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Based on a true story about a young boy growing up under the Third Reich. Karl Veth, the oldest of three children, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. By the time he was old enough to start school and begin his education, Hitler had already established a firm death-grip on the country. Children were fed a steady diet of Nazi propaganda and were often encouraged to turn o Based on a true story about a young boy growing up under the Third Reich. Karl Veth, the oldest of three children, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. By the time he was old enough to start school and begin his education, Hitler had already established a firm death-grip on the country. Children were fed a steady diet of Nazi propaganda and were often encouraged to turn on their family and friends but contrary to popular belief, not all of them bought into it. Karl is an intelligent young boy who strives to excel in his studies, but he questions everything. Dangerous questions during a time when people are closely monitored. Karl’s father and grandfather are not blind followers and they have their own opinions about Hitler and his regime. The lessons they teach Karl often contradict what he is taught in school, yet they also inspire him to think on his own and form his own opinions. German law mandates that all children must become members of the Hitler Youth and at the age of 10, Karl enters the Jungvolk, the junior branch of the Hitler Youth. He must wade through the propaganda and everything he is taught to decide for himself what is right and what it wrong. Little does he know at the time, but many of his grandfather’s predictions about the future of the Third Reich will eventually come to pass. The lessons he learns now and the opinions he forms will determine his fate in dangerous times ahead. Children To A Degree is the first book in a four-book series. Karl's incredible story continues in: Loyal To A Degree Trust To A Degree Partners To A Degree


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Based on a true story about a young boy growing up under the Third Reich. Karl Veth, the oldest of three children, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. By the time he was old enough to start school and begin his education, Hitler had already established a firm death-grip on the country. Children were fed a steady diet of Nazi propaganda and were often encouraged to turn o Based on a true story about a young boy growing up under the Third Reich. Karl Veth, the oldest of three children, was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. By the time he was old enough to start school and begin his education, Hitler had already established a firm death-grip on the country. Children were fed a steady diet of Nazi propaganda and were often encouraged to turn on their family and friends but contrary to popular belief, not all of them bought into it. Karl is an intelligent young boy who strives to excel in his studies, but he questions everything. Dangerous questions during a time when people are closely monitored. Karl’s father and grandfather are not blind followers and they have their own opinions about Hitler and his regime. The lessons they teach Karl often contradict what he is taught in school, yet they also inspire him to think on his own and form his own opinions. German law mandates that all children must become members of the Hitler Youth and at the age of 10, Karl enters the Jungvolk, the junior branch of the Hitler Youth. He must wade through the propaganda and everything he is taught to decide for himself what is right and what it wrong. Little does he know at the time, but many of his grandfather’s predictions about the future of the Third Reich will eventually come to pass. The lessons he learns now and the opinions he forms will determine his fate in dangerous times ahead. Children To A Degree is the first book in a four-book series. Karl's incredible story continues in: Loyal To A Degree Trust To A Degree Partners To A Degree

30 review for Children to a Degree: Growing Up Under the Third Reich: Book 1

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Sayre

    If you want to find out what life was like in Nazi Germany as a young boy, then this book will show you. You feel the author is drawing from personal experiences to create this story. I read several reviews of the book and yes the author is not a master of prose, nor does he create long beautiful or mind blowing descriptions of events, places or people. Even so, the words are from experience and the author succeeds in transporting you to a different time, and a different place. The simple story If you want to find out what life was like in Nazi Germany as a young boy, then this book will show you. You feel the author is drawing from personal experiences to create this story. I read several reviews of the book and yes the author is not a master of prose, nor does he create long beautiful or mind blowing descriptions of events, places or people. Even so, the words are from experience and the author succeeds in transporting you to a different time, and a different place. The simple story telling is very effective and the result is a journey worth taking. In fact, I must say I found this particular book much more enjoyable than many recent books which feature over bloated prose and never-ending descriptions and finally end up on a road to nowhere. This is genuine story telling. I look forward to the other books in the series!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Enrique Alvarez

    I love the read. It took me away from everyday life, and at the same time it brought back to present and the propaganda that we are hearing today. I just couldn't help making the connection. I hope that we have learned from the past and not let repeat.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary Virginia

    Wow! What an interesting insight into the indoctrination of the children in Germany during the war years. This book opened my eyes and made me think about how I view things today. I learned a lot and can't wait to read the next book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Midwood

