Young Adult

Do Not Give in to Hope:
The Story of a German Jew in the Time of Hitler


This is a tale that gave me nightmares when I was a child. It's about something that really happened during the time of Adolf Hitler.

So begins Do Not Give in to Hope, the true story of the brief life of my uncle, Helmut Hirsch. Part family memoir, part documentary history, it draws on the memories of his sister, his own journals and a handful of extraordinary letters he wrote from prison, the recently discovered transcript of his secret trial, and newspaper accounts of international efforts to save his life.

Helmut Hirsch lived between the two great wars of the twentieth century, and he died before the mass extermination we call the Holocaust began. He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1916, a stateless Jew whose family had been repeatedly displaced by war and the ever-changing map of Europe. He grew up in an educated, middle-class family. Like many of his generation, he was deeply patriotic. Like some, he saw the nightmare that lay ahead. Like a few, he risked his life to try to stop it before it was too late.

As a university student he became involved with an underground organization and was enlisted in a sabotage plot. Before he was able to follow through on the plan, he was arrested by the Gestapo. A secret tribunal found him guilty of conspiracy to commit high treason against the Third Reich and sentenced him to death. Despite an international campaign to save his life, including the efforts of the American ambassador to Germany, he was beheaded in June 1937, at the age of 21.


This book takes place before most people recognized the threat Adolf Hitler represented. Those who did see it were branded traitors; those who acted, as Helmut Hirsch did, might be called terrorists today.

What makes an idealistic young man contemplate an act of violence against the country he loves? What happens to that idealism in the face of death? Does that young man's life tell a story that has meaning today?

We live in a time when the witnesses to the Nazi terror are nearly all dead but the voices of the Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis are louder than ever. Knowledge about the rise of Hitler and the atrocities committed in his name must not be lost to future generations.


To read a sample or the entire 150-page manuscript, contact: Barbara Ravage

Links to more information about Helmut Hirsch:

Brandeis University Archives
Wikipedia article by Barbara Ravage




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Young Adult
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