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Playing with Matches

(Playing with Matches #1)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,289 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Heinz Schultz's word could send a man to prison. Though only a youth of fifteen, he was strong, tall, and blond. The boys in his Deutsches Jungvolk unit esteemed him and feared him.

And they wanted to be just like him.
Emil Radle wanted to be just like him.

A dedicated member of Hitler Youth, Emil was loyal to the Fuehrer before family, a champion for the cause and a fan o
ebook, second, 311 pages
Published November 16th 2012 by ESB Publishing
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  1,289 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Ella Drayton
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Imagine being taught that a certain class of people are evil and a threat to your very way of life. Imagine growing up idolizing the people who helped eradicate that threat from your country. Now imagine learning that everything you thought was true, was good, was actually a lie

Playing With Matches does something I haven't seen before. It tells the story of the Holocaust from the point of view of German boys growing up wanting to join the Nazi army. They are part of the Hitler Youth and believe
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Normally the books I have read are from the Jewish side of the war, now this is a first for me to read a war book from the German side. I wanted to automatically hate Emil and his Family but I couldn't, they were caught up in the Hitler charade to. Not really having a choice but the join the war.

Emil was very young when the war started only 11 or 12 he wanted to be like the older guys from the Hitler Youth. But one day Emil and his friends find a shortwave radio and hear the truth. The boys Emil
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heart breaking story. You forget about the German people who weren't with Hitler but yet had no choice but to abide by the rules set into place. They fought to survive whether in the army or at home starving and working and all struggling. It may be a fictional book but it hits you in the heart because you know that the these things happened to real people and if you think about it, if wasn't that long ago ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“Playing with Matches” by Lee Strauss is a novel about the youth who were a part of Youth Organizations that were started by Hitler in Nazi Germany. It is about their families. This was an excellent story of the other side of Germany in World War II. We always read or hear about the Nazi’s and the atrocities that were committed by command of the Feuhrer. “Playing with Matches” gives us a view of those in Germany who did not want war and who were not fans of Hitler.

This story is about Emil Radle,
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Emil, Moritz and Johann and three friends growing up in Germany. Emil is fascinated by the Hitler Youth and loves going to the meetings. He is anxious to grow up and join the famous Luftwaffe. when his two friend discover a short wave radio, everything changes . Soon they are listening to the truth from BBC. They print flyers that they secretly distribute all over town telling the truth. Johann's sister, Katharina joins them in spite of the fact that they know what they are doing is very dangero ...more
This book was poorly proofread; I find grammar errors in novels a bit distracting. I did like the story, however it seemed fractured at times and I felt like there were things that could have been explored further.
Alex  Baugh
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
Playing with Matches begins in 1938, when Emil Radle is 9 years-old and a member of the Passau (Germany) Deutsches Jungvolk, anxiously awaiting the day he will be old enough to join the Hitler Youth and begin to learn how to fly. Emil wants nothing more than to become a pilot in the German Luftwaffe.

But the Jungvolk is hard work and the leader, Heinz Schultz, likes to pick on Emil's friend Moritz for being weak. Emil is aware that Moritz and their friend Johann aren't really supporters of the R
Zoe Hall
I enjoyed this book. I am not familiar with this author but I will definitely be checking out more of their books. I enjoyed the writing and the characterisation. I do read a lot of books set around this period of history, but rarely do I read books where the central character is coming of age in Hitler’s Germany and also the Hitler Youth movement. A great read! I’m counting it towards my Penguin Read The Year challenge too whose theme is ‘coming of age’ this month.
Kelly Young
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a gripping and compelling story that is difficult to put down. Strauss has crafted a war story that humanizes history in a way that will remain with you long after you are done reading .
I highly recommend this for young and adult readers alike.
Jun 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This story follows three friends from indoctrination into the Hitler Youth to treasonous acts to the front line in Hitlers Germany. The unyielding belief in their leader that starts to crack with the discovery of a radio that allows them to listen to BBC broadcasts that tell them both sides of the story. Having to pretend that they still believe to save themselves and their families from death at the hands of their own country men.

This book was different from almost all I have read when it come
Kirsty Bicknell
In my opinion, Playing With Matches is a story that has been waiting to be told. Books about the Jewish experience of World War Two, whether fiction or non-fiction, are well-known and I am sure that the majority of people reading this review have come across The Diary of Anne Frank or Schindler’s Ark. I think because of this there is an assumption that the lives of ordinary German people were full of unicorns and rainbows – until this book.
Lee Strauss writes Playing With Matches with so much rea
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Emil is growing up in Passau, Germany under Hitler’s rule. He attends his Deutsches Jungvolk meetings with fervor and wants to be a pilot. Emil begins to see the faults in Hitler’s plans as tensions arise and the hatred of the Jewish people grows. Emil’s friends Moritz and Johann discover the truth behind the German propaganda with the BBC news broadcast over a shortwave radio, not everything is going so well for the German’s during the war and fatalities are much worse than reported. The three ...more
Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this novel from NetGalley.

This novel is moving, heart-wrenching and honest, it is almost perfect in its telling of a young boy's progression through the ranks of Nazi's during WW1.