    I love reading historical accounts written by people who actually lived through the events, and particularly when it comes to my main sphere of interest, WW2. “Children to a Degree” is a wonderful research source for everyone who wants to know what life was like for German children during the war. I’ve known quite a bit about the structure and principles of both Hitlerjugend and BDM, but I was particularly astonished at the amount of indoctrination that went into the poor children’s heads as you I love reading historical accounts written by people who actually lived through the events, and particularly when it comes to my main sphere of interest, WW2. “Children to a Degree” is a wonderful research source for everyone who wants to know what life was like for German children during the war. I’ve known quite a bit about the structure and principles of both Hitlerjugend and BDM, but I was particularly astonished at the amount of indoctrination that went into the poor children’s heads as young as eight years old. Military discipline, drilled into them during classes instead of valuable lessons; current military reports from the front instead of history; political indoctrination that soon starts mudding the minds of even the most uncorrupted boys. And yet, in spite of this police state regime imposed on the population, two childhood friends somehow manage to keep their humanity and not lose their innocence in a world ravaged by the war. Wonderfully written with attention to the tiniest details, “Children to a Degree” is a must read for all history buffs. Highly recommended!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Knipp

    This book is fiction, based on a true story, I gasped often and was so saddened about the life of these boys, my heart aches when reading this, and at the same time I can't put it down, I must see these boys thru. I believe I have never read an account from the eyes of children thrown into this battle. A must read that you will not be sorry to pick up. The moral dilemma is a strong one, worth the read and I will not let this book leave my library.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Carsins

    Amazing Book--Definitively a Must-Read! I grew up hearing the Hitler stories about Germany and the horrors of the war on Jews, and on the people that refused to fall in with the Nazi propaganda and Hitler's regime. I wondered what was wrong with a country that a whole race of people could turn their backs on their fellow humans, and set out to destroy so many innocent people--Jewish, Germans, and friends, family, and neighbors. This book gives me a bit of an idea that not all Germans can be lumpe Amazing Book--Definitively a Must-Read! I grew up hearing the Hitler stories about Germany and the horrors of the war on Jews, and on the people that refused to fall in with the Nazi propaganda and Hitler's regime. I wondered what was wrong with a country that a whole race of people could turn their backs on their fellow humans, and set out to destroy so many innocent people--Jewish, Germans, and friends, family, and neighbors. This book gives me a bit of an idea that not all Germans can be lumped together as bad, any more than any other group can be labeled unworthy of living. I have discovered that there were good people, good children--more mature than most at their age-- with grown-up responsibilities forced upon them by their German culture, doing the best that they could to hold onto their own values and beliefs, and to survive and find a way to continue with their lives in a volatile country at war. There's always another side to every story, and while my heart still goes out to the people that were persecuted and killed needlessly, I also think about the young German children that had no choice, but to meet the expectations forced on them to conform, and to grow up and assume adult responsibilities before the age of fourteen. How horrifying to have to always watch whatever you say or do, or whom you are seen with, because it could be the death of you if the Gestapo were displeased with some thing or other that you did innocently, and to lose loved ones or acquaintances that way--here one day, disappeared the next! Thank you Horst Christian, for shining a light on a subject that's haunted me since we were forced to read the "Diary of Anne Frank" as school children, and we were forced to view some of the most horrific photographs of liberated Jewish camps, and the human remains found there. Why do schools traumatize children with horrendous histories of past atrocities? I've spent so much time weeping for past and present atrocities. Your story is a shining star in an otherwise black inky night. I wish I'd known your story decades ago. You give me hope for humanities future. I'm sorry that you had to grow up so quickly, but I believe that you helped a lot of children that were lucky to have you there to guide and protect them. Thank you!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Fenriz Angelo

    This book wants to be historical fiction, teaching us how nazism indoctrinated children since early age (8yo) by sending them to either the Napola or the KLV camps. This is a great premise and the book would have been very interesting if it weren't for the null writing style and the kind of dialogs you always hear in TV soap operas (ex: -Oh Marie we need to get a house, -Oh! good thing the new government is now helping us get cheap credits so we can afford a small house, -Oh really? where do i a This book wants to be historical fiction, teaching us how nazism indoctrinated children since early age (8yo) by sending them to either the Napola or the KLV camps. This is a great premise and the book would have been very interesting if it weren't for the null writing style and the kind of dialogs you always hear in TV soap operas (ex: -Oh Marie we need to get a house, -Oh! good thing the new government is now helping us get cheap credits so we can afford a small house, -Oh really? where do i ask for the credit?, -You can go...). It was an O.K read if you want to know a little bit more how german civilians lived in Nazi germany without grabbing a real history book dedicated to it. But don't expect to take much care of the characters or get emotionally invested on the story regardless of the theme.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    Growing Up Under Third Reich book #1 “Children to a Degree”, a prequel to “Loyal to a Degree”, is based on a true story, its 191 pages recounts how young boys by the time they were old enough to start school were fed a steady diet of propaganda under the Third Reich and often encouraged to turn on family, friends and neighbours. The author has created a captivating fiction taken from his experiences while living in Germany during the 30’sand 40’s. His simple prose and dialogue are very down to ea Growing Up Under Third Reich book #1 “Children to a Degree”, a prequel to “Loyal to a Degree”, is based on a true story, its 191 pages recounts how young boys by the time they were old enough to start school were fed a steady diet of propaganda under the Third Reich and often encouraged to turn on family, friends and neighbours. The author has created a captivating fiction taken from his experiences while living in Germany during the 30’sand 40’s. His simple prose and dialogue are very down to earth and tell us what happened to boys during that time. Where he excels is in the strong descriptions of events he gives us. His soft words are so effective that we can easily have the feeling being transported in time and place. Following Karl and Howard, two young boys, is an fascinating journey where we also see the roles of men and women in the Third Reich, the draconian system imposed on the population, the disappearance into camps, the punishment on those who stepped the wrong way, I will not elaborate further since many books recount this terrible time. I had many opportunities to question myself: why was this allowed to happen. This novel is more than an interesting insight into the indoctrination of the children in Germany during the war years, it also highlights how scared the parents were and how strongly they wanted to protect their children by submitting to the regime desire. (Actually they had little choice). This is definitely a story said from the heart.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda Branich

