As a child in 1930s Germany, Wolf Dettbarn was playful and curious, plopping old ladies’ hats into a bathtub to see if they would float and watching tadpoles hatch on the banks of the Werra River. At odds with his military family, Wolf dreamed of becoming a doctor, but the rising power of the Nazi Party changed the course of his adolescent life. At thirteen he was sent to the Adolf Hitler Schule in Bavaria and at seventeen he was conscripted into active duty, and all the while he struggled to hide his dislike for the school and the military, and his growing disillusion with the Nazi regime. When the war finally ended, Wolf set aside his military past and worked to rebuild his life and realize his childhood dreams.
Wolf, a natural storyteller, describes his transition from schoolboy to soldier to doctor with unaffected candor and insight, painting a picture of the fear, propaganda, and silence that surrounded him as Germany fell to pieces. Wolf’s reflection on his young adulthood is a story of devastation and resilience, proof that humanity can grow in the worst of conditions.