What are different scenes/events that happened in the book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadows?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Bartoletti's work focuses on how Hitler's rise to power impacted young people. The scenes or events that stick out illuminate such an effect.

One specific event that would have to be highlighted would be Hitler's focus on the youth.  Hitler understood that there was an advantage in targeting young people as part of his design for absolute power.  When he says in 1933, "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," it is the beginning of the sequence that impacts millions of young people.  Another such moment would be when Hitler makes it clear that he wanted the young people to “fall under the spell of National Socialism in order that they may never be spiritually seduced by any of the old generation.” These two events establish that Hitler made a conscious effort to target the young people in order to gain power.

I think that focusing on how young people responded to this call is a significant part of the narrative.  Events in the book such as Alfons Heck's experiences are essential to this construction.  After hearing Hitler speak in 1938, he became so convinced to the cause that he claimed he “belonged to Adolf Hitler, body and soul.”  Others such Melita Maschmann were impacted by the solutions that Hitler proposed, believing that these would represent the path to reclaim German greatness.  The death of Herbert Norkus is another scene that highlights how young people played a vital role in establishing the hold that Nazism had over the German people.

At the same time, I think that it is equally important to discuss the events of those young people who resisted Hitler and the Nazis.  Bartoletti brings this out in the narratives of people like Sophie Scholl, who refused to conform to Nazi standards of behavior.  Another such scene would be Helmuth Hübener's defiance, resulting in him being the youngest person that the Nazis executed. These moments are critical to the work's narrative development.

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