I read this book many years ago while in college earning my degree in Elementary Education. It was for a Children’s Literature class, which meant A LOT of reading. This is honestly one of the few books I remember reading during my reading marathon of a semester. I have recently read it again, and again been in awe and horrified of this time in history. It shares a powerful message through the lives of 12 boys and girls and their experiences during WWII. The picutres alone are truly amazing and open the window to a world we hope to never have to see again. The writing is equally outstanding, Bartoletti writes of experiences that I promise you will never forget.
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)