Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

ISBN: 978-0739336625
Review Date:

Even though Susan Campbell Bartoletti wrote Hitler Youth for young adult readers, she cut no corners in terms of her process compiling her material. While most of the recount of history was cursory at best, her interviews with Hitler Youth members and young Jews who lived through the Nazi period provided a vivid picture of what life was like for youths growing up in Germany, and how the government manipulated their naïveté to further their evil goals. While many readers young and old would likely be already familiar with general stories about teens urged to report their parents for "unpatriotic" activities and Hitler Youths hosting book burning events, the author skillfully weaved such high level views with personal stories of a small cast of characters, pressing home that this sad period of European history was not mere words in a book. A complaint I had while going through this book was the author's need to dive into topics not directly related to the Hitler Youth, resulting in unnecessary mistakes. For example, on more than one occasion she had trouble differentiating the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht), the Army (Heer), and the militarized SS police force (Waffen-SS); she probably could have avoided such confusion altogether by not explaining the organization in such detail, and by doing so she would lose little in the content of her book.

I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Kathrin Kana did a great job narrating, including the few German words that dotted the pages of this book.

I found Hitler Youth to be a good book on the said topic for young adults. Even though I found certain sections to be either too cursory or not perfectly accurate, perhaps that was only because the author was trying to keep things simple for her intended audience.

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