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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In this Newbery Honor and Sibert Honor award-winning book, Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores the riveting and often chilling story of Germany's powerful Hitler Youth groups. By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany's young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members. "I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world." -- Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933…

Hitler Youth

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Overall Book Review:

Written by the same author who wrote The Boy Who Dared, this is a non-fiction account of the youth who were involved in the Hitler Youth organizations. This book has won seven awards, including the Newberry Honor and the Robert Sibert Honor.

Bartoletti has put in massive amounts of research for this book, and it shows. There are so many personal accounts, facts, and details to open the eyes to any reader as to what happened before, during, and after WWII with regards to the youth as well as the war in general. Throughout the book are photographs to illustrate the people, places, and events being discussed. At the end of the book there is a timeline of events, author’s note, quote source, bibliography with indicators for books that would interest young readers, and an index.

This is not a light book. It is quite horrifying, but factual. It lays everything out quite plainly for all to consume and better understand what happened. This book sheds light onto how the German people became involved in Hitler’s plans – specifically how the youth were the building block for the execution of his plans.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 mild obscenity.

Violence/Gore:  Bloody street fight; minor hit minor in the back; minor punched and kicked back. Minor stabbed 6 times – blood; banner dipped in blood of martyrs; report of brawl; pummeled weaker boys, scrapes, bruises, bloody noses; set fire to building; threat to take away children; threat of prison sentences; minor punches minor in face; threat of jail or death penalty; soldiers spat in face; minor beat minor; taunt of ‘let’s see their blood’; threat of punishment; those who burn books will burn people; beat up 60 year old man and left him; Jew hunts – pulled people that looked like Jews and beat bloody; crude lyrics to songs regarding Jewish blood; smashed windows of Jewish businesses; destroyed synagogue; attacked owners by punching and clubbing until senseless and bloody; similar attacks all over; broken glass and expensive goods destroyed/stolen; 1,300 synagogues destroyed; looting; destroyed homes; canary trampled; within 48 hours 236 Jews were killed, 1,300 synagogues destroyed, 7,000 shops, businesses, and homes destroyed, 30,000 Jews arrested and sent to concentration camps; saw neighbors being murdered and beaten; photograph of soldier kicking a man; report of Nazi official being shot; leader said he had rather they killed 200 Jews than destroyed valuable property; people risked lives to help; report of persons being murdered in concentration camps; people could spit on you or beat you; person knocked to ground; many references to German youth being born to die for Germany; youth were taught to kill, taught military tactics; reference to a murderous work; volunteers sought for a firing squad; threat of war; pretend battles; German soldiers dressed as Polish soldiers attack the German army; German army attack in retaliation; tank assaults; threat of children being taken away; lightening war conquered Norway, Denmark, Holland, Luxemburg, Belgium, and France; throw people out of their homes; war is declared for US; youth sent to take care of bodies – burying 35 bodies deep; 600,000 Germans killed in air raids – 1/3 homes destroyed; lost arm in battle; hands raw with blisters; razor sharp shrapnel fell head to toe; youth maimed antiaircraft guns; persons with disabilities killed; forced sterilization; mass murder; allowed doctor to kill baby; mass murder/euthanasia of infants, children, teenagers, and adults; 100,000 maybe 200,000 killed this way; patients shot, given lethal injections, sedatives, carbon monoxide, gas chambers, and bodies were burned; referred to as “useless eaters”; began to turn these actions towards the elderly; extermination of Jews and other enemies; people would dig mass graves and be executed by machine gun into the mass graves – 500, 000; hundreds of thousands slaughtered in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Western Russia; 300,000 Polish Jews were killed; report of someone being slapped; report of others being roughed up by gangs; camp of resisters had harsh punishment including sterilization, castration, and execution; minor beaten for 2 days;  brutal interrogations of minor including being kicked, punched, and beaten with a club; 1 million German died; 3 death sentences by beheading; youth was shot in chest and bleeding held a mine to a tank – it exploded and he died; family killed at front; adult boxed ears of minor; attacked bomber plans from the ground; youth described sight of blowing up a tank; youth fought hand to hand; youth pretended to surrender with a grenade in his hand and blew up self and captors; blasting of tanks to destroy tank and foot soldiers behind; 4 tanks destroyed; youth captured tank with pistol; 134 unarmed POW shot and killed; 8,626 casualties; 1951 killed, 4,312 injured, missing/captured; attacks and counter attacks; trenches filled with dead men; minor who had blown up tank fell with exhaustion; assault weapons used to blast or burn block by block taking any Germans who resisted; fight in subway tunnels – could only see flashes of light; relief arm destroyed; 4,500 minors dead or wounded after attacking tanks; Berlin engulfed in flames; 125,000 dead; boy with shrapnel wounds; reference to suicide to continue to fight; skeleton fell out of train car – compacted with so many decomposing bodies they were still standing; crematorium ovens filled with remains of charred bodies including children; Hitler’s suicide mentioned at least 3 times; Hitler shot himself, but the people were told he was killed in action at the head of his troops; bike/ car crash – minor injuries; 6,000 inmates machine gunned to death – their bodies were burned; sentenced to death for role in POW murders; 12 condemned to death – top Nazi leaders committed suicide; torture and murder of 12 million people;

Many (21+) references to concentration camps including: Thousands sent to concentration camps; 30,000 Jews arrested and sent to concentration camps; 6 concentration camps expanded for gas chambers and crematoriums; people told concentration camps were to protect Jews from those who wanted to hurt them; people packed into cattle cars – died from suffocation; separation of who were sent to gas chambers and who were sent to labor camps; reference to family in the smoke coming out of the crematoriums; prisoners worked to death, starvation, torture, beatings, and daily executions; more than 1 million killed at Auschwitz;

Several (20) references to execution, including: Hundreds of leaders executed; executed without trial; punishment for desertion was execution; men dragged to street and shot; between 1941-1943 2 million executed in mass graves; 300 executions in a building; minor beheaded.

Several (14) reports of death.

A few (8) threats of death, including: If resist, they would be shot; Thought they were going to tear us to pieces. 

A few (8) references to bombing, including: School bombed – 3,000 screaming children; property destroyed in bombings;

Sex/Nudity:  Report of 2000 pregnant girls – implied sex and rape by both same age and adult persons; reference to kissing scenes in the movies; kiss on soldier’s cheek.

Mature Subject Matter:

War; racial discrimination; religious discrimination; genocide; mass murder; concentration camps; prisoners of war; PTSD.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Reference to flasks; reference to underage drinking being patrolled; reference to pipe tobacco; reference to youth not being old enough to smoke or drink.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My favorite books are ones that change me and my perceptions of the world in a significant way. My favorite genre is probably historical fiction with biographies as a close second.