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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Daniel Half Human
by David Chotjewitz
Age Range: 12+
The persecution of the Jews in Germany before and during the Second World
War has been previously featured in countless books aimed at young people,
but in Daniel Half Human the subject is presented from a different perspective.
Daniel believes himself to be Aryan, but then he finds out that his mother is
Jewish, making him half Jewish and therefore half human in the eyes of the
‘supreme’ Aryan race. This discovery causes an enormous amount of psychological
upheaval for Daniel, particularly as his best friend Armin is an active member of
the Hitler Youth. He is being indoctrinated by the system to hate the Jews and later
discovers the truth about Daniel, that will test their friendship to the limit.
David Chotjewitz, through his main character Daniel, skillfully conveys the absurdity of the hatred of Jews in Germany during the 1930s before the outbreak of war. This is a powerful novel, difficult to put down, which has been poignantly written and beautifully translated. This is an important contribution to anti-Semitism and Second World War literature for adolescents.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)