Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair: Inside the 1944 Plot To Kill Hitler and the Ghost Children of His Revenge

National Geographic. Jan. 2021. 144p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781426338540.
Gr 7 Up–A compelling account of the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler in 1944 and the brutal aftermath of the plot’s failure. The text begins with an overview of how Hitler utilized a blend of personality, propaganda, and fear to assume total control of the German government after the death of Chancellor Hindenburg in 1932. The majority of people living under Hitler’s regime who objected to his rule were terrified to express dissent because of his policy of retaliation. When prominent military men attempted to assassinate Hitler at his retreat known as the Wolf’s Lair in the Valkyrie plot and failed, Hitler’s retribution was particularly brutal. The German word Sippenhaft, which means “clan arrest” but is usually translated as “family punishment,” epitomizes the scale of Hitler’s revenge on the Valkyrie participants and their families. Forty-six children from 19 high-ranking Nazi families who survived the beginnings of the Sippenhaft were sent to a tourist town in central Germany called Bad Sachsa. The children were forbidden to use their family names, to enroll in school, to go to church, or even to speak when outdoors. A time line, a list of the Sippenhaft families, a resource guide, a note from the author, and research notes are included.
VERDICT A well-researched, detailed account of a part of World War II that remains unknown to many today. For those who enjoyed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

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