• Historical and Biographical Background Information for The Boy Who Dared


    CHARACTERS OR HISTORICAL FIGURES

    HELMUTH HUBENER (main character)

    • Born January 8, 1925 in Hamburg, Germany.

    • He was from religious and political family in Hamburg, Germany and his family was Mormon

    • Helmuth joined the Hitler Youth after the Nazis banned boys from being in Boy Scouts

    • He started an apprentice job and started listening to enemy radio stations

    • He was eventually arrested by the Gestapo, the secret police in Germany.

    • He was found guilty of high treason and put in prison.   

    ADOLF HITLER

    • Born in Austria, not Germany

    • Leader of the National Socialist Party, called the Nazi Party

    • He wanted to create a perfect race of people called the Aryan Race.

    • Hitler’s policies led to the systematic killing of  around 12 million people, including civilians and prisoners and he was responsible for ordering the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews.

    • He fought in WW1 with Germany and was described as a good soldier, but was wounded in battle

    • He was a very persuasive speaker who argued for many changes in German society after the end of WWI, which persuaded people to follow him.


    GERHARD KUNKEL

    • He was Helmuth’s half-brother

    • Once banned from Boy Scouts, he was forced to join the Hitler Youth

    • Was recruited into the Resistance movement

    • He was sent to the Russian front as a forward artillery observer

    • Gerhard fought in Russia and Italy

    • He received the Iron Cross, the Medal of Valor, and the Russian Battle Metal

    • Because of his brother’s actions, he was court-martialed and he was demoted from Lt. to Corporal in the German Army, but he earned his rank back and was released from the rehabilitation unit back into society after the war

    RUDI WOBBE

    • He was one of Helmuth’s friends.

    • He was one of the friends that was arrested by the Gestapo, along with Helmuth, and initially sentenced to death.

    • He received a prison sentence of five years.

    • He was imprisoned and charged with “Preparation to High Treason and Aiding and Abetting the Enemy.”

    KARL HEINZ-SCHNIBBE

    • Schnibbe joined the Hitler Youth at the age of twelve, against the wishes of his father, and was sworn in on April 20, 1936 (Hitler's birthday).

    • Schnibbe was a member of the Resistance movement, like Helmuth and Rudi.

    • He was arrested with Hubener and served five years in prison.

    • He was later expelled from the Hitler Youth organization for assaulting his youth leader.

    • Near the end of World War II, advancing Soviet troops overran the labor camp where Schnibbe was imprisoned, and held him as a prisoner of war for four years.



    EVENTS

    THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES

    • The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.

    • It was signed on 28 June 1919, five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination started WWI.

    • The treaty required "Germany to accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war.

    • They lost a large amount of territory in other countries, like France, Czechoslovakia, and Austria, and over 1 million square miles of land because of the treaty.

    • As a result of the treaty, Germany was blamed for WWI, and had to pay monthly fees, or reparations. This took a huge toll on the economy of Germany.

    • They also were required to limit their military power and were told not to build a strong army.

    • Germany lost 1.7 million men during the war, and a further 4.2 million are listed as being wounded.

    SUDETENLAND

    • The Sudetenland was the place in Czechoslovakia that had German speaking citizens. This place had later became a massive battlefield.

    • When the depression hit, then the industrial region of Sudetenland had almost was at a stand still and didn’t produce any goods.

    • Hitler invaded this area and annexed it for Germany and Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, allowed Hitler to do so, which hurt Britain because it made it appear that Hitler could do as he pleased.

    MEIN KAMPF

    • Mein Kampf was a book written by Adolf Hitler that was designed to propagate, or spread, his ideas and beliefs, especially the ideas of national socialism

    • It was written so that Hitler could raise money for his trial after he was arrested for protesting in Germany in 1924

    • The second volume outlined his long term goals for Germany and his feelings about creating a stronger Germany

    ANTI-SEMITIC LEGISLATION 1933-1939

    • Jews were segregated from society and lost political, legal, and civil rights.

    • From 1933 until 1939, Jews experienced laws that ended their public and private lives. Many of these were national laws that had been issued by the German administration and affected all Jews.

    • The tax rate was raised for all Jewish people, so they paid more in taxes

    ANTI-SEMITIC LEGISLATION 1933-1939 - CONTINUED

    • Also, Nazi legislation didn't allow Jews to attend public schools and universities, as well as from cinemas, theaters, and sports facilities.

    • In many cities, Jews were forbidden to enter designated "Aryan" (Judenfrei) zones.

    • It was difficult for Jews to leave since they weren't allowed in certain areas so they didn't have the ability to leave Germany without entering those areas.

    • The government required Jews to identify themselves in ways that would separate them from the rest of the population, so they were required to wear the Jewish star on their clothes and carry paperwork that identified them as Jews.


    KRISTALLNACHT

    • Commonly referred to as “The Night of Broken Glass”

    • Nazis burned down synagogues and vandalized Jewish homes, schools, and businesses.

    • Started by the Nazi regime, rioters burned or destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized or looted 7,500 Jewish businesses, and killed at least 91 Jewish people.

    • They also damaged many Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes as police watched.

    • Many Jews were killed or taken to concentration camps after the event.

    • The policies of German Nazis became more violent and conditions for German Jews became worse.

    • After Kristallnacht, conditions for German Jews grew increasingly worse. During World War II (1939-45), Hitler and the Nazis implemented their so-called “Final Solution” to the what they referred to as the “Jewish problem,” and carried out the systematic murder of some 6 million European Jews in what came to be known as the Holocaust.


    THE BURNING OF THE REICHSTAG

    • Using emergency constitutional powers, Adolf Hitler’s cabinet had issued a Decree for the Protection of the German People on February 4, 1933.

    • This decree (law) placed constraints on the press and authorized the police to ban political meetings. After this, many of the rights of German citizens changed to reflect the rules and laws of a new regime, including limits on free speech and a right to assemble.

    • Shortly after 9 PM on 27 February 1933, the Berlin Fire Department received a message that the Reichstag was on fire.

    • Hitler called the fire a "sign from God" and claimed it was a signal meant to mark the beginning of a Communist revolt. The origins of the fire are unknown, but it is assumed that the new Nazi government had something to do with it.


    ANNEXATION OF AUSTRIA (ANSCHLUSS)

    • It was spelled as the Anschluß and included Austria

    • Austria was annexed by the German Third Reich on March 12, 1938.

    • Hitler invaded Austria because it was his birth country and it was territory that Hitler wanted for Germany.

    • He crossed the border with crowds greeting him and visited his hometown.

    • The troops were greeted by cheering German-Austrians with Nazi salutes, Nazi flags, and flowers. Because of this, the Nazi annexation is also called the Blumenkrieg (war of flowers)


    INVASION OF POLAND- 1945

    • Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939.

    • To Hitler, the conquest of Poland would bring Lebensraum, or “living space,” for the German people

    • The invasion of Poland started World War II and was considered an act of war that was publicized by American and foreign media outlets

    • At this time, Poland was split into two parts. Nazi Germany occupied the remainder of Poland when it invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

    • Poland remained under German occupation until January 1945.