Synopses & Reviews
Already hailed as “magnificent . . . some of the best historical writing about the aftermath of the war I have ever read . . . stunning” (The Guardian)
, Witnesses of War
breaks new ground in its exploration of the lives and the fate of children of all nationalities under the Nazi regime.
Children were at the center of Nazi ideology; now we have their history of those years. Their stories open a world we have never seen before. War came home to children as a set of events without precedent, spectacular and terrifying by turns. As the Nazis overran Europe, children were saved or damned according to their race. Precious few remained unscathed during the war, and most suffered a moment that overturned their lives. For some, it was the evacuation to become junior colonists in the East; for others, it was the onset of heavy bombing, the separation of families or learning to keep their parents alive by smuggling food, creating black markets and devising their own escape networks. Some herded women waiting to be shot. Girls manned flak batteries; boys confronted Soviet tanks.
Drawing on an untouched wealth of original material – school assignments; juvenile diaries; letters from evacuation camps, reformatories and asylums; letters to fathers at the front lines; even accounts of childrens games Nicholas Stargardt breaks stereotypes of victimhood and trauma to give us the gripping individual stories of the generation Hitler made.
"Handicapped German children taken from their families before WWII, girls of all nations raped by marauding soldiers, Jewish children shoved into ghettos: as Stargardt shows in this well-researched and horrific history, the lives of children were ravaged by Hitler's goals and the war he produced. Like Lynn Nicholas in her recent and also excellent Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web, Stargardt, a historian at Oxford, tells his story through the children's eyes using diaries and oral histories as well as other documentary sources. To be a child during the war, he notes, could be both easier and harder than it was to be an adult. Children often proved more resilient in overcoming physical and mental injuries. At the same time, they lacked the ability to directly express the pain that was haunting their dreams. Perhaps most unusual is Stargardt's illumination of how the Nazi regime affected German children, from those (who today would be called at-risk children) sent away to be 're-educated' to the idealized Hitler Youth sent to die in battle; it's a sharp and taut account of misery. 16 pages of b&w photos, 6 maps. Agent, Clare Alexander." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This text breaks new ground in its exploration of the lives and fate of the children of all nationalities under the Nazi regime.
About the Author
Nicholas Stargardt is the son of a German-Jewish father and Australian mother. Born in Melbourne, he has lived in Australia, Japan, England and Germany. He studied at Kings College, Cambridge, and is a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he teaches modern European history. Witnesses of War is his second book; his first, The German Idea of Militarism, was published in 1994. He has written widely on the history of modern Germany, political and social thought and the Holocaust. He has two sons and is married to the historian Lyndal Roper.