"I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world." --Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933 By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany's young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.
Bartoletti (Kids on Strike!) offers a unique and riveting perspective on WWII by focusing on the young people who followed Hitler from 1933-1945. The narrative primarily focuses on members of the Hitler Youth, but also profiles some of the group's dissidents and its Jewish targets. Hitler began his quest for dominance with young people, recognizing them as "a powerful political force" and claiming, "With them I can make a new world." Bartoletti describes how the propaganda of the Hitler Youth attracted children: "The overnight camping trips, campfires, and parades sounded like a great deal of fun," said one 12-year-old. But the organization also emphasized loyalty to the Third Reich above all (including family-one eight-year-old, Elisabeth Vetter, turned in her parents to the Nazis). The author personalizes the war by placing identifiable individuals at the center of the events, such as Sophie Scholl, who moved away from Nazi ideas as a teen and in college joined the "White Rose" group that published pamphlets detailing Nazi evils and urging resistance-a crime for which she and others were executed. Powerful black-and-white photographs testify to the lure and also the cruelty of the Nazis. Bartoletti's portrait of individuals within the Hitler Youth who failed to realize that they served "a mass murderer" is convincing, and while it does not excuse the atrocities, it certainly will allow readers to comprehend the circumstances that led to the formation of Hitler's youngest zealots. Ages 7-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.