Flowers in the gutter The true story of the Edelweiss Pirates, teenagers who resisted the Nazis

K. R. Gaddy

Book - 2020

"The Edelweiss Pirates were a loosely organized group of working-class young people in the Rhine Valley of Germany. They faced off with Nazis during the Third Reich and suffered consequences for their resistance during and after World War II."--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 940.5343/Gaddy Due Oct 3, 2022
New York : Dutton Books [2020]
Physical Description
301 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Grades 10-12
Includes bibliographical references (pages 286-292) and index.
Main Author
K. R. Gaddy (author)
  • PROLOGUE: Late 1942
  • 1932-1938
  • 1939-1942
  • 1942-1943
  • 1943-1944
  • Fall 1944
  • 1944-1945
  • 1945-
Review by Booklist Reviews

Debut author Gaddy draws on memoirs, documents, articles, and film to tell the stories of three brave German teenagers—Jean, Fritz, and Gertrud—who risked their lives in defiance of the Nazis' regimented rule. Through their three points of view, she tells of their early years and the adventures, activism, and strife they encountered during the rise of the Third Reich, on the way to forming their group, the Edelweiss Pirates, during WWII. They took huge risks spreading the anti-Nazi message, helping forced laborers, and sabotaging Nazi supplies and factories. Despite many beatings, arrests, and deportations, these teenagers remained determined to fight Hitler's rule even if it meant being branded as criminals. Gaddy carries their stories on beyond the '40s, giving readers a complete picture of how these young people were developed and treated due to the political climate. Supplemented by pictures and documents, Gaddy's thorough research shines a light on a heroic group of Germans that often goes unmentioned. Grades 8-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Gaddy's debut draws from memoirs and extensive research to share the true stories of three teens in Nazi Germany. Gertrud, Jean, and Fritz were non-Jewish, fairly typical German teens, hanging out with groups known as Bündische Jugend (free-federated youth). The Nazis considered such groups far too tolerant and nonconforming, and as Hitler came to power, they were subjected to imprisonment and interrogation. The senseless brutality they witnessed prompted the Bündische to risk their lives in acts of rebellion, vandalism, and sabotage because "at least if they were fighting back against the Nazis, they might die doing something meaningful." Despite awkward translations (for example, a foreman tells Fritz, "You are not bearable for the German people," to express contempt) and frequent use of undefined German phrases, this compelling account conveys the profound brutality of Hitler's Germany and how some children responded with acts of breathtaking bravery. Age 12–up. (Jan.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7–10—As young children living in Germany during the uprising of the Nazi party, Gertrud Kühlem, Jean Jülich, and Fritz Theilen resisted joining the Hitler Youth. They grew up in Cologne, Germany, in the aftermath of World War I and the Depression; their fathers were unemployed, there was not enough money to buy food, and there was a general sense that life was getting scarier as the Nazi Party came to power in the 1930s. Gertrud's parents, who were Communists, hated Hitler. Fritz's parents were members of the Social Democratic Party and did not want another war. Jean was eventually sent to an orphanage when his father, grandmother, and aunt were taken by Nazis due to his father's allegiance to the Communist Party. Other teenagers in Germany, who were anti-Hitler and anti-Nazi, embraced all people. These groups were called the Edelweiss Pirates or the Navajos. The democratic, inclusive groups did not discriminate against people based on sexual preference or race. Many supported the Allies and openly fought with Hitler Youth members. The narrative, broken into seven parts, highlights the true story of these hundreds (maybe thousands) of German teenagers who resisted and risked their lives in order to save Jewish people. Told from the three teens' perspectives, this compelling book is carefully and expertly researched. Gaddy utilized memoirs and interviews that Gertrud, Jean, and Fritz have given since the end of the war. VERDICT Readers will enjoy learning about these resistance groups in this truly new and unique addition to the YA World War II literary canon. A a must-read.—Gretchen Schulz, Schaumburg Township District Library, IL Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The Edelweiss Pirates were a loosely organized group of working-class young people in the Rhine Valley of Germany. They faced off with Nazis during the Third Reich and suffered consequences for their resistance during and after World War II."--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A photo-illustrated account documents the story of the Edelweiss Pirates, a group of working-class teens who survived the Third Reich in their Cologne neighborhoods while resisting the Hitler Youth, helping POWs and sabotaging Nazi factories. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The true story of the Edelweiss Pirates, working-class teenagers who fought the Nazis by whatever means they could. Fritz, Gertrud, and Jean were classic outsiders: their clothes were different, their music was rebellious, and they weren’t afraid to fight. But they were also Germans living under Hitler, and any nonconformity could get them arrested or worse. As children in 1933, they saw their world change. Their earliest memories were of the Nazi rise to power and of their parents fighting Brownshirts in the streets, being sent to prison, or just disappearing.As Hitler’s grip tightened, these three found themselves trapped in a nation whose government contradicted everything they believed in. And by the time they were teenagers, the Nazis expected them to be part of the war machine. Fritz, Gertrud, and Jean and hundreds like them said no. They grew bolder, painting anti-Nazi graffiti, distributing anti-war leaflets, and helping those persecuted by the Nazis. Their actions were always dangerous. The Gestapo pursued and arrested hundreds of Edelweiss Pirates. In World War II’s desperate final year, some Pirates joined in sabotage and armed resistance, risking the Third Reich’s ultimate punishment. This is their story.