“The Boy Who Dared” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

“But he’s a madman. How can we support him?”

“We must support our country, especially now, in time of war, and that means supporting our leaders.”

So goes the conversation between teenager Helmut Hubner and his stepfather, a Nazi. Helmut Hubner is a Mormon like his mother and is horrified at the transformation of Germany. He also listens to the BBC on an illegal short-wave radio and with the help of two of his friends circulates pamphlets trying to counter the propoganda in Nazi Germany. He fights for free speech and is against the injustice being perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews. He is also against the gagging of free press, indoctrination, the concentration camps etc. Unfortunately he is captured by the Gestapo and executed.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti has taken one episode from her Newbery Honor Book, Hitler Youth, to create The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth. For this book the author spoke to relatives like Helmut’s half-brother Gerhard Kunkel and other friends and acquaintances who knew the boy. Though this book is historical fiction, it is done so for the ease of writing the narrative, but the author has a detailed bibliography, photographs and a Third Reich time line. The Boy Who Dared can easily be used as a study text in schools. Although this book was first published in 2008 it continues to be in circulation.

It is a must read.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth Scholastic Press, New York, 2008, rpt 2019. Hb. pp. 210. Rs 495.

8 March 2019

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