escaped to friendly countries couldn’t.

  • Little different from fiction in that a visual image is painted with detail (none of it superfluous). 
  • Shows so clearly that the Germans being satisfied with simple answers seems childlike because those driving Hitler’s movement were indeed children. The children weren’t trained to think, rather to obey. Reason was set aside entirely. 
  • Several stories within stuck with me: Aktion T4, the top secret program to kill physically and mentally disabled people, and White Rose, the group of students who published the truth. Ultimately the group was caught and beheaded. Also the description on page 146 of the young soldiers, captured now, being led into a liberated concentration camp. Inmates flanked the boys, ghastly, like wraths. 
  • The key quote on page 149: “... the children and teenagers of the Third Reich had been betrayed, deserted, and sacrificed by a party and a regime that had used them to attain power.” 
  • Fabulous details in a straightforward narrative.