In Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler\u2019s Shadow, Booklist\u2019s 2005 Top of the List–Nonfiction for youth, Bartoletti included a portrait of Helmuth H\u00fcbener, a German teenager executed for his resistance to the Nazis. In this fictionalized biography, she imagines his story, as he sits in prison awaiting execution in 1942 and remembers his childhood in Hamburg during Hitler\u2019s rise to power. Beaten and tortured to name his friends, he remembers how he started off an ardent Nazi follower and then began to question his patriotism, secretly listened to BBC radio broadcasts, and finally dared to write and distribute pamphlets calling for resistance. The teen\u2019s perspective, and makes this a particularly gripping way to personalize the history, and even those unfamiliar with the background Bartoletti weave in here–the German bitterness after World War I, the burning of the books, the raging anti-Semitism––will be held by story of one boy\u2019s heroic resistance in the worst of times. A lengthy author\u2019s note distinguishes fact from fiction, and Bartoletti provides a detailed chronology, a bibliography, and many black-and-white photos of Helmuth with friends, family and members of his Mormon church. The is an important title for the Holocaust curriculum.. See the Booklist interview with Bartoletti in the January 1, 2006 issue, in which she discusses how this teen\u2019s story moved her.
— Hazel Rochman, Booklist, February 15, 2008
Returning to material she uncovered while researching Hitler Youth, Bartoletti offers a fictionalized biography of Helmuth H\u00fcbener, a Hamburg teenager who, in February 1942, was arrested for writing and distributing leaflets that denounced Hitler. Almost nine months later, on October 27, at the age of 17, H\u00fcbener was executed for treason. Opening her story on H\u00fcbener's last day, Bartoletti frames the work as third-person flashbacks, casting over the narrative a terrible sense of doom even as she escalates the tension. She does an excellent job of conveying the political climate surrounding Hitler's ascent to power, seamlessly integrating a complex range of socioeconomic conditions into her absorbing drama of Helmuth and his fatherless family. The author also convincingly shows how Helmuth originally embraces Hitler. His disillusionment seems to come a little too easily; American readers may wonder why Helmuth's reactions were not more common. But that question resolves itself as the author exposes the chilling gap between her own admiration for her subject and reflections, discussed in an afterword, from those who knew Helmuth, as in this comment from his older brother: \u201cHe should have known better than that.... A sixteen-year-old boy cannot change the government.\u201d Ages 11-up. (Feb.)
— Publishers Weekly, February 11, 2008
Returning to material she uncovered while researching Hitler Youth, Bartoletti offers a fictionalized biography of Helmuth Hübener, a Hamburg teenager who, in February 1942, was arrested for writing and distributing leaflets that denounced Hitler. Almost nine months later, on October 27, at the age of 17, Hübener was executed for treason. Opening her story on Hübener's last day, Bartoletti frames the work as third-person flashbacks, casting over the narrative a terrible sense of doom even as she escalates the tension. She does an excellent job of conveying the political climate surrounding Hitler's ascent to power, seamlessly integrating a complex range of socioeconomic conditions into her absorbing drama of Helmuth and his fatherless family. The author also convincingly shows how Helmuth originally embraces Hitler. His disillusionment seems to come a little too easily; American readers may wonder why Helmuth's reactions were not more common. But that question resolves itself as the author exposes the chilling gap between her own admiration for her subject and reflections, discussed in an afterword, from those who knew Helmuth, as in this comment from his older brother: "He should have known better than that.... A sixteen-year-old boy cannot change the government." Ages 11-up. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 18.
Teenagers familiar with Holocaust literature probably know that homosexuals, committed Christians, and gypsies suffered along with Jews. That adherents of the Mormon faith were also discriminated against may come as news. Bartoletti's fictionalized recounting of the life of Helmuth Huebener serves as an exemplar and a stirring tale of one young man's resistance to a government he came to regard as evil. As a child, Huebener was enthralled with the Nazi regime. His mother, despite her faith, was a staunch supporter of Hitler, and his brothers were obedient army men. His mother eventually married a member of the SS, and it was in his stepfather's unquestioning acceptance of the party line that Heubener began to question Nazi actions. His resolve to resist was hardened when his brother brought home a short-wave radio, allowing the teenager to listen to BBC broadcasts. Bartoletti makes Helmuth's growth from support of the Nazi agenda, to tacit acceptance, and to active resistance completely believable. The character development, based on research and interviews with those who knew Helmuth, is solid, and the author excels in creating a sense of immediacy in the setting. Her Nazi Germany is a place that is hauntingly familiar, enveloped in a government-fed sense of fear in this welcome addition to a body of literature begun with Anne Frank's diary. Reviewer: Ann Welton
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)
AGERANGE: Ages 13 to 17.