    Based on a true story, I was completely drawn in by this story of a young boy growing up in Berlin under Hitler's master plan. If you capture and control the minds of the youth, eliminate nonconformists, and create massive fear of anything and everyone, create a climate where the necessities of life are no longer readily available, break down the family unit by separating children from their parents in order to make them loyal to the government instead of their blood roots, you can change the who Based on a true story, I was completely drawn in by this story of a young boy growing up in Berlin under Hitler's master plan. If you capture and control the minds of the youth, eliminate nonconformists, and create massive fear of anything and everyone, create a climate where the necessities of life are no longer readily available, break down the family unit by separating children from their parents in order to make them loyal to the government instead of their blood roots, you can change the whole climate of a nation. Horst Christian shows this taking place in the life of his main character, in very graphic detail. We see a mother who has swallowed up everything the Fueher says hook, line, and sinker, and a father who disagrees with Hitler and encourages his son to talk to his WWI veteran grandfather. This old, wise, and experienced man states his definitive feelings by asking his grandson questions, giving him assignments, teaching him to think and reason, and then act upon what is right and according to his conscience very, carefully and subtly. Survival during this time is difficult, and this young boy is forced to make grown-up decisions way before his time. There is more to the story found in other books, and I will seek them out. Despite the subject, the book is filled with humor in the midst of an ever darkening time, and values that are fast disappearing today--respect for posessions and people, a desire to gain knowledge and succeed in one's studies or job because it is RIGHT to do your best, discerning the consequences of one's actions and the situations we place or find ourselves in, and learning to make the most of less than ideal conditions.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I enjoyed reading this perspective of Germany's WWII children prior to their entrance into the Hitler Youth. While this work and series is fiction, it is based upon actual people and events, so the portrait is reflective. Christian's prose style, while not elaborate, is effective, and would make for good reading in a 7th or 8th grade history class. It is of noteworthy importance, that editor Nicole Etolen's first language cannot be English, as there are numerous misuses of verbiage and article a I enjoyed reading this perspective of Germany's WWII children prior to their entrance into the Hitler Youth. While this work and series is fiction, it is based upon actual people and events, so the portrait is reflective. Christian's prose style, while not elaborate, is effective, and would make for good reading in a 7th or 8th grade history class. It is of noteworthy importance, that editor Nicole Etolen's first language cannot be English, as there are numerous misuses of verbiage and article adjectives frequently committed by English language learners; however, they do not detract from the story. I read this story slowly, taking the time to absorb Germany's operations for their youth, as well as their expectations of their children. Like England, Germany protected their young progeny by sending them off to the countryside, which is where we see Karl flourish, in spite of his rather oxymoronic stance against competition. The insight to Germany's position on commercialism, advertising, and how they expected tertiary services to be delivered juxtaposed against Harold's actions were rather intriguing. The treatment of left-handers appalled me, as did Germany's non-expectation of women, but their dedication to precision and order and how that dedication was instilled was insightfully provided. The ending was a little abrupt, but was timely done. There are many likeable characters in the story, and as I want to know what happened to several of the characters, I am weighing whether to continue reading or just let the Veths, Harold, and Peter live with this one reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carol Arnold

    Very Interesting! This was a very interesting book about growing up in the Third Reich. It is the prequel to the series, Loyal to a Degree, Partners to a Degree and Trust to a Degree. I have not read these, but after reading the prequel, I would like to. The setting of this book is during the early years of Hitler's reign of terror. As such it does not have the horrific stories normally associated with Hitler's Germany. People have started disappearing but for the most part, no one really knows w Very Interesting! This was a very interesting book about growing up in the Third Reich. It is the prequel to the series, Loyal to a Degree, Partners to a Degree and Trust to a Degree. I have not read these, but after reading the prequel, I would like to. The setting of this book is during the early years of Hitler's reign of terror. As such it does not have the horrific stories normally associated with Hitler's Germany. People have started disappearing but for the most part, no one really knows what is happening. There are a lot of suspicion and a lot of conflict. This story is fiction but based on real life events. It is the story of Karl and Howard, two friends growing up in Berlin in the early 1940's. Karl's mother believes that Hitler is surely the savior of Germany. Karl's father and grandfather are wiser. This book shares many interesting highlights of this time period that I never knew before. For example, boys who were left handed were severely punished in an effort to make them right handed. However, girls were not punished. If you want to know the reason, read the book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    MaryD

