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“Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
call # 943.086
General history of Europe-Central Europe-Germany
Both where I saw this book and its title intrigued me. I was sitting in an elementary school library waiting for volunteer orientation to begin, when I saw "Hitler Youth" on the spine of book on a shelf of non fiction books. I took it off the shelf, perused it, then began reading the first few pages. I put it back on the shelf as more volunteers arrived. After the meeting, I asked a teacher at the school (I had worked at this school before I retired.) if she would check this book out for me. She did.
I read the book for Holocaust information, but also to decide whether I thought it were better suited for a middle school library since elementary students at their oldest are ten or eleven years old.
The content was excellent, depressing, informative, well sequenced, and as the title implies centered around how Hitler's propaganda including youth clubs influenced many of the idealist, impressionalbe school age children to believe in and work for the Nazi cause. Although text predominated, there were many photos throughout. These pictures were from archives and directly from some of the people the author interviewed.
I think the book would be appropriate for an astute upper elementary student requesting information about the Holocaust. I do wonder what might happen if an avid reader chose this book with little or no knowledge of the Holocaust. Hopefully, he/she would then discuss it with a competent adult in his/her life. (Hopefully, the astute student I described above would, too.)
I do think the book is better suited for middle school media centers, but am glad to see that the school sytem is open to sharing needed information of this horrendous twelve year period in history. BTW, it appears that the book has as yet never been checked out by a student. I may be wrong though as student checkout information may be completely automated. I am basing my assumption totally on the fact that there are no due dates stamped on the library sticker on the back of the book.
I have read a handful of books on the Holocaust, yet I learned some things about the era. I did not realize that less than one percent of Germany was of Jewish heritage. I did not realize that Hitler youth grew so rapidly. The Hitler youth groups began in 1926 and numbered 6,000. By 1937, the year Hitler withdrew Germany from the Treaty of Versailles, the members numbered 5,878,955!
Finally, I would like to add that the author made this book very readable, that is, very informative in an easy to navigate way. On the first page spread, she included pictures of the young people written about in the book with breif synopsis of the parts each played. (Some were strong members of the youth groups throughout the war years, some left the groups and protested against the Nazi cause, some were Jewish, etc.) At the very end, she included synopses of their lives today--those still alive are in their seventies and eighties. Some of them have written books about their experiences, and the author included there titles in these synopses. Ms. Bartoletti also included a concise timeline of the Hitler youth movement, a brief but informative foreward, a personnal author's note, a bibliography and a quote sources section. In addition, the photos she chose were excellent in that they were placed in appropriate text spots which added to the text information and included consise informative captions.
Karen wrote this review Saturday, November 9, 2013.