Ashley Burke's Reviews > The Boy Who Dared

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
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Apr 20, 2012

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The novel is based on the true story of a Hitler youth. Helmuth Hubener is a German schoolboy who, in the beginning, shows unwavering patriotism to Germany. As time progresses Jews are threatened and their businesses are destroyed. Hemuth’s world turns upside down: “Patriotism means denouncing others, love means hate, and speaking out means treason.” Helmuth must decide where his loyalties lie, and face what is right versus wrong. The story is told through flashbacks as Helmuth waits execution in his cell for listening to a foreign radio station and distributing the news heard in connection with conspiracy to commit high treason and treasonable support of the enemy. While in prison, Helmuth reflects back to recent times and the events that lead to the punishment of death and the loss of civil rights during his lifetime.
Helmuth originally is in support of Hitler becoming the leader of the National Socialist Part as the new chancellor of the Reich. When the news is heard, Helmuth swells at the big news. He believes that Hitler will end unemployment and inflation. Helmuth writes in his final paper on National Socialism, he write, “A plutocracy is a selfish government controlled by the wealthy. But National Socialism is a selfless government. A good Nazi works for the good of the Fatherland, not for self-interest and self-gain. A good Nazi is a good soldier for the Fatherland, one who can lead as well as follow.” As time passes, and as Helmuth becomes older, he realizes that he was wrong. He realizes that Hitler is not bringing about these things; rather he is bringing about hardship to the Jews, and to Germany. Those who speak out against Hitler are punished. Radio stations that are not German are band and those who are caught listening are severely punished. Helmuth argues, “Arresting people for their beliefs is a crime” as well as “taking away our freedoms is a crime.” He breaks the Radio Law and listens to the BBC news. After listening to the news, he is shocked how the British disclose actual losses, whereas the RRG never does. He realizes it makes the British reports seem more truthful, more accurate, and that infuriates him. A good family friend, Heinrich Worbs is arrested and tortured for spouting off about a Nazi statue. Helmuth realizes the danger of listening to the radio, but continues to listen in to the BBC. Helmuth rations that God gave him the ability to think for himself, and yet he fears that what he knows is right. He longs to share the truth with his close friends, and soon he does just that.
Helmuth and friends Rudi and Karl, after listening to the radio often, decided that the Germans are in the wrong and are being led by the unjust leadership of Hitler. They band together and decided to tell others of the news they are hearing. Helmuth creates pamphlets of information and together the boys distribute the pamphlets wherever they are able. As time progresses they take more risks as to where they distribute the pamphlets and risk more of their safety, and lives. The boys make a pact that if someone is caught, they will under no circumstances release the names of those involved. Helmuth soon is caught and taken with Gestapo agents to be questioned. He is questioned concerning the pamphlets and those who were also involved. Though he tries to remain strong, the torture eventually wins and Helmuth realizes that he must not hold out; he must not die; he must live to take the blame, to save Karl and Rudi. Helmuth does end up saving the lives of Rudi and Karl. He takes full responsibility for the conspiracy, which leaves Karl and Rudi with five and four years of imprisonment and Helmuth with a death sentence, “he did the right thing. He knows he did. Otherwise, the justice would execute them all;” Helmuth saved his friends and stood up for all that he believed was right. At the age of seventeen, Helmuth uncovered the censored truth, faced danger, and died speaking and defending what was right.

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