This non-fiction book follows the lives of many Hitler Youth and other young Germans during Nazi Germany. Some of the youth were completely taken in by Hitler’s propaganda while others, like the White Rose group, fought against it. Many of the youth fought and died in battle or were executed for treason.
This book explained so much about Nazi Germany and how Hitler captivated the nation. Hitler believed that the youth were the key to controlling Germany’s fate and future. It was very intense to read about all the lies the youth were told and to see their undying devotion to the tyrant. You don’t often see this side of the story for World War II, and I’m glad to have read about it. This book also gave me great context for the book, The Book Thief.
“Why do I think Hitler Youth appeared on this list? Because it makes history relevant to teenagers. Through Bartoletti’s following twelve teenagers into the Hitler Youth, or into the opposition, we learn more about teen feelings and reactions to Hitler” (Kelly 2011).
The classroom uses for this book are obvious. If you have youth read this book instead of a text book, it will generate more interest in the topic because the Hitler Youth are about their age. A different way to use this in a library setting would be to include it as one of many books in a creative writing program. You could have many books about youth from different periods of time and have the kid read a portion of the book. They then write a diary entry as if they were a child from that time. They learn about history and develop better writing skills.
Bartoletti, S. C. (2005). Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow. New York: Scholastic.
Kelly, D. (July 31, 2011). Top Teen Title #10. School Library Journal Online. Retrieved from