Hitler’s Boy Soldiers by Helene Munson

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Hitler’s Boy Soldiers:

Just when you thought the Nazis couldn’t get any worse.

Quick synopsis:

The story of how Hitler and the Nazis indoctrinated young men even before World War II.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

What was a good exercise for these young men? Manning anti-aircraft guns! Yes, really!

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Nazi math included figuring out how much it cost to help the old, invalid, and those with special needs. Yes, to make it easier to have them executed later.

My Take on Hitler’s Boy Soldiers:

Helene Munson’s Hitler’s Boy Soldiers is a deeply moving story of a little studied portion of World War II. Cobbling together the life of her father as a child in the German army, Munson takes the reader through his journey while doing some soul searching herself. The result is a book that, while very small in scope, tackles some much bigger questions about responsibility, generational guilt, and mental health.

Make no mistake, this book will make you feel sick to your stomach. The indoctrination is diabolical and mostly effective. It certainly made me look at Nazis in a slightly different way. When you are told from a very early age how to look at the world, do you have a chance of breaking away from that?

Munson’s book is on the shorter side and does not give an in depth look at the greater events of World War II. However, it does not suffer for it as the story she tells is focused more on family and understanding than anything else.

Verdict:

A brutal but well-written book. A must read for World War II nerds. Buy it here!

If You Liked This Try:

Episode 7 is live! Kevin Birmingham joins the podcast!

This episode is with PEN New England and Truman Capote award winner Kevin Birmingham to talk about his newest book, The Sinner and the Saint. We also talk with Kevin about his previous book, The Most Dangerous Book and we even get into his thoughts on how colleges run their graduate programs.

Check out his website: http://www.kevinbirmingham.net/
Buy The Sinner and the Saint and The Most Dangerous Book

Timely History: Cats and the Catholic Church

Do you own a cat? Are you Catholic? You are a heretic! Burn at the stake!

Just kidding. It’s not like cats were excommunicated by the Catholic Church. I mean there’s even a “cat” in the name for God’s sake (see what I did there?)!

Except, cats were officially excommunicated by the Catholic Church at one point.

Pope Gregory IX (yes, that Pope Gregory) came to the papacy in 1227. We could probably call him the ultimate “not a cat person.” You see, he thought cats housed Satan. Yes, he actually decreed that Satan was half-cat. Cats were used in Satanic masses and that is how Satan would show up. As a Catholic, I’d like to tell you I am making any of this up. I am not. It gets dumber from here!

Guess when people killed lots of cats? During the Great Plague! See, since cats were evil then obviously they brought the plague around. Of course, now we know that rats brought them. And now of course you just made the connection that less cats meant more rats. Welcome to historical irony!

Oh, want to know why there are so few black cats? They were deemed the evilest. So, a lot more them were killed leading to a smaller population today, probably.

Ever hear the saying, “never let a black cat cross your path?” Well, that’s because there is a crazy Catholic behind them attempting to kill them and you may get hurt.

Okay, I made the last one up but everything else is true.

For Further Reading:

https://allthatsinteresting.com/pope-massacred-cats

https://www.thevintagenews.com/2019/04/02/the-vatican-and-cats/