The Plot To Kill Hitler – by Patricia McCormick (2016)

The Plot To Kill Hitler

As I was browsing through a Scholastic flier last month, I came across this book. It’s a biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor-turned-conspirator during World War II. At a time when many just went with the tide, Bonhoeffer had the courage to say the dictator was wrong. In addition, he tried to rally others to take a stand, and eventually was willing to be part of a plot to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer did what he could to help save the lives of Jewish people and others who were being targeted. Why did he get involved, when he could have had a quiet, comfortable life in safety? This excerpt from the book gives the answer:

Dietrich had seen the effects of “separate but equal” in the United States, and even though he was just a junior lecturer at Berlin University, he knew he had to speak out. The rest of the country might have fallen under Hitler’s spell, but Bonhoeffer thought that the clergy, men who had taken solemn vows to love and care for their fellow man, would take a stand against such blatant injustice. This, after all, was why he had become a minister, as he’d told his brothers back when he was thirteen – not to retreat from the issues of the day but to affect them…

The church, he said, has an obligation to “assist the victims” of government wrongdoing – “even if they do not belong to the Christian community.” He didn’t say so, but everyone knew he was talking about the Jews. At that, some of the ministers in the meeting got up and walked out.

But Bonhoeffer had more to say. It was not enough to simply “bandage the victims under the wheel” of the government, he said. The church had a duty to jam a stick in the wheel itself. He was calling on his fellow pastors to stop Hitler in his tracks.

(pages 56-57)

This was an excellent summary of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is also a good book to introduce kids to the resistance movement during World War II, as it is not terribly graphic. I would highly recommend this book to anyone ages 10 and up.

 

When Books Went To War – by Molly Guptill Manning (2014)

When Books Went To War

Did you know that during World War II, Europe lost approximately 100,000,000 printed books? It began with Hitler’s followers conducting book-burning events, targeting books by Jewish authors and books that held views different from their own. Then lists were made for the general public, advising them that they might not want to be caught during a home inspection with such books. The lists grew longer. Fear built up, and people began burning any of their own books that were deemed objectionable. As the Nazis bombed country after country, entire libraries were obliterated.

Adolph Hitler was an evil man, but he was not stupid. He realized the power of written words to motivate people, to educate and inform them, to influence the masses, and to lift discouraged spirits. Taking away books was just one of the ways he used to control and intimidate the conquered.

Then the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, and was pulled into the war. As ordinary Americans were drafted and sent for training to become soldiers, librarians across the country came up with a brilliant idea. They wanted to supply all the troops with books to keep their morale up, and to give them a diversion from the horrors of war. Publishers, librarians, Congress and ordinary citizens all worked together to supply soldiers with books, and later to help bring books to Europe.

I absolutely loved this book! It’s rare now to find people that impassioned about books and reading (which is sad).  The letters that the soldiers wrote home, describing the relief that the books brought, were heart-warming. For many, it was a life-line that helped them keep their sanity. Men who had never had an interest in reading were totally hooked on reading by the end of the war. Of all the non-fiction books I have read this past year, this was among my favorite.

 

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