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Daniel Half Human: And the Good Nazi (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover)) Hardcover – October 12, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–In June 1945, a U.S. soldier working as an interpreter for the Royal British Army visits the ruins of his childhood neighborhood in Hamburg and reflects on the events that changed his life forever. In 1933, 13-year-old Daniel, the well-to-do son of a prominent lawyer, and his working-class best friend, Armin, are wildly enthusiastic about the Nazis' rise to power. Both boys are eager to join the Hitler Youth, despite their parents' opposition. Daniel is horrified when his parents reveal that his mother is Jewish. He is furious with her for being Jewish, with his father for marrying "that Jewess," and with himself for being someone considered only half human according to the Aryan doctrine. While Daniel's father insists his status as a decorated World War I hero will protect his family, his mother urges her husband to emigrate. Armin, torn between loyalty to his best friend and pressure from Nazi leadership to sever his ties with Daniel, does his best to warn him of approaching danger. The author skillfully alternates between the protagonist's brief, first-person descriptions of his return to Germany and lengthier, third-person narratives of his life before Kristallnacht, the turning point that convinced his father to flee his homeland at last. The book's intense final scene is a fitting culmination to its exploration of the choice between official duty and loyalty to one's friends. Realizing the consequences of that choice makes a dramatic ending. Orgel's translation reads smoothly and movingly. An outstanding addition to the large body of World War II/Holocaust fiction.–Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. In Hamburg, Germany, in the 1930s, Daniel enjoys being part of the Hitler Youth until he discovers his mother is Jewish and he is thrown out of his elite school. He still has fun with his best friend, Armin, who falls in love with Daniel's Jewish cousin; but tension mounts, racism is rampant, and Armin begins to stay away, though he takes risks and warns his friend to hide. Daniel's return to Hamburg in 1945 as interpreter for the Allies frames the novel, which switches among the viewpoints of too many characters, including Daniel's parents, who fight about whether to leave the country. But the detailed history woven into the fiction (including the effect of Germany's defeat in World War I, Hitler's rise, and the violence of Kristallnacht) helps make this clearly translated novel an important title for the Holocaust curriculum, especially given the friendship drama that keeps raising ethical questions to the very last page. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Series: Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books; Tra edition (October 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689857470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689857478
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #909,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
DANIEL HALF HUMAN AND THE GOOD NAZI by David Chotjewitz, translated by Doris Orgel, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum/Richard Jackson, October 2004, ISBN: 0-689-85747-0

"It's interesting: On the street you know right away who's Jewish. I don't mean the Orthodox with their hats and curled sideburns. I mean the ones in normal clothes. I recognize them by how they walk. The Jews always stay close to the building walls. Or near the gutter. Even though it isn't written anywhere that they should. And they always look down. As though they are looking for something on the ground. And there's always this embarrassed smile. As if they wanted to beg pardon for something. No Germans walk in that crept-inside-themselves way."

--Daniel's cousin Miriam, writing a letter in 1935.

Two young friends in Hamburg, Germany become blood brothers while spending a night in jail. They've been caught painting swastikas in the Communist sector of town in 1933, shortly before the rise of Adolf Hitler. Daniel, the son of a wealthy attorney, and Armin, a poor scholarship student, attend an elite high school together. Little do either know, as the pair are first dabbling in hatred and imagining belonging to the HJ (Hitler Youth), that Daniel's parents will soon reveal to him that his mother is actually Jewish.

"Daniel looked at his father. 'Why did you do it?' he asked. 'Why did you marry a Jewess?'

Rheinhard stared at him. 'Why I did what?'

That's why I'm half Jewish now,' Daniel said. 'Because you married a Jewess.'

Rheinhard didn't answer. He gave David a look that hurt more than the smack in the face he gave him next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura on July 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! The Nazi/WWII era is one I have always found interesting and have read many books about it. This is one of the best. It portrays the Nazis effect on Aryans, Jews, youth, poor, rich, and adults.

The story is about Daniel, a regular teenage boy, who admires and wants to be a Nazi. All that changes when he learns he is Jewish. He is then faced with tough realizations and new appreciations. He goes from having many friends and a lot of money, to being on the run from the Nazis, having hardly any friends, with little money. However, his best friend Armin continues to be his friend but also continues his Nazi career.

This book really makes you think and I definitely recommend it.

If you are really interested in this time period, as I am, I also suggest you read: Until We Meet Again by Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger , The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman, Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally, and Night by Eli Wiesel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Will Nance on May 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A very interesting book. A good read.

Daniel is one-half Jewish.

Daniel's father is Aryan and a war hero from WWI.

Daniel's mother is a Jew.

Daniel's best friend, Armin, is a member of the Hitler youth. Armin, being a patriotic German, finds himself in the position of being a leader in the most anti-Jew government ever, and, having a Jew as a best friend.

You can easily put yourself in any of the characters' positions, wondering what you would do if you were them. I am blue-eyed with a fair complexion and thus would have been considered a perfect Aryan. What would I have done if I had been Armin? What would I have done if my beloved wife was a Jew - not care about her anymore because the government says she's half-human?

We would all like to say that we would have stood up to the Hitler government and resisted.

It's hard to describe the feelings you'll have after reading this book, but if you're like me, you'll think about it long after you've finished the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Village Charlatan on December 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I was going through this book, the above mentioned song by Kinky Friedman was the thing that recurringly kept coming to my mind, because "Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi" would tell us the events that would precede the Holocaust, in which 6 million members of the European Jewry would eventually perish. (Of course, Kinky's song generated enough storm in its day, because most people took it to be insulting to the memory of the Holocaust victims.).

I, for myself, as someone who for a few years lived in Jerusalem, had the chance to learn about the Jewish history and the atrocities on the Jews in Europe; visiting the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial Museum) was both shocking and an eye opener; it showed what should never happen in this world. But I did not read many a book of fiction that described the years before the 2nd World War in Germany (Perhaps one such book that I read was "Father of a Murderer").

There are many books that give us graphic details of the Holocaust era atrocities, but there are not so many works of fiction that dicuss the preceding years and the eventual spiraling of that era to the concentration camps and the "final solution". "Daniel Half human and the Good Nazi" concerns itself with 1933-1940, perhaps the most defining period for the 20th century history and politics.

The irony of the book lies in the friendship of two teenagers, who are extremely devoted to the Nazi party and Hitler and both of whom aim to join the Hitler Youth. They even get arrested one night drawing Swastika in the city square.

But then things suddenly change: Daniel finds out that his mother was the daughter of a couple who converted from Judaism, thus making her Jewish, and thereby making himself half Jewish, or half-human.
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