February 19, 2018

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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman | SLJ Review

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redstarFreedman, Russell. We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler. 112p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Clarion. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544223790. NF-MHS-FREEDMAN-WE WILL NOT BE SILENT

Gr 6-8 –Though the story of the White Rose student resistance in Nazi Germany has been told elsewhere, Freedman’s focus on the youth of the participants will resonate with readers. Hans Scholl, a free-spirited teen who became disillusioned by the enforced conformity of his Hitler Youth group, joined a banned rival group that discussed forbidden books, and there were no uniforms or marching. Younger sister Sophie got in trouble for reading a book by a Jewish German poet and questioning the pervasive anti-Semitism of her society. While attending school in Munich, the siblings became active in a group of anti-Hitler pamphleteers. The story has its share of dark turns, including arrests, lengthy detentions, and the eventual trial and execution by guillotine of Hans and Sophie. But Freedman treats these aspects gracefully, and the overarching message is one of defiant resistance in the face of overwhelming evil. “You will go down in history,” their father, an outspoken pacifist, told them after their conviction. “There is such a thing as justice despite this. I am proud of both of you.” Stock photos from the period are adeptly interspersed with personal snapshots and portraits to create a strong visual component. VERDICT A highly readable and well-documented overview of a fascinating aspect of World War II.–Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2016 issue.

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  1. Judy Suchocki says:

    This is a wonderful book. It would cause much anxiety in almost every 6th grader I know. The description of the beheading of Sophie, Hans and Christoph by guillotine is graphic and disturbing. “Two guards on either side of Sophie held her in place. Five seconds after she entered the chamber, the blade was released. It dropped with a dull thud. Sophi Scholl was dead at the age of twenty-one. Hans followed her into the chamber. He was twenty-four. Finally, Christoph, twenty-three and the father of three, was beheaded.” It is appropriate for high school students.