Witnesses of War: Children's Lives Under the Nazis

Nicholas Stargardt, Author
Nicholas Stargardt, Author . Knopf $30 (493p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4088-9
Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
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Open Ebook - 544 pages - 978-1-4070-8566-1
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Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-224-06479-8
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Handicapped German children taken from their families before WWII, girls of all nations raped by marauding soldiers, Jewish children shoved into ghettos: as Stargardt shows in this well-researched and horrific history, the lives of children were ravaged by Hitler's goals and the war he produced. Like Lynn Nicholas in her recent and also excellent Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web, Stargardt, a historian at Oxford, tells his story through the children's eyes using diaries and oral histories as well as other documentary sources. To be a child during the war, he notes, could be both easier and harder than it was to be an adult. Children often proved more resilient in overcoming physical and mental injuries. At the same time, they lacked the ability to directly express the pain that was haunting their dreams. Perhaps most unusual is Stargardt's illumination of how the Nazi regime affected German children, from those (who today would be called at-risk children) sent away to be "re-educated" to the idealized Hitler Youth sent to die in battle; it's a sharp and taut account of misery. 16 pages of b&w photos, 6 maps. Agent, Clare Alexander. (Jan. 20)

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