    A fictional account of a young man growing up in Nazi Germany, but it's based on actual people & events. The writing is rather choppy, maybe because the author was remembering the events in German? It's as if the story was poorly translated from another language. That said, it was fascinating to learn how boys, especially, were raised & trained under the Third Reich. A fictional account of a young man growing up in Nazi Germany, but it's based on actual people & events. The writing is rather choppy, maybe because the author was remembering the events in German? It's as if the story was poorly translated from another language. That said, it was fascinating to learn how boys, especially, were raised & trained under the Third Reich.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Yanper

    The story itself was really interesting. It bothered me the perfectness of the child from one side and the naiveness of the adults and especially Nazi adults on the other side. Only his relatives were not naive so as to make a perfect family. On the other hand the information of every day life during the era of the Third Reich was interesting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    The characters were too sympathetic to make any moral reader comfortable. They were fighting for country, but for the Nazis. They were trying to raise their families, or grow up, and in order to do that they promoted Nazi ends. The only part that was comforting was that the grandfather's foundation in the principles of history allowed him not to be taken in by that evil regime.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Keeler

    Children To A Degree by Horst Christian has a subtitle on the cover which might not attract the general reader. “Growing Up Under the Third Reich,” can evoke a reaction of “ho-hum, another apologetic story of WWII Germany.” Some might think it is a work of complete fiction. As the author points out (turn the page) this work of fiction is based on a true story. I found this on sale at Amazon for USD 0.00 as of 10 December 10, 2017, and was pleased to note this is the first in a series of four abo Children To A Degree by Horst Christian has a subtitle on the cover which might not attract the general reader. “Growing Up Under the Third Reich,” can evoke a reaction of “ho-hum, another apologetic story of WWII Germany.” Some might think it is a work of complete fiction. As the author points out (turn the page) this work of fiction is based on a true story. I found this on sale at Amazon for USD 0.00 as of 10 December 10, 2017, and was pleased to note this is the first in a series of four about WWII and Germany even though it was published third in the series and subsequently renamed as Book 1. I look forward to reading the remaining three books in the series. PERSONAL BIAS NOTE: I am a baby boomer born in Germany in 1946 to a mother who had a childhood similar to characters described in this book. This novel explains some of her later life choices with behavior that I can now see came from the very repressed, controlled, situations under which she lived. She was a cold, impersonal, and sometimes terrifying (to a small child) person and only much later in life could I appreciate the depressions she must have dealt with. This novel informed me of different societal practices that combined with a bit of personal reflection impressed me deeply. This was a novel of great value for me, maybe not so much for a general audience although it is a well-told story suitable for all. Karl and Harold are two main children protagonists. They are best friends, both ten years old, and both think it is the time they enrolled in the Nazi youth movement, a movement with many levels. Throughout this novel, the boys will rise to increasingly higher levels and assume more responsibilities from 1940 to 1945 when the world will crash around them. They are best friends and rarely disagree although there will be some tension as they later attend different schools. Karl will remain the boy who questions everything and tries rationalize Nazi policy changes with the truth. Karl’s dad remains skeptical of the New Order but does not intend to vocally oppose it. Karl’s mom embraces Nazi doctrine and sees it as fitting and appropriate for Germany. Karl’s grandfather (Opa) lets it be known that he has seen it all before in the Great War, the War to End All Wars, WWI. Karl will use every opportunity to question his grandfather in a search for truth. Harold’s father remains a shadowy character. He coexists with the system; he is a “fixer.” In times of food shortage, Harold’s dad can get food. When there is a shortage of gas masks, Harold’s dad can get one of the needed sizes for Karl’s baby sister. Although Harold seems at times brainwashed, the propaganda efforts of the Reich can go too far and become too absurd for even Harold. There will be a time when even Harold will exploit some of the weaknesses of the totalitarian regime. In this novel, readers will see the role of women in the Third Reich as opposed to the traditional Prussian cultural role. Women did not work. They were to stay at home and take care of the family. Men who needed the financial help of a working woman should not be married. This would change under Hitler as men disappeared from the workforce into the Army. This became difficult for the society at large to accept. The SS was here to help impose and implement draconian systems of punishment for those who could not adapt. Disappearances into jails, prisons, and camps became more commonplace. Harold and Karl saw this change immediately with the first appearance of female teachers. Teachers with education degrees had disappeared first, replaced by party loyalists charged with instilling strict discipline in the classroom (Heil Hitler). They disappeared and were replaced by women. In a major gaffe, children had been taught that women who used any form of makeup were prostitutes so when teachers with lipstick showed up, the all-male student body went home to complain to their parents. Plainer-looking teachers replaced them. Then came the ultimate insult, co-educational classes. Harold and Karl proceed with their education while advancing in the Hitler Youth. Activities required them to go on frequent “camping” trips which were in fact relocation activities to keep children away from areas under Allied Forces bombardment. Karl is the main activity leader while Harold goes off to special schools, some emphasizing English language. During many of Karl’s travels, he is responsible for younger students. At times female teachers defer to him. This is a society that carries Patriarchy to an extreme. This is a novel to read and reflect upon. Students of propaganda will like this. As the reader progresses through the novel there are many opportunities to question why an intelligent highly educated group of people would allow themselves to become so subjugated by a politically ignorant, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, out-of-control monster. Luckily for us, all those times are in the past. I gave this novel five stars on Amazon (note personal bias above). If I weren’t so biased, I would have given it four stars. It is a good story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Raja Subramanian

