Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives under the Nazis by Nicholas Stargardt - review by Richard Overy

Richard Overy

The Child’s View

Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives under the Nazis


Jonathan Cape 499pp £20 order from our bookshop

We are all familiar with the gambit ‘What did you do in the war, Daddy?’ The question is suggestive of much, particularly the silence that many returning men adopted in 1945 when unable to share the horrors they had experienced with a family now grown distant from long absence. But it ought to suggest another question: ‘What did you do in the war, son?’ Yet children’s perspective on war is an issue seldom addressed. Children are bystanders, noiseless victims of war. They do not fight (except in a few cases), they do not make policy, they do not work long hours building weapons. They are not regarded as part of the conventional narrative of war.

In this extraordinary and gripping book, Nicholas Stargardt has succeeded in demonstrating that children’s experience of war is every bit as important in the history of conflict as the experience of the adults who fought, organised and suffered all around them. For many years now historians have tried to escape

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Art of Darkness

Cambridge, Shakespeare

Follow Literary Review on Twitter