Review Blog

May 13 2009

Auslander by Paul Dowswell

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2009
(Ages 12+) Living in Poland with his German parents, Peter has only an inkling of what it means to be an outsider, a foreigner, when the German army comes racing through the countryside, killing and looting. After his parents are killed by a German tank, he is sent to an orphanage, but his German background and Aryan looks serve him well and he is adopted by a high ranking German professor of Eugenics at Berlin University.
Here he learns first hand that he must support the Nazi regime. At 14 he must join the Hitler-Jugend (Hitler youth) and be involved in patriotic things they do, as they become more and more allied to supporting the war effort. Peter meets Anna, and when she feels she can trust him, invites him to join her family supporting Jewish people hiding in the city. Peter's ideas of being an outsider, allied with his questioning of what Hitler is doing, alongside the news he hears which contradicts what the Hitler Youth is saying, sees him query the regime more and more. He and Anna visit a cafe where American music is played and must run for their lives when it is raided. His guardian bans him from playing Mendelssohn, then one day the older sister, Elsbeth, tells him what she has been doing as a nurse.
A page turning thriller, Auslander tells younger readers just how the Nazi regime put its ideas about a pure race into practice. Told against the background of the encroaching British and American armies, the story is exciting and involving, showing how some people rebelled against the Nazi order.
Fran Knight

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