Monday, September 12, 2016

MMGM-- The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero

McCormick, Patricia. The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero
September 13th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
ARC from Young Adult Books Central

There is no end to stories that could be told about the bravery of ordinary people during World War II. It it, however, somewhat of a surprise that Bonhoeffer's story has not been told for young readers.

Growing up in a prosperous, educated German household in the early part of the 20th century, Dietrich had seven brothers and sisters who all excelled at whatever activities they were passionate about. Dietrich was the quiet child who was frequently alone. Family life was idyllic until World War I, when one brother, Walter, was killed, and the other brothers had to serve as well. After the war, Dietrich pursued religious studies, even though his family had that he would do something with his musical talents. He managed to travel quite a bit and found that he enjoyed working most with the underprivileged. He also was ecumenical in his views, something not necessarily shared by his Lutheran compatriots at the time. As Hitler came to power, Dietrich felt that the clergy really needed to step in to make sure that people weren't hurt. Ultimately, this ended with Dietrich becoming involved in a plot to kill Hitler with his brother, two of his brothers in law, and some others. 

Written by Patricia McCormick, a master of research, The Plot to Kill Hitler is interesting because it not only covers that historical event, but the philosophy and theology that lead to a mild-mannered pastor being involved in it. Long an inspiration for social activists, Bonhoeffer's message that to not combat evil is also evil is a timely one, and his story is one that deserves to be heard by a new generation. 

The narrative of this is fast paced, and is a study in the contrasts that were so prevalent in German society at this period in history. The photographs that are included are often heartbreaking-- the picture of Bonhoeffer with his siblings and mother, her face barely visible because she is looking down lovingly at her children; a shadowed picture on Bonhoeffer's desk and piano, painfully tidied; a class picture with Bonhoeffer as a teacher surrounded by children in high spirits. Before WWII, Germany was considered one of the best places to study many topics, and this is something of which the students who are familiar with the Holocaust might not be aware. 

This is an excellent addition to a number of new books about different facets of the Holocaust that include We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman, The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose, and Hitler's Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World's Most Notorious Dictator by Bill O'Reilly.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Other Stuff I Read This Weekend:

  • Cabot, Meg. Royal Wedding Disaster (May 10th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends)
  • Callaghan, Cindy. Lost in Ireland (March 1st 2016 by Aladdin)
  • Dairman, Tara. Stars So Sweet. (July 19th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)
  • Feinstein, John. The DH (September 6th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Patterson, James (Grabenstein, Chris). Jacky Ha-Ha (March 21st 2016 by Little, Brown and Company)
  • Santopolo, Jill. Wedding Bell Blues (Sparkle Spa #8)
  • Shusterman, Michelle. Dead Air (Kat Sinclair Files #1)


  1. This sounds like it would fit nicely into our WWII collection. Thanks for telling me about it. Here is what my week was like. Happy reading!

  2. You had a busy reading weekend – I managed just two titles in the Clayton Stone series. I've actually had a few students interested in learning about Hitler and this title might interest a few more. Thanks for featuring.

  3. Oooo! This looks really good. It will be interesting to see how Dietrich's morals and religious practices melded with his dangerous plan, and how the author handled it. Thanks.

  4. Sounds like a fascinating addition to a unit on WWII, and a great choice for kids who like fast-paced, exciting nonfiction.

  5. Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes. I recently learned that he had the opportunity to stay in the U.S. during the war, but he decided to return to Germany, which resulted in his death. This sounds like an amazing book about a very brave man.

  6. A true hero - how nice to have a book about him to share with my students, thank you!

  7. Ahh! This book looks absolutely fantastic. I am adding it to my wish list. Thank you very much!

  8. I should have read The Plot to Kill Hitler before I went to Germany - sounds like a riveting read.

  9. Thanks so much for the heads up about this title. It sounds like a fascinating, and as you said, timely read.