Monday, July 18, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that defied Adolf Hitler

We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. 104 p. Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2016. 9780544223790. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library)

Right up front, I will admit my ignorance of the White Rose Movement though it did ring some bells. The arresting cover photo caught my eye on the "New Non-Fiction" shelf at my favorite library and seeing that it was written by Russell Freedman just sealed the deal. Before I even cracked the cover, it went into my book order for the coming school year because anything by Freedman is basically an automatic purchase for me.

In 1943, Hans Scholl was a medical student at university in Munich. He was a former Hitler Youth and regularly needed to leave his studies in order to serve the German military in a variety of capacities, as did his younger sister, Sophie. While initially an enthusiastic participant, he soon became disillusioned with the lock-step order and demand for blind allegiance. An older brother was already serving in the military. He too was critical of Hitler. Scholl formed the secret society and, with the help of a professor, set about printing anti-propaganda leaflets which exhorted the German populace to wake up and take a stand against Hitler's atrocities. 

Succinct and exquisitely written in just over one hundred pages, Freedman weaves an inspiring tale of student activists. It is eerily timely considering the current political climate. He focuses on the Scholl family, specifically Hans and Sophie and their small circle of co-conspirators. He provides historical context. With each step the students take against Hitler, they take one step closer to being caught and tried for treason. Freedman's writing conveys that suspense. The bravery of the three that were captured, Hans, Sophie and Christoph Probst was quite moving. I read the final pages through tears.

Gorgeously designed with plenty of archival photos; meticulously sourced and with plenty of suggested books and films for further reading. We Will Not be Silent is a first-purchase that I cannot recommend enough. This one I will be booktalking frequently. I see a display featuring this, sitting next to The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose and Courage & Defiance by Deborah Hopkinson when we return to school.

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