Like most other Germans Helmuth Hübener is glad when Adolf Hitler is elected as leader of Germany. Hitler has plans for Germany, and he seems determined to help Germany recover from its national depression and become a great country again. “Hitler will get Germany out of this mess! No more unemployment! No more inflation! He will bring jobs! Food for our tables!” the people say. But not everyone supports Hitler. Some protest that Hitler is a madman, a lunatic who is sure to bring war and suffering to Germany.
No one can agree, and when Hitler is elected as chancellor, half of the people Helmuth knows rejoice, while the other half feel a sense of foreboding. Helmuth doesn’t know what to think at first, but as he sees the effects of Nazism take over, he begins to feel disgust toward Hitler and his national party. Hitler and his Nazi party spread anti-Semitic doctrine, claiming that all Jews are evil. Hitler and the Nazi’s want a Jew-free Germany, and these attitudes spread through the German people, even reaching the Hitler Youth group that rules Helmuth’s school yard.
As time passes and Hitler and his party become increasingly cruel toward the Jewish people living in Germany, Helmuth wishes that he could do something to change the situation. Hitler takes away the freedoms of the German people, and most of them stop supporting him, but they don’t dare do anything to oppose him.
So Helmuth finds his own way to oppose the German government. As World War II rages, and the German government spreads propaganda and outright lies over the radio, Helmuth uses a special shortwave radio to tune in to British stations, where the truth is reported.
Helmuth trusts the British radio news, because it has full transparency. The British announce their own losses as well as the German losses. So Helmuth begins using an old typewriter to write pamphlets containing the real British news, as well as exposing the lies and brutality of the German government.
But Helmuth must be careful, for he knows that if he is caught, or exposed, the results will be just as swift and brutal as Hitler’s treatment of the Jews.
“The Boy Who Dared” is fascinating from a historical point of view. Helmuth’s heroic decision to do what he could to fight Hitler is admirable, and the book that Susan Campbell has written about his life is poignant and educational at the same time. The novel feels very genuine, and shows a different side of Germany, from the point of view of a German living under Hitler’s rule.
I would definitely recommend “The Boy Who Dared” as historical fiction that everyone should read.
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