    This book is a prequel to a series of books by Horst Christian developing the early days of the main characters Karl and Harold in the days of the Third Reich. I have read a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, on the times leading to the Third Reich and after that. I have always wondered about how the children fared during those turbulent times. And this book promised to provide a glimpse of the lives of children during the war in the war zone. And it did, fairly well! Karl and Harold This book is a prequel to a series of books by Horst Christian developing the early days of the main characters Karl and Harold in the days of the Third Reich. I have read a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, on the times leading to the Third Reich and after that. I have always wondered about how the children fared during those turbulent times. And this book promised to provide a glimpse of the lives of children during the war in the war zone. And it did, fairly well! Karl and Harold are friends who live with their parents in Berlin and study at the same school. Life in Berlin (and Germany in general) must have been extremely complex for adults as they tried to make sense of history unfolding amidst strong propaganda. But for children, in the most impressionable ages of 6-12 years, things would have been even more complex as they tried to process conflicting information coming from their family background, happenings at school, and the propaganda. I have not read the other books that Karl and Harold figured in. Perhaps this made for engaging reading as a I did not have to deal with their developed characters as adults. Maybe one day I will read the other books in the series and get back to this book to appreciate how their childhood experiences influenced their choices in life as adults. The author Horst Christian grew up during the Third Reich and this reflects in the authentic development of the characters. The story itself is based on a true one. The story telling of the author is simple and makes for engaging reading. I got quite caught up in the lives of Karl and Harold and their conversations - among themselves, with their other schoolmates, with their parents & grandparents, and with their teachers. One of the most disturbing aspects of the lives of children during those times was the systematic method of indoctrination. They were actively encouraged to watch others, including their own family, and inform on them to authorities on any aspect that does not comply with officially acceptable activity or behavior. Karl and Harold did not engage in this activity of informing on people to authorities probably because of a strong family values instilled in them. It is extremely disturbing to think of little children informing on their family members which probably resulted in their arrests, transportation to labor camps or possibly execution. Propaganda and not-so-subtle indoctrination was a regular affair at school. One of the characters state that "if you stay in the rain long enough, you will get really wet" (or something to the effect). There was always a danger of Karl and Harold getting completely indoctrinated into believing the propaganda, lies and half-truths of the Nazi regime. Karl and Harold are intelligent and thinking kids. With help from their family (especially Karl's grandfather), they pose numerous questions, think and make their own conclusions. One shudders to think of numerous other children who did not have the support structure or the background to think deeply as they process the battering of indoctrination. The author takes you on a guided tour of the turbulent times as Karl and Harold navigate their lives as growing children in the early 1940's. I was well and truly hooked into the narrative until the book came to a surprising and sudden halt. Karl (just having turned 14) had been recruited into the Infantry. His beloved grandfather (a former Prussian Army Major) had been arrested by the SS. His father had been drafted into the army as Berlin was poised to fall to the allies on the one side, and to the Russians on the other side. His mother moves out of Berlin to stay with her relatives. For me, the end was too abrupt. I was just enjoying the development of the story and the characters. I was looking out for more. It was a bit disappointing. But, overall, it was a great book. So why did I give just 3-stars? A few things... The characters Karl and Harold engaged in nature of conversations that appeared to me a bit too much for 11-12 year old. It is possible that the nature of the times allowed kids to mature faster, but... Karl comes across as way too precocious with his organizational skills, emotional intelligence, and focus. It is possible that the nature of the times allowed some kids to be so, but... Perhaps I will understand the childhood of Karl and Harold when I read the other books in the series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hank Hoeft

