The Hunter/Gather of Surburbia

Are we where we live?

September 5, 2010

What am I reading?

The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. A very easy read, especially for middle school students. The story is told in the first person omniscient from the point of view of Helmut Hubener. The story follows Helmut from his 14th year to his 16th when he is executed for treason for listening to the banned BBC News and posting leaflets throughout Hamburg, Germany in 1942.
What struck me about the story is Helmut's determination to get the truth out and the cost he paid for doing that. The novel illustrates how bystanders can and do cause genocide to happen by doing nothing. It also shows how fear can lead people to betray loved ones and colleagues for fear of being arrested, tortured, and executed yourself.
Every time I teach about the Holocaust I wonder what I would have done. Would I let my friends and family be taken away to save myself. Or would I, as some did, try to stop the Germans at the cost of a beating, imprisonment, or death? I can't answer that question with certainty. I know what I feel I would do and I would rescue as many as I could. The risk would have been great, but rescue is much less likely to cause my family to be hurt.
The novel is designed for young adults to read and is not graphic in its detail. There is a section at the end of the book with pictures and a short biography of Helmut's friends Karl and Rudi. There is also a discussion guide on Scholastic that I have not yet to explore

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