The Boy Who Fol­lowed His Father into Auschwitz: A True Sto­ry Retold for Young Readers

July 8, 2022

This pow­er­ful, mov­ing mid­dle-grade adap­ta­tion of the adult inter­na­tion­al best­selling nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion book, The Boy Who Fol­lowed His Father into Auschwitz, shines a light on the true sto­ry of two broth­ers who expe­ri­enced the atroc­i­ties of the Holo­caust in very dif­fer­ent ways.

Fritz Klein­mann was four­teen when the Nazis took over Vien­na. Kurt, his lit­tle broth­er, was eight. Under Hitler’s bru­tal regime, their Aus­tri­an Jew­ish fam­i­ly of six was cru­el­ly torn apart.

Tak­en to Buchen­wald con­cen­tra­tion camp, Fritz and his Papa, Gus­tav, under­went hard labor and star­va­tion. Mean­while, Kurt made the dif­fi­cult voy­age, all alone, to Amer­i­ca, to escape the war.

When Papa was ordered to the infa­mous Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp, Fritz — des­per­ate not to lose his beloved father — insist­ed he must go too. Togeth­er, they endured count­less atroc­i­ties to survive.

Jere­my Dron­field authen­ti­cal­ly and accu­rate­ly cap­tures this fam­i­ly tale of brav­ery, love, hope, and sur­vival with the help of exten­sive research and pri­ma­ry sources like Gustav’s diary and inter­views with fam­i­ly mem­bers. Maps, black-and-white pho­tos, a time­line of events, a glos­sary, and more are included.

Discussion Questions

Embark on a pow­er­ful jour­ney through his­to­ry with The Boy Who Fol­lowed His Father into Auschwitz, a heart­felt 2020 mem­oir now retold for mid­dle-grade read­ers. It stars Fritz, a coura­geous young boy whose sto­ry unfolds against the back­drop of World War II and Auschwitz. This adap­ta­tion brings Fritz’s expe­ri­ences to a younger audi­ence with sen­si­tiv­i­ty and age-appro­pri­ate insight.

Fritz con­fronts the hor­rors of the Holo­caust along­side his father. Their unbreak­able bond becomes a bea­con of hope in a world shroud­ed in dark­ness. Amid all the death and suf­fer­ing, Fritz dis­cov­ers strength and resilience — and, in a man­ner strik­ing for Holo­caust lit­er­a­ture, exer­cis­es agency and choice. Again and again, he turns to courage, devel­ops com­pas­sion, and devotes him­self to the endur­ing pow­er of family.

Through vivid sto­ry­telling, The Boy Who Fol­lowed His Father into Auschwitz invites young minds to explore the pro­found lessons of his­to­ry. It nei­ther san­i­tizes the real­i­ty of the con­cen­tra­tion camps nor over­whelms with infor­ma­tion; it strikes a per­fect bal­ance, allow­ing curi­ous read­ers to learn and grow along­side Fritz. His nar­ra­tive serves as a pow­er­ful reminder of the resilience of the human spir­it and the impor­tance of empa­thy in the face of injus­tice. It’s impos­si­ble to leave this book with­out a more vivid under­stand­ing of the evils of the Nazis — or with­out an even deep­er appre­ci­a­tion for all that is good in the human heart. 

Fol­low­ing an accu­rate chronol­o­gy, this com­pelling adap­ta­tion focus­es on Fritz’s trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ences, spark­ing con­ver­sa­tions about the past; the tri­umph of the human spir­it; and the indomitable will to sur­vive. Join Fritz on a jour­ney that tran­scends time as he finds love and strength in the most unex­pect­ed places.