    Actually, I wanted to rate this book 2 1/2 stars, as I could't decide whether to give it two or three stars. The reasons I didn't rate it higher are: (1) the writing is stiff--maybe because it's been translated from German? (2) the main character is just too perfect to be believed. Karl is a bright, industrious, clever, ambitious boy whose heart is always in the right place. But he's too bright, too industrious... too perfect. His only flaw is that he sometimes likes to pull the leg of someone w Actually, I wanted to rate this book 2 1/2 stars, as I could't decide whether to give it two or three stars. The reasons I didn't rate it higher are: (1) the writing is stiff--maybe because it's been translated from German? (2) the main character is just too perfect to be believed. Karl is a bright, industrious, clever, ambitious boy whose heart is always in the right place. But he's too bright, too industrious... too perfect. His only flaw is that he sometimes likes to pull the leg of someone who isn't as smart or as morally upright as he is. And his father and Prussian grandfather are stereotypes of German efficiency and discipline. (3) there really isn't a story arc. I know this is the first in a four-book series, and is really more of a prequel as it sails over five years of the war (1940-1945) while the remaining three volumes apparently only cover about a year or so, but I wish Children to a Degree would have been more complete as a story in and of itself. What I liked about the book are the day-to-day details of German life in World War II from a perspective different from other similar stories. I read some of the reader reviews on Amazon, and many criticized the book for not going into more detail about the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities, but that's not fair, as the protagonist wouldn't know about those things anyway. I thought it interesting that even as a relatively privileged member of German society, he still had to constantly watch what he said and how he acted to keep from getting in trouble with the SS. And characters in Karl's life--people he respects and looks up to and learns from--are constantly disappearing as they fall off that tightrope of Nazi political correctness. In fact, the horrors of the time were revealed by what the characters didn't say or do--the horrors were there, but the reader has to read in between the lines, which strikes me as very true-to-life of that time and place.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mira

    Note that I got this book (Book 1 of the series) because it was free, and do not plan on buying the sequels. Nazi Germany was complicated, so learning about it is almost always a "big picture" experience. "Children To A Degree" is unique because it aims not only to fill the gaps, but to start from the opposite end of the spectrum. It focuses entirely on the average, day-to-day lives of children and families in Nazi Germany. It's not about Auschwitz, not about Hitler's cabinet, and not even parti Note that I got this book (Book 1 of the series) because it was free, and do not plan on buying the sequels. Nazi Germany was complicated, so learning about it is almost always a "big picture" experience. "Children To A Degree" is unique because it aims not only to fill the gaps, but to start from the opposite end of the spectrum. It focuses entirely on the average, day-to-day lives of children and families in Nazi Germany. It's not about Auschwitz, not about Hitler's cabinet, and not even particularly about Hitler's ideology and intentions. It's about the children and the families, the way these things permeated their lives. It's about the first concepts they learned about Hitler and Nazism, the way they interpreted these changes, the food rations, the way schools changed, the way the lives of women changed, and things as simple as learning the salutation "Heil Hitler"... The book paints visual pictures with details that stimulate the imagination, making it easy to understand and picture yourself in such a world that otherwise seems so alien to our own. Even phrases like "Heil Hitler" and "Hitler Youth" said so casually by the characters in the book are part of the experience and you start to understand what it was all like, even if they still sound jolting and out-of-place to your ears. The book doesn't demonize even those who somewhat blindly followed Nazi doctrine. It also doesn't infantilize Germans, making them sound as if they were entirely free of autonomy and independent thought at the start of Hitler's rise to power, as if reading a headline made them instantly succumb because they were just empty-headed nothings waiting for something to tell them what to think - that's something I've seen in the past and though it's well-intentioned, it's wrong. This book doesn't do that and I really appreciate that. "Children To A Degree" is honest and simple, even to a fault. Some details were easily skimmed - the pages on the physical construction of the train cars that carried children to their new schools, for example, lasted too long for my taste. That kind of thing lead to a bit of skimming... I skimmed through partial pages and full pages at a time. The writing style is something that I really don't like. I can't really pinpoint the style but it reminds me of children's books. Many, many scenes have the same formula: Grandfather gives a long lesson in a metaphor-filled speech and the young child replies, "So, Grandfather, do you mean to say..." and gives a perfect, mature, concise summary of the grandfather's lesson. That's something that I see in children's cartoons and books, often. It's something that happens in this book about a dozen times. As far as editing goes... was there any third-party editing? There are grammar issues and awkward syntax issues, even considering that we're going German to English. I laughed when I saw "mute issue" instead of "moot issue" but there was more than that. The children speak so unnaturally, and that is considering the difference in culture and time period. The dialogue is sometimes painful. When it doesn't feel like a children's book, it feels like an insert from a history textbook. It's fully based on real facts and real situations but is rewritten in novel form, I suppose to help visualize it. It reads somewhat like a novel, but it's really not - it just feels like the information is poorly presented. That's the thing I couldn't really get past. I feel like parts of it could be shortened and put in a high school or college level textbook with some photos depicting what's being described. So aside from my issues with the writing style, I did take away a lot from this - I saved quite a few historical facts and anecdotes. Some of those things explain the mindset of Germans in the era (how neighbours felt about each other; the fact that left-handed people could nearly never obtain employment if their handedness was known) to flat certainties (German laws on equal advertising or lack-thereof and equal mandatory business hours). I learned quite a bit about the things I wanted to learn about when I set off reading the book, so I'm not unhappy with the time spent reading it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mirel

