PERSONAL: Children: one daughter.
ADDRESSES: Home—Hamburg, Germany. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
Daniel Half Human: And the Good Nazi (young adult), translated from the German by Doris Orgel, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: German educator and playwright David Chotjewitz's young-adult novel Daniel Half Human: And the Good Nazi was translated by Doris Orgel for an English-speaking audience. School Library Journal reviewer Ginny Gustin commented that the translation "reads smoothly and movingly," and called the novel "an outstanding addition to the large body of World War II/Holocaust fiction."
Chotjewitz's story opens in 1945, with American army officer Daniel Kraushaar working as a translator for the Allies in his home town of Hamburg. The story is told in flashbacks to the years 1933 to 1939, when the Nazis rose to power. Then age thirteen, Daniel, the son of a prominent attorney, is best friends with Armin, a less-well-off boy who attends school on a scholarship. The two boys paint swastikas and ready themselves to join Adolf Hitler's youth movement, which both sets of parents oppose. Finally, Daniel's parents tell him that his mother is Jewish, and the spoiled boy is horrified by this revelation and by the fact that his father had married his mother. As their child, Daniel is now consider only "half human," while Armin is the "good Nazi." Armin is under pressure to dissolve his friendship with Daniel, but he is also smitten with Daniel's Jewish cousin, Miriam. Daniel's father mistakenly feels that his heroic World War I service will exempt the family from harm, but his wife urges him to emigrate. The story's point of view alternates between characters, and as the boys age, Daniel as an older teen becomes wiser.
A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "the structure demands a sophisticated reader…. The stunning conclusion will spark debate not only about what happened but about the collision of duty and friendship." Horn Book contributor Susan P. Bloom felt that Chotjewitz is convincing in his portrayal of the allure of Hitler and his movement, German opposition, and the way in which Nazi propaganda cleared away the resistance. Bloom wrote that "no book stages Kristallnacht more chillingly, its horrors turning on a single event brilliantly manipulated by the Nazis."
A Kirkus Reviews contributor praised Daniel Half Human for the way in which it demonstrates the family's experiences before the war, and for "its nuanced approach to the complexity of emotions and relationships under stress." Booklist critic Hazel Rochman called the novel a "friendship drama that keeps raising ethical questions to the very last page."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Daniel Half Human: And the Good Nazi, p. 231.
Horn Book, November-December, 2004, Susan P. Bloom, review of Daniel Half Human, p. 705.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2004, review of Daniel Half Human, p. 912.
Publishers Weekly, November 29, 2004, review of Daniel Half Human, p. 41.
School Library Journal, December, 2004, Ginny Gustin, review of Daniel Half Human, p. 140.