Local Author's Nonfiction Novel about Hitler's Child Army

Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany is the title of Carlsbad resident Karen Truesdell Riehl's latest eBook, scheduled for release July 7 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other eBook publishers.

The nonfiction novel is based on the author's interview of a former member of the Jugend, Hitler's child army. All persons and events are true to Helga's childhood memories. Only the dialog has been fictionalized, using the dramatic techniques of a novel. Except for Helga's first name, the names of family and friends have been changed to respect the privacy of those still living with the memories.

When the author met her in 1977, Helga was an elementary school librarian, a 1948 German immigrant. When asked about her experience during the war, she quietly revealed she had been a "Jugend," a member of Hitler's child army, "trained to revere and obey the Fuhrer." When Riehl asked how children were recruited, she replied, "Clever seduction."

Helga's seduction begins with an invitation she cannot refuse. The ten-year-old is ordered to attend weekly meetings of the Hitler Youth movement. Lies and tasty treats are employed to entice her allegiance to the Fuhrer. Helga is sent away to youth training camps as the war draws nearer her home in Berlin. She is caught between loyalty to her family, suffering under Nazi rule, and loyalty to the Fuhrer, who keeps her safe and well-fed. Helga's gradual disillusionment, followed by her harrowing escape home, is a powerful coming-of-age story of a young girl's survival of Nazi mind control.

A free sample download of Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany is available at Smashwords.com.

Advance reviews from Readers' Favorite:

Helga's story helps bring a new comprehension of the strains and complexities the most vulnerable members of German society were subjected to, and how their lives and the lives of their families were affected. Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany is a major and valuable addition to World War II literature. It's most highly recommended.

Jack Magnus

...a fascinating book that showcases a different side of life within the Third Reich and how, despite propaganda and lies, there were still people willing to stand up for what is right. It was a book that was hard to put down.

Kayti Nika Raet


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