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Witnesses of War: Children's Lives Under the Nazis
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Witnesses of War: Children's Lives Under the Nazis

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  110 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Children were at the center of the Nazi ideology; now we have their history of those years. In this groundbreaking study–based on a wide range of new sources–Nicholas Stargardt details what happened to children of all nationalities and religions living under the Nazi regime. Their stories open a world we have never seen before. As the Nazis overran Europe, children were sa ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Vintage (first published June 28th 2005)
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May 28, 2007 Sue rated it really liked it
Wow. I've read a number of books about WWII Germany and what the Nazis did. But this is the first time that I actually started having dreams/nightmares about that time period. This book talks about a number of children and what they experienced during the war. Jews, "Aryans" and others had a variety of experiences - some good, some bad - and it really put a human face on the story.

I hadn't realized just how many people died of starvation - prisoners, mental patients, the mentally and physically
Ann Freeman
Nov 22, 2010 Ann Freeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely meticulously researched, this book deals with the effects of Nazi propaganda, war, and deprivation on those who were children in the WWII years. The author uses original materials from the time as much as possible (children's diaries, letters to fathers/brothers serving, children's artwork, adult descriptions of children's games and school activities) as well as later adult recollections of their childhoods, which of course are colored by the knowledge of history after the fact. The au ...more
Feb 13, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-wwii
Engaging read about the experience of children during WW II. Far more engaging than Cruel World. Stargardt focuses on all children, spending equal time with the German children as well as the children of occupied countries. He deals with the build up to the war as well its aftermath.
Katherine Addison
This is a book about how children experience and understand war. Stargardt looks at the experiences in Nazi-occupied Europe of Jewish children, Polish children, Czech children, German children--some of them Nazis, some of them "juvenile delinquents" (this term includes an eight-year-old girl sent to the reformatory because she was being sexually abused--in the view of the child psychology of the day (and not just Nazi, either), she "seduced" the teenage boys and adult men who abused her), others ...more
Claudia Moscovici
Dec 10, 2014 Claudia Moscovici rated it it was amazing

Children were the most innocent casualties of WWII. Killed in concentration camps, orphaned by battles throughout Europe, languishing from starvation, destroyed by disease, targeted for their race, traumatized by violence, tens of millions of children throughout European countries suffered and died. Nicholas Stargardt’s informative and well-documented book, Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives Under the Nazis (New York: Vintage Books, 2007) draws upon children’s school assignments, journals and le
An interesting and necessary subject, with rather a less successful execution. The experience of children during the Holocaust turns out not to differ too widely from that of adults, which has been extensively recorded and analyzed. Thus much of this information seems familiar, even when Stargardt is careful to document the lives of both German and Jewish children (an equanimity that's much appreciated). Nothing here is all that revelatory; a perfunctory overview of daily lived experiences, a cu ...more
Jennifer Gelert
Oct 23, 2014 Jennifer Gelert rated it really liked it
This was a very long and intense book. Looking at the war through the eyes of all children - Jew, Polish, German and so on. How the horrors shaped them and made it hard for them to function in the real world. The trauma of starving, bombings, thirst and the fear of what the Nazis and the Red Army could do to them. Even in their playing those horrors took center stage. From Jewish children at family camp concentration camps acting out gas chamber, to German children playing rape and shooting squa ...more
Catherine Gillespie
Having read widely on the topic of World War II, especially recently, I found that Witnesses of War still stood out for it’s unique perspective in tracing the events of World War II and its aftermath through the eyes of children involved in the conflict. From kids who grew to teenagers in the Hitler Youth to children from the ghettos and concentration camps, the book looks at diaries, letters, and drawings to build a narrative of how the war looked to impressionable and adaptable young people.

One does not see many books which concentrate on wars' effects on the young. This book, like "Cruel World" by Lynn H. Nicholas, does just that. "Witnesses of War" covers both Aryan children and their buy in to Nazi propaganda and those children who were on the other side as it were. What really comes out in the end is Germans were a lot more aware of what was going on but suppressed it. It was when they were being bombed in 1943 and 44 that they began to think it was because of what Nazi Germany ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
This book is disturbing as anything with Holocaust content would be. Some of the things discussed are uncomfortable but the book gives a good picture (sometimes in first hand accounts) of what life for European children was like under the Nazi regime. It talks about the persecuted and those on the other side. It's definitely a fascinating yet sad account of the sort of brutality that went on during those years.
Mar 18, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The research underpinning this highly original book is profound and the data in the narrative are very precise. The author presents a very harrowing and deeply moving account of the experience of children during the Nazi era in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, covering the awful events involved in the second world war. Recommended reading for anyone who values the freedom we enjoy at the present time.
Maureen Mahowald
Apr 03, 2012 Maureen Mahowald rated it liked it
Like "The Hunger Games" this book is about an evil government taking children away from their parents and placing them into a fight for their lives. Unfortunately, this book is based upon fact, not fiction. It provides a sobering historical account of the lives of children during WWII.
Apr 03, 2008 Travis marked it as to-read
One of the books I had to buy for a WW2 class I took. The selections I read were well put together. It's always nice to find scholarship on the Second World War that deals with these little niche issues -- just one more reminder of how much there is left untold.
Jan 11, 2011 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has alot of good information, but I had trouble getting through all the "dry data". Interesting view of the war and occupation through eyes of children.
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