The Edelweiss Pirates is a powerful, eye-opening story of a group of German teenagers who fought against the expectations of young people under the Nazi regime. Instead of continuing with the Hitler Youth, 14-year-old Josef takes a risk and leaves to join a secret gang – the Edelweiss Pirates. These teens are cool with long hair, their own style and a strong desire to be themselves.
What at first seems like fun soon becomes dangerous. The police don’t like their apparent disrespect for the Fuhrer and the Fatherland. They’re suspicious of young people who don’t conform and who question the power they hold. But Josef and his friends are finding happiness in a horrific situation. They are true to themselves and won’t let anyone tell them otherwise.
As life in Germany becomes harsher and the war progresses, they decide to fight back against their own government and the war effort of the Nazis. Secret plans for their own war effort mean any moment could be their last. If they are caught, all is lost. If they succeed, they just might turn the tide of the war and convince the people of Germany to stand up to the evil men creating a life of fear and control.
This story is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Daniel who meets the elderly Josef long after the war is over. For reasons he does not explain, Josef decides to share his teenage diary with Daniel. Somehow Daniel is connected to the Edelweiss Pirates and Josef’s story has an impact on him that will stay with him forever as he realises the most important things in life: air to breathe, a path to walk, a song to sing, and freedom.
This young adult novel is a fascinating glimpse into a side of the German story that is seldom told. It breaks down stereotypes of Germans during the Second World War and shows us that not everyone was on the side of the Nazis. Life was difficult everywhere in Europe and the German people struggled to survive, just like everyone else. The Edelweiss Pirates were inspirational young people who proved that doing what is right is always the best course of action, no matter what the risk.
Thank you to Pushkin Children’s Books for this powerful story!
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