Saturday, April 18, 2009

have you ever wondered?

Have you ever read a book about some everyday person who, in harrowing circumstances, steps forward and sacrifices his/her life for the benefit of others? Have you ever wondered if you could/would do the same thing? Do you have the strength of character to choose death so someone else can live?

Last night, stretched out on my daybed, I finished The boy who dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, a fictionalized version of the live of Helmuth Huebner, a German teenager of the Mormon faith who, after many years in the Hitler youth, realizes the Nazis are doing terrible things to the German people and decides to fight back. With two young friends, he begins distributing pamphlets condemning the Nazis. In secret, the three boys are listening to the BBC radio broadcasts (something outlawed by Hitler and the Nazis) and learning the true story of the battles in the war and the actions of the German government--the pamphlets are based on the information the boys are hearing through the BBC news reports. When the boys are captured, Helmuth steps forward and takes full responsibility for the pamphlet writing and distribution, knowing that it could lead to his execution. Helmuth's friends are sentenced to years of labor in prison but Helmuth is indeed, at 16, condemned to execution by guillotine.

Bartoletti also wrote Hitler Youth: growing up in Hitler's shadow, a Newbery honor book which is a fascinating look at the propoganda/indoctrination techniques used by the Nazis to ensure that German children grow up to be "good" Germans. It is always so disturbing to me what the Nazis did and how they managed to sell their actions to the German people as beneficial to the Fatherland. I simply do not understand the fear and hatred felt towards Jews, gays, gypsies and all of the other targeted groups.

So, I have been pondering my character and wondering if I would be noble or selfish. My gut feeling is self preservation would win out but who knows. I hope I'm never in a position to find out.

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