    The book tells the story of what it was like growing up under the Nazis. I like the premise, and there are some good lines, but all in all the story itself is poorly written and doesn't live up to its promise. There are numerous grammar mistakes, faulty English, and unnecessary use of German words where English would have done just fine. For example, when Karl has to pack, he has his koffer (suitcase) on his bed. There is really no need to use the German word for suitcase, it only interferes wit The book tells the story of what it was like growing up under the Nazis. I like the premise, and there are some good lines, but all in all the story itself is poorly written and doesn't live up to its promise. There are numerous grammar mistakes, faulty English, and unnecessary use of German words where English would have done just fine. For example, when Karl has to pack, he has his koffer (suitcase) on his bed. There is really no need to use the German word for suitcase, it only interferes with the read. There are many other similar instances. There are also awkward shifts in time that are hard to follow, a statement made by a teacher that is later credited as having been said by someone else, a few great lines outweighed by lots of really unrealistic dialog (too many places where Karl's sentences sound overly pompous and more like a professor than a preteen) : in short, the book would greatly benefit from the work of a good editor. I also found it hard to believe in the main character: a bright, well-read boy of about 11 who doesn't know (and can't figure out from the context) what pregnant means, but who can do a better job than the adults at organizing schools for 8 to ten year olds, and is called in to advise all the adults on how to do a better job. This is supposedly based on a true story, but if so, I'd have appreciated being more convinced by the writing. As it is, the characters are rather two-dimensional and one doesn't get a real feel for them, maybe because we are told about events without being shown what it meant. The book is often more like a primer telling us how things were done, rather than showing us what it meant for the people involved. For example, we are told of how a funeral was conducted, but not about what it meant to the characters. And last but not least, the book ends rather abruptly. On the bright side, the book was a relatively quick read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Crawford

    Karl is growing up during World War II. The story covers the last few years of the war when Karl is still not a teenager. He ends up in a youth group and has quite a bit of success in straightening out camps set up for schoolchildren that have been evacuated from Berlin. He has a lot of common sense and a lot of sense about what is necessary to get people to work together. He's so successful at his first camp that he ends up becoming a roving fixer, going from one camp to another to straighten ou Karl is growing up during World War II. The story covers the last few years of the war when Karl is still not a teenager. He ends up in a youth group and has quite a bit of success in straightening out camps set up for schoolchildren that have been evacuated from Berlin. He has a lot of common sense and a lot of sense about what is necessary to get people to work together. He's so successful at his first camp that he ends up becoming a roving fixer, going from one camp to another to straighten out any problems and this is all before he becomes a teenager. The story includes a couple of his friends and what happened to them. The main emphasis of the story, at least to me, is the rules and procedures established under Hitler's Germany that Karl can see directly. These include: Students encouraged to report on parents, teachers, etc when they don't seem to conform to Nazi ideology. Asking certain questions can get you arrested and worse. To get into certain jobs you had to be able to prove your Aryan ancestry back three generations. Also no one would be admitted to these jobs if you had any physical impairment. There were store patrols of young people who would go into a store, give the Nazi salute and report anyone who didn't salute back. Any woman that wore lipstick was a considered a whore and could be fired from her job. Prices were fixed and no ads were allowed. Listening to foreign radio programs was illegal. People wearing sandals would be arrested. They were considered Hungarian tramps, Jews, German drifters or Jesus imitators. The reader can easily see just how horrible the Nazi regimes were in everyday life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gary Sedivy

    The book is a novel based on the author's experience in pre-WWII & WWII Germany. We have no idea evil Hitler's Germany was. The description, so matter-of-fact, so 'blandly sinister' (a phrase learned from Andrew Klavan) of the action of the NAZIs in rounding up people is frightening. You could be arrested because you did not wear the proper clothes to work (e.g., doctors HAD to wear a white coat). You could be arrested for being left-handed. You had to be careful of what you said - criticism of The book is a novel based on the author's experience in pre-WWII & WWII Germany. We have no idea evil Hitler's Germany was. The description, so matter-of-fact, so 'blandly sinister' (a phrase learned from Andrew Klavan) of the action of the NAZIs in rounding up people is frightening. You could be arrested because you did not wear the proper clothes to work (e.g., doctors HAD to wear a white coat). You could be arrested for being left-handed. You had to be careful of what you said - criticism of the NAZIs, or the military campaign, or Hitler, or the SS could easily get you 'disappeared' - sent to a concentration camp. Two boys, Karl and Harold, grow up in Berlin during WWII, and get drawn (drafted) into the Hitler Youth. They have no choice. I enjoyed this piece of history. It paints a fascinating picture of the German mindset and culture. I am eager to read the rest of the series.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jay Williams

