Auslander by Paul Dowswell

When Peter’s parents are killed, he is sent to an orphanage in Warsaw. Then German soldiers take him away to be measured and assessed. They decide that Peter is racially valuable. He is Volksdeutscher: of German blood. With his blond hair, blue eyes, and acceptably proportioned head, he looks just like the boy on the Hitler- Jugend poster. Someone important will want to adopt Peter. They do. Professor Kaltenbach is very pleased to welcome such a fine Aryan specimen to his household. People will be envious. But Peter is not quite the specimen they think. He is forming his own ideas about what he is seeing, what he is told. Peter doesn’t want to be a Nazi, and so he is going to take a very dangerous risk. The most dangerous risk he could possibly choose to take in Berlin in 1942.


12 thoughts on “Auslander by Paul Dowswell

  1. In my opinion, Auslander was okay…there’s no other way to describe it to be honest. I really don’t like books about war all together and this one was definitely aimed at the boys.

    For me the beginning was very slow so I found it hard to get into this book, however as the story unfolded and the suspense grew I found it getting harder to put down. As with most of the other books I found the ending slightly disappointing but not bad enough to ruin the book. I would give this book a 6/10 but wouldn’t read it again unless there was nothing else.

  2. This isn’t normally the type of book I would pick up to read but the storyline is great. I loved the history in the book as it gave me a better insight to what it was really like .

  3. This is not the type of book I like to read….I couldn’t get into the story easily but it was good at the end

  4. I found Auslander a truly enlightening and engaging read. Usually I’m not a fan of war books but I loved the angle it was taken from and it was brilliant to watch a rebellion stir right under Hitler’s nose. I especially loved their visit to the swing dance, which made the dark world and rebellion seem that much lighter. Lots of people have said that they found the ending disappointing but I have to disagree! I thought the ending was perfect and I was so genuinely terrified that it was all going to go wrong at the very last minute but I was so surprised (because it seemed Peter was destined for doom) when it turned on its head and they made it to Sweden. I adored watching Anna and Peter’s relationship blossom, which I thought added a lot to the plotline.
    I wouldn’t say that it’s a book I would regularly get out from the library or indeed read a second time but I feel that my life has turned a bit richer from reading it because I will never look at WW2 quite the same way again.

    by Lucy

  5. I loved this book; it was a truly good read and I really enjoyed it (partially because it’s the type of book that I would normally read). I especially liked the fact that it was written from the point of view of someone inside Nazi Germany because the majority of wartime books (that I’ve read anyway) are written from a British perspective. (And, from the phone interview that our book group did with Paul Dowswell, I know that it was his intention to make it different in this way.)

  6. Auslander is an intriguingly different book, based around the life of young orphan Piotr/Peter Bruck. He is of German blood, but has lived in Poland all of his life. When his parents are killed, he is given the chance to be adopted by a rather powerful German family. But he slowly begins to see that he is different from others, an “Auslander” (a foreigner). Slowly he begins to see the real side of WW2.
    Sadly, many readers may be left cold by the writing style. It has a constantly slow speed, and the ending is an anti-climax. The author has tried to make it so historically accurate – which it is – that he has not used any interesting literary techniques.
    However, the book has many strong chapters and twists. Elsbeth’s confession was beautifully written, and the contrasting relationship between Kaltenbach and Peter was superb.
    For history lovers, or anyone who wants to know about WW2 from a new angle, I would certainly recommend this book.

  7. Auslander had a really good story and took me by surprise. One of my friends reading it said he wanted to rebel… so he joins a swing band. It’s sufficient to say everyone was kind of unimpressed but after reading the book we found out that there was a lot more to come. It’s extremely well written and had me taken at the first page. None of the characters — except perhaps Anna — are as they first appear and it is realistic in that it shows that many of the Nazis weren’t all bad but they most definitely weren’t all good either. The ending was really lacking and it seemed like the last little chapter was a bit rushed. It was a very good book and I really enjoyed reading it.

    By Simran

  8. I couldn’t get into this book easily as it is not my type of book. I found it difficult to connect to the characters properly.

  9. I’m busy reading Auslander. It’s probably going to take the longest to read. I can’t really get into it but still have plenty time left. I think I’m more interested in horror and fantasy stories.

  10. I found Auslander a fantastic book, one that caught my attention from beginning to end. I enjoyed reading and understanding what it might have been like to be in Germany or Poland during Hitler’s reign. I was shock to find that people worshipped Hitler as a God, one that would bring a new age of human races. I can feel from reading the book that the writer has done a lot of background research in order to describe and set the right atmosphere of Second World War in Germany and Poland. It was interesting to read that not all German people worship Hitler as some would think that the fact of it was that all people in Germany could not even trust people in their own family or neighbourhood let alone country.

  11. When I started reading this book I knew I couldn’t get into it from the start, it’s difficult to read and it’s not my type of story. I had read up to the second chapter and I didn’t know what i wanted to do, keep on reading or keep on getting confused and stop. I had to hand it back into the library as this war book is for someone who is interested in history, my types of books are fantasy, horror and crime scenes.

