AuslÄnder
Paul Dowswell




Polish orphan Peter is 'Volksdeutscher' (of German blood), and looks the Aryan ideal with his blond hair and blue eyes. He is sent to Berlin, where he is invited to live with the Kaltenbach family. He soon realises that he does not share Professor and Frau Kaltenbach's pro-Nazi ideals. At first he thinks that he is alone in not accepting the Nazi ideology that's all around him, but gradually he realises that he is not alone. He falls in love, and becomes involved with the highly-dangerous anti-Nazi free-thinkers, which includes assisting Jews who have gone underground. He also discovers, on more than one occasion, that you can't always judge someone by first impressions.

The story vividly portrays the dangers of wartime Berlin. Peter appears to be the ideal Hitler-Jugend member: obedient, brave and in good physical health. Underneath, though, he never loses his compassion and generosity of spirit. The story doesn't flinch from giving details of what might (and frequently did) happen to those judged dispensible by the Nazis, but doesn't dwell on the cruelty. This would be a great "background" read for those interested in discovering more about this period of history. It is also ideal for demonstrating that not all Germans were Nazis - a common misconception among the young.

'Auslaender should prove to be a breakthrough into the top league for Dowswell: a hugely impressive thriller set during the Second World War ... There will be many adults sneakily borrowing this from their children'- The Bookseller

'Auslaender is a superlative, at times almost agonisingly compelling, piece of historical fiction ... The climactic escape to freedom is pure muck-sweat tension'- The Financial Times
Elliot, from University College School London

Ausländer is the tale of a young Polish boy called Piotr Bruck, who is taken from an orphanage by Nazi party members because he is believed to be of German blood. After visiting doctor after doctor and having examination after examination, Piotr is selected by the honourable Kaltenbachs to be their son. The Kaltenbach family try to change Piotr, including his name. They are racist, anti-Semitic people who try desperately to impose their views on Piotr, but he has other ideas.

 

I am not going to fill these pages with never-ending praise for Ausländer but, none the less, it was a fun book to read. Paul Dowswell had clearly done a lot of research on Nazi Germany when writing the book because of all the Nazi terms he used; it was such a shame however that he didn’t create a glossary. Though I was not gripped by this book, I certainly wanted to finish Ausländer. What I suppose I‘m trying to say is that I did not find this book to be a chore, unlike some other school readings. 

   

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, fun read.

 

Gregory, from University College School London

Ausländer by Paul Dowswell is about a boy by the name of Piotr who becomes formally known in Germany as Peter. It is set in Germany and Poland during the Second World War. Peter is a boy who used to live in Poland with his German parents who live on a farm. One night Peter’s parents go out for a night and left Peter alone in the house. He is woken up by the sound of German planes dropping bombs nearby. He goes to his parent’s bedroom but sees they have not returned and worries about them. He then rushes out in a state of panic and sets off to find where his parents had gone and found their car off the road and sees them lying dead in the car. When he tries to run back to the house a soldier stops him and when he tries to get his dog the soldier shoots the dog right in the head. Peter is then sent to an orphanage where he is treated like dirt but later when the Germans discover him they send him off to Berlin to a brand new start with a new family. You would have thought this would have been a wild enough adventure but for Peter it is only start.

 

Ausländer I think is a truly great book. I think this because for one it shows us the other side of the war from a German point of view. It is also good at how he uses Peter as the middle man as he does not agree with what the Nazis are doing nor the Tommies and so he finds himself in a difficult position.

 

My favourite character is Peter as the author has done so well to portray emotions and passions for things. He is also used well as a neutral person; for instance when he joins the Hitler Jugend, he is very passionate at first but then leans away and back into a neutral position.

 

Overall I think that Ausländer is a brilliant book and I would recommend it to all; and out of ten, I rate it without doubt a ten. 

Isaac , from University College School London

Ausländer is a book set in 1943 during the Second World War and is about a 14-year-old Aryan-looking boy called Peter whose mother was Polish but father was German; his parents tragically die whilst he is still very young. Peter is sent to a orphanage in Warsaw where he is treated badly and fed very little. Following the German invasion of Poland the Germans destroy the orphanage and take some of the boys to what could be concentration camps and others to be fostered by families in Germany. Peter is selected to be sent to a foster family, the Kaltenbachs. As he grows up with the typical German family he is forced to join the Hitler-Jugend but Peter deep down doesn’t believe in the Nazis’ campaign and is called an 'Ausländer' (which means foreigner) by the other H-J boys.

 

Peter meets a girl called Anna who is also unsure of the Nazi beliefs and slightly more rebellious than the other German children. Together they end up in a fight against the Nazi police, the Gestapo, and the H-J. Although he knows instinctively that the H-J and the Nazis are unfair, and often cruel, he begins to realise the enormity of the plans against the Jews, and together Peter and Anna start to help the Jews. They take them food and medicines when they are ill and visit the places they are hiding to try and help look after them. When the Gestapo find out and try to catch Peter, Anna and her mother, they have to under go a dangerous route to Sweden to run away but things don’t quite go as planned …

 

The story is set in Berlin around 1943. It is a very well-written book, with a lot of exciting and nerve-racking scenes where the main characters are very nearly caught by the Nazi guards, when the punishment would almost certainly be death. Dowswell makes it seem exciting when just as you think all hope has gone and they are about to be caught, Peter and Anna manage to outwit the guards or fortune falls on their side to help them manage to escape. The opening scene of the book very quickly grabs the reader’s attention… and the reader is first wondering which each way will lead them; I think this is a good way of making the reader want to carry on reading to explore the story more.