    This is a well-written book that is easy to read and conveys valuable insights. The story makes clear how the Nazis were able to brainwash the German people and indoctrinate the youth of the country. Christian made the streets of Berlin come alive with descriptions that added to the impact of the story. Because I read the prequel first, I will look forward to reading the other books in this series. Display of the results of indoctrination in Nazi Germany highlights the same thing going on in tod This is a well-written book that is easy to read and conveys valuable insights. The story makes clear how the Nazis were able to brainwash the German people and indoctrinate the youth of the country. Christian made the streets of Berlin come alive with descriptions that added to the impact of the story. Because I read the prequel first, I will look forward to reading the other books in this series. Display of the results of indoctrination in Nazi Germany highlights the same thing going on in today's world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elise Katims

    Growing up under Hitler's rule This was a very educational book in that it is written from the perspective of the German children during the war. We often hear the views from WWII allies but not from inside the Reich, let alone from a child in his age group. It is amazing that some children were willing to help but we're able to stay away from the brainwashing of Hitler's faithful followers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    It takes a lot for me to simply not want to finish a book but this work did just that. If you can see through the misspellings and the poor writing style, you can see the potential this book has to be something great. The book was just difficult to read. It would jump ahead in time right in the middle of a paragraph. All in all though the plot and content are very interesting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennie K.

    I wanted to finish this, as there's much of great value concerning the Nazi indoctrination of youth prior to WWII. But with each page, I became increasingly reluctant to return; I simply couldn't force my way past the writing style.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Poor ending! Overall the book has very good details of what was happening with the youth in Germany during WW2. I wasn't exactly anticipating the type of ending. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to get the next installment...

  27. 4 out of 5

    harold

    very informative about children's life in Germany in the 30's and 40's I really enjoyed reading about the ways young boys lives where during the days of Hitler's rein of terror. It seems as if the youth of USA could have !earned of the hardship in growing up.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre Vogel

    Story of author's childhood in Nazi Germany. The parallels with political climate in US today are frightening!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Neil Harmon

    I started to read this Kindle book while sitting at the Frankfort airport waiting for a connection. I picked it out of my reading queue because I happened to be in Germany even if only for a few hours. I really liked this book. It was walking a line where the details were fictional but the general experience was based on the author's own life. To me, this gave it more historical value than the usual historical fiction. THe style is straightforward and I think would appeal (and perhaps be very va I started to read this Kindle book while sitting at the Frankfort airport waiting for a connection. I picked it out of my reading queue because I happened to be in Germany even if only for a few hours. I really liked this book. It was walking a line where the details were fictional but the general experience was based on the author's own life. To me, this gave it more historical value than the usual historical fiction. THe style is straightforward and I think would appeal (and perhaps be very valuable) to young adult readers but is certainly able to hold an adult's interest. I do plan on reading the next in the series at some point and will buy it so that it sits in my queue and reminds me. Even though it is a series, this book is well able to stand on its own so don't worry about being left hanging and feeling un satisfied at the end of this first volume. Despite the two months it took me to read, It is a fast read. I was juggling several books. I read the first half on my flight so it could easily be read in a day or two if desired. For those interested in looking behind the headline oriented accounts of WW-II, I'd recommend this book highly.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mom

    This is one of those books that I found hard to put down until the end. It was also unnerving to read the parallels of the Nazis to our government now. Unlimited spending with nothing back it, which leads to runaway inflation, federal control of curriculum in the schools, increasing numbers of bureaucrats with more & more power. Electing people to office that feed our emotions & promise us things that they know they could never deliver...and promises from government that they will "take care" of This is one of those books that I found hard to put down until the end. It was also unnerving to read the parallels of the Nazis to our government now. Unlimited spending with nothing back it, which leads to runaway inflation, federal control of curriculum in the schools, increasing numbers of bureaucrats with more & more power. Electing people to office that feed our emotions & promise us things that they know they could never deliver...and promises from government that they will "take care" of us. I see us on a very slippery slope. Aside from this, the personal story is a rare insight to life in Germany at the time. The boys had to be incredibly mature at such a tender age. Life was harsh, but they managed to explore and have interesting and exciting times, even in the midst of war. This book definitely makes me want to read the rest in the series. I love the occasional use of the German words (with translations) as it helps to transport me to a different time and place. The editing is a bit sloppy, but doesn't detract from the story itself.

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