STARS AND SWASTIKAS by Walter Schroder


The Boy Who Wore Two Uniforms
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 Unsophisticated yet engrossing memoir about a remarkable childhood and adolescence. Schroder's German parents came to the US to escape the chaos of post-WW I Germany, but while their son grew up American, the family remained very German, buying him German toy soldiers to play with and returning to the homeland for vacations. When his father found employment in Hitler's reviving Germany, Schroder returned and joined the Hitler Youth. At 15, he became one of Hitler's teenage soldiers, and his description of these young combatants meeting Allied paratroopers in a small engagement at the end of the war reveals how Hitler subverted youth's spirit of play and sport: The teenagers proceeded innocently through the battle, displaying no normal adult fear or even caution, until their surrender. Taken prisoner, the author eventually faced yet another incredible adjustment--released from POW camp, he was ordered to report for induction into the US Army (where he ate his first full meal in months). Through all this, Schroder bobs like an unsinkable cork, sane, reasonable, and cooperative, a true survivor--and, like any true survivor, reveals himself to be essentially apolitical, never scrutinizing his shifting loyalties, at least not here. Lack of deep emotion makes this a curious memoir, but the splitting of Schroder's family by the division of Germany, and his recurrent dreams of his father (whom he loves too much to question) give some dimension at the end. Solid, fact-oriented, and conventional, Schroder is by no means a born writer, but those interested in the period will find his reminiscences worthwhile.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1992
ISBN: 0-208-02322-4
Page count: 202pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992