Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
Scholastic Inc: NY, 2005.
Newbery Honor 2006

Until now, most of what I have read regarding Germany in the 1930s through 1940s was about the war itself or the Holocaust. I had known that Hitler's rise to power was a reaction against restrictions upon them as a result of WWI. I find it hard to understand why witnesses of WWI would have wanted another war. This book brings a new perspective-the idea that the preparation and desire for war was a product of the youth being targeted by NAZI propaganda.

In the U.S., not much time is spent studying the build up to war by the Germans (nor the reactions of other countries). It is important to realize that the Hitler Youth organization was growing for 7 years before Hitler was appointed chancellor at which time it was nearly 100,000 youth. Within the next year it increased more than 2,000,000. There were 6,000,000 members of Hitler Youth before Germany invaded another country. Given that it is the young who are sent to war, many of the soldiers would have participated in NAZI rallies and spreading of propaganda. The youth were the key. They helped him gain power at a time when they felt little hope for the future, and they enthusiastically did what was asked in order to rebuild their country.

The narrative focuses on 12 young people, most of whom were involved in the Hitler Youth organization. One was killed supporting the NAZI party before Hitler became chancellor. Five were arrested as traitors. Four contined to support Hitler throughout the war. Their stories are complicated. Maybe this is a step in understanding why the events happened. The same sort of singlemindedness is apparent in out country now and others around the world. It is frightening to think it could happen again, but to assume that it couldn't is foolish.

related-Hitler-Jugend, National Socialism and youth, Germany, 20th century, education, propaganda

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