Review of Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis
by K. R. Gaddy
Middle School, High School    Dutton    294 pp.    g
1/20    978-0-5255-5541-4    $18.99

The Edelweiss Pirates were groups of German youth who protested the Nazi regime through actions ranging from simple mischief and propaganda all the way up to sabotage. Because they were generally poor — and poorly organized — they, according to Gaddy, have not been properly recognized by scholars as being part of the resistance movement. This book aims to shed light on their efforts by weaving together the stories of three young people — Gertrud, Fritz, and Jean — in and around the city of Cologne from 1932 to 1945. Over those dozen-plus years, conflicts escalate, from them pulling pranks on the Hitler Youth to their prolonged interrogation at the hands of the SS. The three teens convey their unique but shared experiences, rendering a history that is at once familiar and new. Drawing on primary sources such as memoirs, interviews, government documents, and archival photographs, Gaddy unflinchingly chronicles Germany’s harrowing and inexorable embrace of fascism and the brave young people who struggled against its tyranny. A final chapter leaps forward in time to discuss the current legacy of the Edelweiss Pirates. This book stands next to Hoose’s The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (rev. 7/15) and Freedman’s We Will Not Be Silent (rev. 5/16) as a testament to those young people who resisted the Nazis. A “Persons of Interest” list begins the book; an author’s note, source notes, bibliography, and index are appended.

From the March/April 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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