 

My favourite character was probably Otto, Anna’s father; the reader is made sorry for him because he is portrayed as being a noble and courageous man who helped the Jews .... My favourite scene is when Peter and Anna are running away, and hiding under the train, this is because it was very exciting and the reader is almost sure that they will either be caught or crushed by the train, this was the climax of the story and made very exhilarating.

 

It is clear that Paul Dowswell has put an enormous amount of research to get the story accurate and to create what it had been like for a child’s life style in the Second World War. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an easy but exciting story.  

Jack, from University College School London

Ausländer is a tense and dramatic story of growing up in Berlin during World War Two. When Piotr’s parents are killed he is taken to an orphanage in Warsaw. But Piotr is a ‘Volksdeutscher’ of German blood, with the result that he is adopted by a German family and taken to live at the heart of the Nazi power, in Berlin.

 

How Piotr becomes Peter and adapts to the new life and particularly how he discovers that behind the apparent adulation of Hitler there are many dissenters taking great risks is a thrilling story which also offers fascinating insight into the lives of young Germans during the Second World War.

Oliver, from University College School London

Ausländer is an exciting and dramatic story of childhood and growing up as seen by Piotr, a German in Warsaw, during the Second World War. The story begins when Piotr’s parents are killed tragically leaving Piotr orphaned and alone. He is sent to an orphanage where shortly Germans takeover in search of young Nazi youth. They find that Piotr is a brilliant specimen and send him to a foster family called the Kaltenbachs. He is sent to live in the most powerful city of the time, Berlin, and sent to a Nazi youth club. 

 

Shortly Piotr begins to see that the perfect lifestyle he lives in is shadowed by something terrible. The family he lives with are 100% committed to the Nazi cause and Piotr has doubts about how Hitler is running the country. Piotr takes big risks that he believes are morally right and goes against the Nazis. Piotr is never quite accepted by the Germans and the youth in his club and when he meets Anna Reiter, a girl who is equally uncomfortable about how the country is run, [he is led] to do things he never imagined he would do.

 

I rate Ausländer 9/10 because it is a very interesting book to read and is exciting from start to finish. It offers an insight into the beginning of the Second World War between 1941-1943 as seen by an outsider from Poland who is trying to get used to the German ways, lifestyle and culture but his personality is leading in a very opposite direction which ends up putting his life at risk.

 

Oliver, from University College School London

Ausländer is a book about a boy who is growing up in the times of World War Two.

 

Ausländer is a tense and dramatic story about a boy called Piotr growing up in Berlin during World War Two. Piotr’s parents are killed and he is taken to an orphanage in Warsaw. But Piotr is of German blood with the result that he is adopted by a German family and taken to live at the heart of the Nazi power, in Berlin. How Piotr becomes Peter and adapts to the new life and particularly how he discovers that behind the apparent adulation of Hitler there are many dissenters taking great risks is a thrilling story which also offers an interesting insight into the lives of young Germans during World War Two.

 

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons. Firstly there was plenty of imagery in it, meaning that it felt like I was watching Peter through all of his adventures.

 

Secondly, the book had plenty of action and suspense. I really enjoyed this because it made me want to read on.

 

However, in the beginning I thought the pace was slow and boring; I nearly stopped reading because it was not interesting me at all.

 

So to conclude I really did enjoy this book due to its action, suspense and imagery. Ausländer is a book about a boy who is growing up in the times of World War Two.

 

Oren, from University College School London

Ausländer is a book set in wartime Germany and Poland in the late 1930s to early 1940s. It focuses on the harsh reality of being a young German growing up in Berlin; as the story progresses, Germany’s newfound military misfortune weaves itself into the behaviour of the characters and even affects the direction of the story itself.

 

The story is about a boy called Piotr. After Piotr’s native Poland is invaded by the Nazis, and both Piotr’s parents are killed, he is forced to live in a barely human Warsaw orphanage. While living at the orphanage Piotr is found to be ‘Volksdeutscher’ (of german blood); this leads him to be offered a life with a wealthy German family in Berlin who would be only too happy to welcome this Aryan boy into their fatherland. What follows is Piotr’s transformation into Peter, his battle to shed his former identity as a ‘Polak’ and his attempts to understand the Nazi world he has been brought into. As Peter discovers the darker side of national socialist ideals and falls foul of his new family and Hitler-youth squad he begins to realize that he is no longer the keen Nazi he once was. As he transforms (to his new family’s dismay) from the keen Nazi, to the open rebel brought out by his new friends Anna and Segur, his world of friendly support crumbles around him, and he realizes he can no longer stay in Nazi-Germany.

 

I was almost immediately addicted to Ausländer,  from the shocking scenes that Piotr witnesses on the streets of Berlin to the exciting scenes of rebellion and defiance, which add together to make it thoroughly gripping and interesting to read.

 

Steffy, from St James Catholic High School

This story is about a boy called Peter who lived in Poland, his parents were killed and he was sent to an orphanage in Berlin. At first, life in Berlin proves a relief to Peter; he joins the Hitler Youth and avidly listens to the war reports of Germany’s prowess on the battlefields. However, Peter becomes troubled by the activities of the Nazis and finds himself risking his life to protect those who are persecuted.

 

Ausländer gives a fascinating insight into life in Berlin during World War II and gives you a glimpse  of how a child’s life would have been at that time.

 

Overall I think this is a brilliant book and I would rate it 5/5! I would recommend this book for 11-year-olds and above, because it is pretty gruesome at the end.