Paul Dowswell

On 30 November the author Paul Dowswell came to talk to us about his historical fiction novels. Although this is not the genre I would normally read, I found the talk very interesting.

He focused mainly on his novel Ausländer that is all about a Polish boy orphaned in WW2 and his story of living in a country with a dictator.

Paul Dowswell always researches the background before he writes a book to make sure there is no false information included. Firstly he talked to us about how the Nazis would use racial science to figure out which race/religion you truly were. Racial science was considered a proper study and you could learn it in university. Sadly this was taken seriously and if you were a Jew, Gypsy, Arab or black you would be killed or put in a starvation camp.

He then talked to us about the view the Nazis had on Jews. As many of us know, the Nazis killed a lot of Jews but it wasn’t just killing. One of the most popular children’s books at the time was about getting rid of Jews, disrespecting them and treating them differently. Some of the illustrations were children and teachers being chucked out of school and another a dirty butcher smoking a pipe and standing on meat. Instead of playing a game like Monopoly with your family you would play a game called ‘Jews out’ which was about overriding a Jewish business and driving them out of Germany. Additionally instead of having plain white envelopes they had a green envelope with a dirty pig with the Jewish star on its forehead and with some writing around the edge saying ‘Nazis in, Jews out’. At first Jews were put in starvation camps but then the Nazis started to kill them using gas; millions died. As you can see, it was a truly awful time and all the children were brainwashed into thinking these things.

Hitler didn’t only brainwash people into thinking that Jews were bad, he also brainwashed people into thinking that they should hail Hitler and join the Army when they were older. Every house had to have a picture of Hitler on the wall and even the dolls’ houses for children had pictures of Hitler on the wall. If you were a woman you could not join the army but they encouraged you to have children by giving you one medal if you had four or more children, two medals if you had six or more children and a very expensive large medal if you had eight or more children. The Nazi boys had to hail people in the streets when they saw people wearing these medals.

Mr Dowswell also talked about what it was like to live in a country with a dictator. You could not think your thoughts, you could not talk about politics without being reported to the secret police, you couldn’t say you were going to lose the war and you couldn’t say a word against Hitler. One boy handed out leaflets at his school saying he wants the war to end and he was executed.

I found this talk very interesting and I am really enjoying the novel so far; it is action-packed and very exciting. I would really recommend his books, especially if you enjoy historical fiction, and would rate his novels 5/5!

Izzy Mayes, Year 8

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