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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hitler Youth: Growing Up In Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

"What can happen to a people whose youth sacrifices everything in order to serve its great ideals?" - Adolph Hitler, October 1932

4 CDs
4 hours, 27 minutes
Read by Kathrin Kana

Susan Campbell  Bartoletti's Hitler Youth demonstrates how the Nazis separated children from the parents, their churches and their senses in an effort to make them loyal to the German state and Adolph Hitler.

Starting with the story of a member of the Hitler Youth who was killed in a bloody street fight with Communist youths, Bartoletti shows the chaos in the streets that enabled Hitler to take over Germany. She also details every step that the Hitler Youth took to monopolize the lives and the attention of its young people in order to completely dominate their lives and their loyalties. The reader is introduced to a number of former members of the Hitler Youth and we are told generalities of how the Hitler Youth operated and the specifics of how these actions affected these young people.

Step by step, the schools, churches and families are infiltrated in order to allow the German state to control these young people through seemingly benign activities such as school, weekend outings, rallies and a sense of belonging to a larger purpose.  Did it work? We hear the disturbing story of a young woman who turned her parents over to the police for being critical of the Fuhrer. Another former member notes: "I was carried away by it all."

As World War II progresses and Germany starts to lose, thousands of Hitler Youth became air raid wardens. Some operated air raid bunkers and others were taught to operate Anti-aircraft guns. Others operated giant searchlights and still more were involved in body recovery efforts after air raids. Later, others were brought directly to the front lines, given rudimentary training and put into the fight. Some were so young that they were not given the cigarette ration given to regular soldiers - instead they were given candy!

This book offers a dramatically different take on the Nazi movement and World War II. Listening to this audiobook gave me a whole new reason to loathe the Fuhrer, the Nazis and too much concentration of power in the hands of the state. This is a disturbing, difficult and important book.

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here:  Hitler Youth

Reviewed on April 9, 2011.

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