Daniel Half Human

Historical Fiction by David Chotjewitz



Daniel Kraushaar and his best friend Armin are swept up early in Hitler's demagoguery, eager to right society's wrongs; they even take to the streets painting swastikas and, jailed overnight, are hailed as heroes. Nothing excites both thirteen-year-old boys more than the prospect of joining Hitler's youth movement. Then Daniel learns that his mother is Jewish, thereby making him "half human" by Nazi standards. Armin's loyalty to his friend survives the revelation, especially when Armin (the "good Nazi" of the title) falls in love with Daniel's cousin Miriam. Meanwhile, the noose tightens around the Kraushaar household -- "first our property, then our rights as citizens." When, in a stunning final scene, Armin and Daniel meet at the end of the war, all their personal and communal history plays out in their merciless confrontation.


At the dawn of Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933 and a period of the most brutal, aggressive anti-Semitism the world has ever seen, two boys swear eternal brotherhood by slitting their wrists and mingling their blood. Having experienced so much together, even a night in jail after painting a swastika on a wall in the hated Communist section of Hamburg, Daniel and Armin had become the best of friends.

But then, with the scar on his wrist still healing, Daniel receives some life-altering news: He is half-Jewish, and as such, half-hated by a growing number of neighbors, teachers, and friends. Quickly, he decides to keep his identity a secret, conspiring with Armin to join the Hitler Youth -- but only one of them can, and will, join, with terrible consequences.

About the Author

teacher and playwright

lives in Germany

wrote this book in German and published it there (book later translated to English)

Critics' Words

the stunning conclusion will spark debate not only about what happened but about the collision of duty and friendship

absorbing family portrait

even when I wanted to stop reading I couldn't. The story gets very suspenseful at points and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat

well written, totally haunting