This realistic fiction book tells the story of two boys training then fighting in World War II. There is a German boy, named Dieter and an American boy named Spence.
The Hitler Youth was made up of German boys who were 14-16 years old. They helped to rebuild cities who were bombed by the Allies in WWII. They were also turned into a military reserve for the German Army.
Ten year old boy from Germany named Dieter tried to impress the older boys he hung out with. He wanted them to respect him and acted brave by jumping in a cold pond. He wanted to be like the older boys in the Hitler Youth who were getting ready for the war. His parents were peaceful, but Dieter wanted to fight for his country.
Spence was a fifteen year old boy from Utah. He wanted to be a paratrooper with the U.S. Army but couldn't because he is too young. His older brother joined the Navy in San Diego after the Pearl Harbor attack. Spence's parents said he couldn't join the Army.
The Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor. Many people in the U.S. Navy were killed. Many U.S. ships and planes were destroyed. The United States entered World War II against Japan and its ally, Germany.
The 17th Airborne Infantry Division fought in World War II. They were in the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity. The leader was Major General William M. Miley. Their nickname was the Golden Talons.
Spence was sixteen years old and dropped out of school. He talked his dad into signing his papers, so he could go to basic training. He trained in Georgia for 13 weeks to be in the Army paratroopers. Many people quit because it was so hard, but Spence didn't. He made his first airplane jump and was scared.
Dieter was 15 years old. He worked with the Hitler Youth on the Westwall digging trenches. He moved up the ranks fast. He watched his friend named Ernst get shot because he ran away. Dieter was a hard leader. He was awarded the highest civilian medal from Hitler.
Dieter joined the older men in fighting the Americans on the front lines. He slept in a fox hole many nights that he had to dig. He ate old cheese and bread and was cold a lot. He had an older solider that was his boss and protector. Dieter shot and killed his first American soldier. They called them Amis. He was a member of the 15th Army. He fought in a battle with the Americans and was shot. Spence saw Dieter was injured and saved his life. Dieter survived the war and went to a hospital. He realized when he was fighting that he missed his family and home very much.
Spence became part of the 17th Airborne Infantry Division. He trained in England after his basic training. He walked with his group to try to move the Germans back. He shot his first German soldier. He and his partner had to dig fox holes to sleep in at night. They ate rations and were cold. His partner was shot on a hill during one of their raids. Spence was injured and ordered to move back into the woods. He saw a young German soldier who was shot and needed help. He ran down the hill and wrapped his belt on the young German to save his life. The German boy was Dieter. Another German soldier shot Spence and he died on the hill. He was buried in Belgium, and his mom and dad had a funeral for him back home in Utah.
This battle was given its name for the way the Allies bulged inward on war maps. The United States, United Kingdom, Free Belgian Forces and Luxembourgish resistance were pushing the German Army. Survivors of the German Army retreated as they were defeated. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought in WWII. There were about 89,500 American losses and 67,200-100,000 German losses.
Germany surrendered to the Allies in WWII. General Alfred Jodl signed the papers that surrounded the German forces. German Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was in office until April 30, 1945. He and his wife killed themselves when they knew that they were losing the war and before the German forces surrendered.