Helmuth Hübener, a German youth, was executed by the Third Reich while still in his teens. Caught up in the fervor and dangers of Hitler's Germany, Helmuth found the strength to speak the truth and do what was right. This work of historical fiction is admirable. Through a combination of research and imagination, Bartoletti has taken the true story of this extraordinary youth in dark times and given him a voice. The book, I must admit, confused me on a technical level. Was Helmuth speaking of himself in the third person or was he narrating in the first person? But this is my own personal difficulty and should not affect your consideration of the text. The prose comes together to give a powerful representation of what Helmuth's thoughts and experiences might have been. I recommend this book. It is a heart-wrenching read that could be a starting point for further discussion on the nature of bravery, the Holocaust, right and wrong, as well as other topics. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
The Boy Who Dared tells the story of Helmuth Hubener, a young man growing up in Nazi Germany. Although he enters the Hitler Youth, and he has family members serving in the German army, Helmuth's conscience will not allow him to be swept up in the nationalistic fervor of the times. Rather, Helmuth begins listening to the BBC with an illegal radio, and he ultimately recruits a couple of like-minded friends to help him circulate a crude newsletter based on the British broadcasts. Soon they are caught by the authorities, and when Helmuth and his friends are on trial, Helmuth deliberately antagonizes the judge in order to attract attention to himself and lessen the punishment his friends will face. The novel is told in flashbacks as Helmuth sits in his jail cell awaiting execution for his crimes. The Boy Who Dared is a compelling, well-told story that will appeal to students interested in historical fiction, World War II, or stories of individuals defying a corrupt government. Reviewer: F. Todd Goodson
Gr 6-9- In the newly formed Third Reich, Hitler's initial political doctrine is filled with hopeful solutions for a country plagued with unemployment, poverty, and a post-World War I feeling of defeat. Propaganda and promises quickly turn to oppressive new laws including the required participation in the Hitler Youth. Helmuth Hübener enters the program and is at once impressed with the bravado, shiny uniforms, boots, and patriotic fever sweeping the country. But his Mormon-based teachings trigger questions in his mind about the reality behind the regime's invasions of neighboring countries, mistreatment of Jewish citizens, and closely controlled media. He creates an underground newsletter with information gathered from BBC reports using an illegal shortwave radio. As he secretly distributes the flyers throughout the town, his boldness encourages him to gather several accomplices resulting in his arrest, trial, and execution. The novel opens as he is on death row, and the story is told as a series of flashbacks. Helmuth is portrayed as a brave, outspoken voice amid a family of acquiescing brothers, mother, and new SS stepfather. Based on a real person, the novel includes black-and-white photos of Hübener and his family. Bartoletti offers another perspective on the Holocaust, demonstrating that even if the effort proves unsuccessful, the courage and convictions of a minority should be motivation to speak the truth rather than remain silent. It's a message that must be continually emphasized as a lasting legacy of the Holocaust.-Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
Spun off from interviews with survivors as well as published sources, Bartoletti crafts a novel closely based on the true story of Helmuth Hubener, a German teen who stood up to the Nazis and paid with his life. Written in present-tense flashbacks, the tale traces the development of Helmuth's outlook from childhood delight in playing with toy soldiers within the safe confines of his closely knit Mormon family to ill-concealed fury as Hitler's rise brings mounting violence against Jews, suppression of books and foreign news and a general climate of fear and mistrust. He resorts at last to anonymous pamphleteering, and his eventual capture brings imprisonment, beatings and a trial at which he manages to save two of his friends from death penalties. A long author's note and a suite of photos cap this inspiring tale of conscience and courage. Pair it with Bartoletti's Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler's Shadow (2005). (Historical fiction. 11-13)