The Boy Who Dared was written by American children’s author Susan Campbell Bartoletti. It was published in 2008. It is an account of the true story of the youngest person to be sentenced to death by the Nazis during the Second World War.
The protagonist/main character in the novel is Helmuth Hubener from Hamburg, Germany. The story opens in 1942, when Helmuth is seventeen years old. He has been on death row in a Berlin prison for 264 days. Helmuth has been imprisoned for treason—going against Hitler. The Boy Who Dared is his story told in flashbacks, beginning when he was three years old. As he awaits execution, Helmuth recalls his childhood, his family, and growing up in Nazi Germany. Through his recollections, Helmuth gives the reader insight into the realities of growing up during Hitler’s regime.
Helmuth’s family are also important to his story:
Gerhard Kunkel - Gerhard is Helmuth’s older half-brother. At the beginning of the story, he lives with his family but then moves in with his grandparents, Oma and Opa, to get away from his stepfather. Helmuth thinks Gerhard is a "know-it-all."
Hans Kunkel - Hans is Helmuth’s oldest half-brother. He was a soldier but then moved into shipbuilding, building submarines.
Mutti (Mom) Hubener (also known as Emma) - Mutti is Helmuth’s, Gerhard’s, and Hans’s mother.
Hugo Hubener - Hugo is Mutti’s third husband and Helmuth’s stepfather.
Oma - Oma is Mutti’s mother and lives in a flat next door to the family house. Helmuth recalls her kindness and the food she used to make him.
Opa - Opa is Mutti’s father and also lives in the flat next door. Opa doesn’t like Hugo or Hitler.