Goodbye Mr Hitler – Jackie French

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Harper Collins – AU

May 2017

      ISBN: 9781460751299

RRP: 16.99 AUD

In a modern world that often seems to be filled with hate and prejudices and refusal to acknowledge basic human rights, we could easily fall into a despondency that could be soul-destroying. Many of us in daily contact with children will have observed that they too feel fearful about outcomes of some of the huge issues the world is facing. How can we as educators help them to overcome their fears and even perhaps hatred born of influence from media and other sources?

I believe that it is with great literature such as this that we can examine the horrors of the past and show the path to a place of peace, love and forgiveness.  We have a real duty to impart to these children that we cannot stand by and let evil happen and that if we all do that, it cannot survive.

Jackie French has continued her “Hitler” series with the story of Johannes and his doctor parents sent to concentration camps when the Nazis took over Poland, as well as following the threads from the previous two books with the fate of Heidi, believed to be Hitler’s daughter, as well as Georg, now firmly an Australian and his mother who has also survived the horror camps.

Their stories are vivid and told with Jackie’s usual painstaking historical accuracy and each resonates with the pain and suffering endured by so many. It is heart-wrenching and poignant and not for the first time we are inspired by the indomitable human spirit of truly good people. How could someone who has survived such vileness heal their hearts we might ask? And yet so many have done just that. Having witnessed truly despicable and terrible events and actions, these are the people who know that the one true way to freedom, not just of body but of mind and spirit, is through letting go of hate.

As these memorable characters find renewed hope and begin to build new lives in Australia, their various secrets, fears and sorrows begin to soften and ebb into a past.

The contemporary situation with asylum seekers and the denial of their rights should be compared to the spirit of generosity with which nations, especially Australia, welcomed displaced persons following the war.

This series is one of the most important and significant within my experience. Students particularly of Modern History and indeed Philosophy should be firmly pointed in their direction.

Find superb teaching notes here.

Highest recommendation for readers in Upper Primary onwards.

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