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Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow Hardcover – April 1, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–Hitler's plans for the future of Germany relied significantly on its young people, and this excellent history shows how he attempted to carry out his mission with the establishment of the Hitler Youth, or Hitlerjugend, in 1926. With a focus on the years between 1933 and the end of the war in 1945, Bartoletti explains the roles that millions of boys and girls unwittingly played in the horrors of the Third Reich. The book is structured around 12 young individuals and their experiences, which clearly demonstrate how they were victims of leaders who took advantage of their innocence and enthusiasm for evil means. Their stories evolve from patriotic devotion to Hitler and zeal to join, to doubt, confusion, and disillusion. (An epilogue adds a powerful what-became-of-them relevance.) The large period photographs are a primary component and they include Nazi propaganda showing happy and healthy teens as well as the reality of concentration camps and young people with large guns. The final chapter superbly summarizes the weighty significance of this part of the 20th century and challenges young readers to prevent history from repeating itself. Bartoletti lets many of the subjects' words, emotions, and deeds speak for themselves, bringing them together clearly to tell this story unlike anyone else has.–Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. What was it like to be a teenager in Germany under Hitler? Bartoletti draws on oral histories, diaries, letters, and her own extensive interviews with Holocaust survivors, Hitler Youth, resisters, and bystanders to tell the history from the viewpoints of people who were there. Most of the accounts and photos bring close the experiences of those who followed Hitler and fought for the Nazis, revealing why they joined, how Hitler used them, what it was like. Henry Mentelmann, for example, talks about Kristallnacht, when Hitler Youth and Storm Troopers wrecked Jewish homes and stores, and remembers thinking that the victims deserved what they got. The stirring photos tell more of the story. One particularly moving picture shows young Germans undergoing de-Nazification by watching images of people in the camps. 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. The extensive back matter is a part of the gripping narrative. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; 1st edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439353793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439353793
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 10 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Campbell Bartoletti is the award-winning author of several books for young readers, including Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850, winner of the Robert F. Sibert Medal. She lives in Moscow, Pennsylvania. Annika Maria Nelson studied printmaking at the University of Vienna in Austria and at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She lives in Southern California.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The greatest strength of this book is laid out in the very first line, when author Susan Campbell Bartoletti says, "This is not a book about Adolf Hitler". Instead, she says in her introduction, it is a book about the young people "that followed Hitler", about the children who grew up in his zenith and who had to negotiate a childhood shaped by his life and death. The youth corps or simply Hitler Youth are examined in a clarifying detail that showcases their positive and attractive elements like camping and companionship as well as early troublesome activities like Nazi propaganda distribution and eventually munitions training. The book is exceptionally well rounded, including the voices of those children who couldn't join, opposed, or were excluded from the Hitler Youth in addition to its most vigorous supporters. The stories interweave and co-exist, giving the reader a sense of the broad responses to Hitler's regime and the various roles of young people in that regime.

Hitler Youth is outstandingly researched and makes excellent use of primary sources, such as photos, letters, diaries, books, and oral histories in attractive and informative ways without ever overwhelming the reader. She places everything in a context of German history post-World War I that allows the reader to understand the Hitler Youth as a product of particular historical circumstances and not just something that happened autonomously. Her use of German words gives the book cultural authenticity.

Another great success of the book is the way that it slowly ratchets up the tension and terror as it explores the issues of war, terrorism, resistance, and authoritarianism.
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Format: Hardcover
I borrowed this book from the library and read it in TWO days! Not that I am a wonderful reader, but it truly is a gripping and fascinating book. I could not put it down.

I am familiar with the events leading to WWII, the purpose of the deadly and unforgettable Holocaust, and a lot of the propaganda of the socialistic movement. I was not, however, familiar with the youth that Hitler motivated to do most of the work behind the war and the holocaust. It is a part of history that I never knew and was amazed to find out,

This book is very well documented with excerpts from diaries and touching photos of a handful of youth that belonged to Hitler's regime, the jews, and some who's scales fell from their eyes and escaped the yoke of Nazi brain washing. The pictures are clean as far as not seeing some of the more atrocious pictures that you would probably see at the Holocaust museum. Like I said, the focus of this book is more on the youth of Hitler, and not of the war or the holocaust itself.

There is absolutely no one-sided persuasion in this book. You do not get the feeling of hatred toward the German youth, you honestly feel sorry for these children. Almost to the point of understanding why they did some of the things that they did. But still one must ask why they still did it.

This book may be a little harder to read for a child. Perhaps, it is more high school level. It definately deserves a place in your history section of your own personal library.
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Format: Hardcover
So many books have been written about the Holocaust and World War 2, and most of them have been either from the Jewish point of view or the Allied point of view. This one tackles the same subjects through the difficult eyes of those people who, as children, were inducted into the Hitler Youth. This book is very frank about the jubilation these youngsters felt as they beheld Hitler and his vision for Germany and how they were indoctrinated in the propaganda. It's very scary thinking of how Hitler targeted the young and innocent as vehicles for his schemes and how successful he was doing this. The author takes interviews and writings and shows clearly how the individuals were taken in by this machine; the youth themselves, now elderly, don't excuse themselves but do tell the tale so that it is easy to see how they became so enamored. This book should be required reading for those young adults studying World War 2 because it's important to remember that there were two sides to the story and how innocent youngsters were willing victims. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I think this is probably the best, most accessible introduction to the mass phenomenon that led to the Hitler Youth phenomenon, the Waffen-SS, and the fanatical adoration and devotion to "Der Fuehrer" that led to the downfall of the Thousand Year Reich in just 12 short years.

This book has already won the types of awards one would expect, and my miniscule acclimation may not mean much--but as one who has studied adult accounts of the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the kind of mass psychology that could lead to the Nazi phenomenon I cannot recommend this book more highly--even down to the age of 12 with adult supervision and informed consultation.

My question is--where does the line between the Hitler Youth and the Bund Deutsche Maedel (German young women) end and the phenomenon of the Boy Scouts begin--with Malcolm Badel-Powell and the kind of Patriotism that the American Civil Liberties Union so adhores? I think this book is a good entry point for anyone pondering such questions--for as every Hitler Youth I have encountered feels, some of the bloodstains of the German-initiated World War and the atrocities of the Holocaust (which killed 6 million Jews and 7 million dissidents, Communists, Gypsies, and enemies of the state!)--the somehow feels as stained as Lady MacBeth, 60 years later.....or, they are in some kind of massive denial. I have met and conversed with both types of Germans, and I can only say, that this phenomenon will plague masters of genocide everywhere--from the Killing Fields of Cambodia to the Muslim child "vacationers" from Europe who go to the Middle East and practice throat-cutting drills (yes, I've seen those also).

The Jungvolk and Hitler Youth did not simply grow up in the shadow of Hitler.
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