DEFYING THE NAZIS by Hermann Vinke


The Life of German Officer Wilm Hosenfeld, Young Readers Edition
by ; translated by
Age Range: 12 - 18
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The first biography in English of a conflicted, quietly heroic German officer stationed in Warsaw during World War II who saved dozens of people from the Nazis.

Wilm Hosenfeld kept a journal and wrote copious letters home both during the war years and, later, as a Soviet prisoner of war. These became the foundation for this young readers’ edition, translated from the German, of a work for adults. Through excerpts of his writing, readers gain an appreciation of Hosenfeld’s opinions of German conduct in Warsaw. Avoiding any whitewashing, Hosenfeld is shown in all his nationalist fervor but also as a decent man who had a basic respect for all his fellow beings and one increasingly appalled by Nazi policies; the occupation “has degenerated into excessive, inhuman, mass slaughter contrary to the ideals of a cultured nation...the inhuman treatment can never be justified,” he wrote. What he couldn’t put in his journal was the aid he rendered to dozens of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of Nazi tyranny, most famously Wladyslaw Szpilman, subject of the movie “The Pianist.” In 2009, Hosenfeld was named one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. Solid writing and photographs throughout bring the story of this complex individual to life.

Hosenfeld wrote, “I always see the person in front of me and a boundless compassion overcomes me”; this work is a fitting tribute. (map, glossary, character list, timeline, resources, index) (Biography. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-59572-759-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Star Bright
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2018


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