Great Illustrated Books

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Scholastic Nonfiction, 2005
Pages : 176
Suggested Ages: 12 and Up
ISBN: 9780439353793

Bartoletti won both a Newbery Honor and a Sibert Honor for her provocative, chilling exploration of the mass movement of children and teenagers who willingly or reluctantly joined Hitler Youth, the Nazi Party's organization formed in 1926. Starting with 15-year-old Herbert Norkus, whose murder by a gang of Communist youths in 1932 made him a martyr for the Nazis and helped them draw thousands more to their cause, Bartoletti's riveting text, accompanied by numerous black and white photographs, brings home the insidious way the Nazis indoctrinated their children into unquestioning obedience of the Third Reich. By 1939, there were more than 7 million members of the Hitler Youth. Based on many interviews the author conducted and through her meticulous research, she profiles a dozen German young people, following their stories from 1932 till the end of the war in 1945, and explores the resistance movement, the White Rose.

Parents and teachers will want to talk about the Nazi movement and World War II to provide further background on a time that seems like ancient history to today's teens. Your discussions can start with a quote in the Author's Note: "This book is my attempt to understand the role of young people during a devastating twelve-year period of history that changed our world forever. It is my attempt to make sense out of the fact that adults taught young people to hate, to kill, and to feel superior over others. After all, the Hitler Youth weren't born Nazis. They became Nazis." Could this happen again? Has this happened again?

Instead of wringing our hands when alienated teens look at Hitler and declare a hideous affinity, we can provide real information and insight with books that take a hard look at history, including the Sibert winner, The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler by James Cross Giblin. Bartoletti's new historical novel, The Boy Who Dared, is based on the life of Helmuth Hubener, the 17-year old boy executed by the Nazis in 1942 for his resistance activities, whom she first profiled in Hitler Youth. For background on the war years, The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won by Stephen E. Ambrose and Smoke & Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust by Barbara Rogasky are stellar.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Abels, Chana Byers. The Children We Remember. Greenwillow, 1986.

Ambrose, Stephen E. The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won. Athenuem, 2001.

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. The Boy Who Dared. Scholastic, 2008.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler. Trans. by Susan Massotty. Doubleday, 1995.

Giblin, James. The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. Clarion, 2002.

Ibbotson, Eva. The Dragonfly Pool. Dutton, 2008.

Kadohata, Cynthia. Weedflower. Atheneum, 2006.

Levine, Karen. Hana's Suitcase. Albert Whitman, 2003.

Maguire, Gregory. The Good Liar. Clarion, 1999.

McCann, Michelle R. Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen. Tricycle, 2003.

Millman, Isaac. Hidden Child. Farrar, 2005.

Poole, Josephine. Anne Frank. Knopf, 2005.

Reiss, Johanna. The Upstairs Room. HarperCollins, 1987.

Rogasky, Barbara. Smoke & Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust. Holiday, 2000.

Roy, Jennifer. Yellow Star. Marshall Cavendish, 2006.

Russo, Marisabina. Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II. Atheneum, 2005.

Warren, Andrea. Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps. HarperCollins, 2001.

Wolf, Joan M. Someone Named Eva. Clarion, 2007.

Yolen, Jane. The Devil's Arithmetic. Viking, 1988.

Critics have said

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.