This novel is well written, creative and original, its protagonist is believable and it hurts my heart to realise he is only 16 for the most part of the novel, so young and yet faced with unbelievable tasks. That is the horror of Hitler's reign.

Completely moving, this novel, although aimed at YA readers, is
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

This was a wonderful and yet terribly sad story about a boy in Germany who desperately wants to love his country and yet, as WWII begins and he sees the atrocities around him, he is forced to choose what is truly, morally right. And yet, even as he and his friends fight for what that believe in, he also learns about the simple struggle to survive. So many stories about WWII talk about the trials of the Allies. This book is about the t
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent novel about coming of age during WWII as a young man. I found it touching as the protagonist noted his parents fearing what they said in front of him in case he might turn them in to the Gestapo as one of the other children on the street had done. He and three of his friends begin listening to the BBC on a radio of one friend's brother and writing out the news reports to scatter about town. They swear not to implicate each other should anyone be caught and then that fatal day happens.. ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The story takes places during the World War II, it gives us the Germans view during the war.
At first, a young group of friends are fascinated by the Hitler Youth. Then, they find a shortwave radio and start listening to the BBC on which they hear the brutal truth about the on going of the war. They begin writing flyers and they secretly distribute them all over town. If caught, it would certainly mean death. They fought to survive whether in the army or at home starving due to lack of supplies
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for historical fiction, but I appreciated that the stories and characters in this book were based on actual lives. An interesting perspective of a young nationalist's coming of age, not through choice but by circumstance. The most interesting thing to me was the main character's lingering thoughts about what might be right and wrong despite what he has believed all of his life. Though opposed to the actions he would have to live with, he acts to survive in the hope of a redeemed fut ...more
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Strauss weaves fictional characters throughout the history of the Hitler Youth. She brings to life the brainwashing of these children in school and in their various Hitler Youth groups. Fascinating to see how these 12 & up adolescents would put Fuehrer before family even when their parents instructed otherwise. The story centers around one youth who, with his friends, finds a short-wave radio and learns the truth about the war. Once enlightened, the four of them must learn to survive without let ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
This is an excellent book for young adults. I'm an adult and I could not put it down. Playing With Matches gives a view of war from the citizens who do not favor what the ruling party believes. Sadly, the voices are those of children/teens and tell of the horrors they experienced. The book is dedicated to the author's parents and parent's in-law, who's memories are reflected in the story. ...more
creig speed
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good fictional account

This book was very good and seemed true to history. The biggest crime in history perpetrated by a psychopaths. The German people were swept up by the times after the treaty they were forced to sign. The French should have known it was just an armistice for twenty years.
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about growing up in Germany during WW 2. It was the best way to realize how hard it was for the German people who were not Nazis to live in Germany during the War. This would be a great book for my granddaughters to read when they study about Germany and WW2.
John Crowe-Lockerman
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book told from the side of German youth that did not believe in nor want to fight for Hitler's Dream. It shows their struggles with what is moral and what was expected of them. The things that they did to fight against Hitler's cause, risking death for them and their families by doing so. ...more
Janet Leigh
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Playing with Matches is an intriguing story from the point of view of a German boy. I found the detail of the story compelling and I was surprised to learn of the hardships of the German people during WWII. I recommend this book.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise, but the writing didn't really hold together for me. It was fine, but didn't grasp me the way I think it could have. ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
If I were a much younger reader, I would probably have given this book a higher rating. When I ordered it I had no idea it was a YA book.
brian miller
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Loved this book. I couldn't put it down. If you like historical fiction I recommend this book highly. Definitely a five star book.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is the best book I have read by far. I really felt like I was
inside the story.

Love the story of Emil, his family and the experiences he had
growing up during the war.
Maria Rose
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life in Germany in WW2

Everyone who considers themselves a patriot of their country will find a version of themselves in this novel. I have read many novels describing the different ways that people dealt with the reality of the situation, as my parents were part of that generation, but kept their personal experience with the war under wraps. It was after their deaths did I find out happened with their lives in that time period. In this novel, we given a viewpoint from ordinary citizens of German
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When Lee Strauss describes how Emil and his friends grow up and learn the truth about Nazis you can really relate to Emil, Johann, Moritz and Katharina. It is truly a slow process growing up from prepubescent boy or girl in the 'Jungvolk' to the teenagers who barely survived the WW II or died during this regime. His life in 'Nazi-Deutschland' is shown to us in such a unspectacular way that you see the true history people lived in, children lived in.
'Playing with matches' is a wonderful and sad
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I recommend the book. I got it through Bookbub for free, but the price has nothing to do with my rating. I had read MOTHERLAND by Maria Hummel a few weeks ago and found the books very similar. After readers finish this book, they should immediately read ARMAGEDDON by Leon Uris. Both of the aforementioned books should be on sale at Bookbub or Amazon, but ARMAGEDDON is worth buying at full price.

The present book opens in early 1930's during a global depression. Hitler came out of the masses with a
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126 likes · 4 comments
“They would never forget the war. The world wouldn’t let them, and neither would history.” 0 likes
“Thanks,” Johann finally said. “It’s the irony of war. Those who want to live, die. Those who want to die, live on.” 0 likes
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