The Boy Who Dared

Historical Fiction by Susan Campbell Bartoletti



In October 1942, seventeen-year-old Helmuth Hübener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls his past life and how he came to dedicate himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people.


Bartoletti crafts a novel closely based on the true story of Helmuth Hübener, a German teen who stood up to the Nazis and paid with his life. Written in present-tense flashbacks, the tale traces the development of Helmuth's outlook from childhood delight in playing with toy soldiers within the safe confines of his closely knit Mormon family to ill-concealed fury as Hitler's rise brings mounting violence against Jews, suppression of books and foreign news and a general climate of fear and mistrust. He resorts at last to anonymous pamphleteering, and his eventual capture brings imprisonment, beatings and a trial at which he manages to save two of his friends from death penalties.

About the Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Former 8th grade teacher, author of many books for young adults

Loves to teach writing to students

Wrote this book after learning about the real Helmuth Hubener

Interviewed a survivor of Helmuth's Resistance Group - man credits Helmuth for saving his life

She "wanted to provide a dramatic meditation on the meaning of [Helmuth's] short life that raises questions about moral courage, nationalism, and the responsibility of the individual."

Critics' Words

  • inspiring tale of conscience and courage
  • extensive research of Helmut's life is apparent
  • powerful and gripping novel
  • The teen’s perspective makes this a particularly gripping way to personalize the history