The Girl I Left Behind

Behind the Book: The Youth German Resistance and The Girl I Left Behind


Nazi Germany, 1941

Claudia is taken by the Gestapo, likely never to be seen again, unless Ella can save her…


The Girl I Left Behind is about two best friends in the youth German Resistance. One goes missing, while the other will do anything to find her, no matter the costs. But what is the youth German Resistance, exactly? And why did I write about this?

I got the idea for The Girl I Left Behind after watching a show on the History Channel that touched on the subject. I was immediately enthralled. These were kids, essentially, who grew up in Hitler’s Germany where Nazi indoctrination started in kindergarten. As these kids reached adulthood, they realized that what they had been taught to admire wasn’t worth admiring after all, and they resented the way the Nazi Party tried to control all facets of their life.

Didn’t know there was such a thing?

Neither did I until I started my research. Well, I knew a little, but mostly what I remembered was from watching Christian Bale in the 1990’s movie Swing Kids.

I started the research for my novel more than ten years ago. I went to the library, I read online journals and news articles. I also wrote emails to people in Nuremberg. Here’s what I found out: These youths were courageous, to say the least. The White Rose, probably one of the most notable youth resistance groups, was a passive group of young adults known for their anti-Nazi leaflets. The Swing Kids (not Christian Bale) was another. They were a group (and a movement) who openly resisted the confines of Nazi behavior. They listened to banned music and essentially behaved like American teens, which was absolutely scandalous and an arrestable offense. However, not all youth resistance groups were passive. The Leipzig Meuten and Edelweiss Pirates had a more aggressive strategy, one that used street bombs, mob attacks, and ambushes—they played the Reich at their own game.

Yet, in between these groups, between the passive and the aggressive, there were youths printing phony identification papers and providing safe houses for Jews. There were special sects—some of them female—who sabotaged patrols, schemed to assassinate Hitler, and infiltrated the Reich to spy for the British. When I learned this, the desire to have The Girl I Left Behind play out as a female-driven spy novel became too good to resist.

I wanted to write a novel that was plausible. I wanted to know what it was like to be a young woman in the resistance. How far would she go in the name of freedom? Most importantly, what would make her break? Sure, history can tell us these things, but through fiction we can feel them.

Did you know about the youth German Resistance before reading this post? Read more about the German Resistance in my book, The Girl I Left Behind.

Thanks for reading!


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