Auslander by Paul Dowswell
Piotr is a Polish boy who is orphaned when his parents are killed in a car crash.
The Nazis have invaded his country and, as a minor, is forced to leave his home for an orphanage in Warsaw.
There he is assessed and measured by the Germans, who categorise him as “racially valuable” because he is Volksdeutscher (of German blood) and packed off to Berlin to the home of Prof Kaltenbach and his family.
Hailed as a perfect German specimen, Piotr quickly realises he wants nothing to do with the Nazi movement and decides he has to do something to get out. But, this is 1942 and possibly the most dangerous time for someone in his vulnerable position to go against the prevailing political storm.
A profound and moving story, Wolverhampton author Dowswell is an historian who has captured beautifully the intensity of the time, the fear and trepidation of young Germans during the Second World War.
Very different in style and tone from his previous children’s books, which centred on a young boy, Sam Witchall in the Napoleonic Wars, this is a mature story and one that carries a powerful message about how corruption can destroy almost anyone.
It does take a little time to get going, but it really is an excellent novel with some incredible historical insights, including the Fritz von Rabaneau adaptation of Silent Night that included the words, “Silent Night, Holy Night,all is calm, wakeful only is Adolf Hitler, watching over Germany’s destiny…”
While this book will receive obvious comparisons with John Boyne’s The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, simply because of the time in which it is set. They are totally different, but if you enjoyed Boyne’s incredible novel, then Dowswell’s is certainly worth exploring.