  12. Auslander is a heart-racing story of danger and survival in Nazi Germany. Told from an unusual angle – from the point of view of a Polish orphan moved to live with a Nazi German family this book keeps you gripped from the first chapter. Peter is ‘Volksdeutscher’ meaning of German blood, so when his parents are killed he is sent to Berlin to live with the Kaltenbach family. The Kaltenbachs are very Nazi and soon Peter realises he does not share the same ideas as them. Keeping it to himself, he falls in love and starts to realise there are others around him who feel the same way against Nazi Germany. A message Peter learns on more than one occasion, is that you can’t always judge someone by first impressions. This thrilling story portrays the dangers of wartime, giving great detail to what happened to those judged dispensable by the Nazis. This book is well researched and includes all the details to make this not just a very enjoyable novel, but educational too. A great way for those interested in discovering more about what it was like to live in Germany during World War Two, and showing people that not all Germans were Nazis.

    By Kaajal

    Auslander is an unusual book, not like anything you have read before! Based in WW2 Nazi Germany it is a story of a polish boy (Peter) adopted into a German family. But Peter doesn’t want to be a Nazi. He falls in love with a girl called Anna, who feels the same way as him. They both then try and help some of the Jews who are hiding in the city, but this leads to terrible consequences! The ending of this book is amazing, and will have you on the edge of your seat worrying! But I do feel that some parts in the middle the book are a bit boring and go on for too long. But the amazing ending makes up for all of this! When reading this book you must make sure you stick at it and keep reading as it gets a lot better towards the end. The ending is definitely not what you would expect.

    By Freya

    Ausländer is a book that I can’t imagine anybody hating. The plot that is so creatively crafted within the lifestyle descriptions is one that is impossible to forget. The characters of Peter and Anna are portrayed in such a way that it is easy to relate to their situation and understand the dilemma of love and safety that they are in.
    Seeing as I really enjoy historical fiction, this was the ideal book for me. But as an avid reader I can perhaps see why some people who enjoy other genres of literature may find it a little less enjoyable. The character of Peter is one that draws empathy from the reader by simply being in the position he is under the wrath of the Nazi regime. The mere fact that he is so distantly linked with a Jewish background forces him to flee from a possible death by the unforgiving hand of the Fuhrer. Feeling sorrow for Peter is cleverly contrasted when his love for Anna Reiter is introduced by chance. The one good thing the Nazis did for Peter was bring him to Anna, bring him happiness. I think that the hint of passion incorporated with the destruction and renowned malice of the Nazis gives an interesting twist to this piece of literature.
    I especially enjoyed reading the part in the book when Elsbeth reveals all to her adopted brother, Peter Bruck. I felt a great surge of empathy with Elsbeth when she recalled what traumas she had been through with the T-4 Aktion because of the strain her parents had put on her to carry on with the cruel doings of the German doctors at that time. It was a very intelligent thing on behalf of Paul Dowswell to link the malicious, dangerous works of Elsbeth’s previous jobs to the tranquillity and safety of her Post Office Job. Elsbeth’s resistance shows that there were many Germans who did not completely agree with Adolf Hitler’s tyrannical rule. It was also fascinated to read that when Elsbeth went to quit the T-4 Aktion, the doctor in charge did not try to stop her; he understood why she was to do what she was doing. This also re-inforces the fact that even though people knew of the terrible consequences that would haunt them after the Nazi regime, they still went through with the crimes.
    All in all, I could confidently say that Ausländer is a strong contender in the Award because of the empowering descriptions and relevant plot that are fed to the reader.

    By Jessica

    Thrust into the horrifying world of Nazi Germany, the reader follows the life of rebellious orphan Peter Bruck in Paul Dowswell’s stunning novel, Ausländer. The terrifying tale grips the reader until the very end with twists at every corner. The title Ausländer, meaning foreigner, describes Peter at every point in the book – a German-blood living in Poland then an anti-Nazi Pole living in Germany. The research behind the book is evident and helps make the tale more believable and the characters easier to indentify with. Ausländer shows us a side of Nazi Germany that is rarely seen, especially in teenage novels. It grips the rather adult concept by the horns and presents it in a way that teenagers can identify with – particularly because it is seen in the eyes of a teenage boy. I absolutely loved this book; Ausländer is a fast paced and immensely inspiring thriller about bravery, fear and the discovery of personal identity.

    By Karina

    Auslander is a very interesting read. It is about a Polish boy, adopted into a wealthy German family, during the Second World War. Pitor (the boy) loves his new life at first, but then begins to see the horror that Hitler, the great leader is causing, especially to the Jews. He meets Anna, a girl who helps Jews. They decide to leave Germany, but have to endure a dangerous escape plan.
    This book is very informative, as it gives the reader a lot of historical information, so it would be especially good if the reader was a history enthusiast. It was very interesting to see the point of view of a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany, as at school we only hear about the English side of matters. This book is very sad, at one point I had a tear in my eye! I found it a good length, it doesn’t drag out, which is what really annoys me in a book. The plot is very good, and overall it’s an exciting, well written book, and I would recommend it, especially to history enthusiasts!

    By Olivia

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