The Untold Story of the Edelweiss Pirates

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In the book “Flowers in the Gutter” by K. R. Gaddy, the untold stories of rebellion and sacrifice are seen in a new light: in the perspective of teenagers in Cologne and Ehrenfeld, Germany that are known as the Edelweiss Pirates. Though it is not written in a traditional form of telling the story in one person’s perspective, it tells the story of three working class teenagers along with other important roles in the resistance. The stories and adventures of the resistance are told after long hours of research in Gestapo records and memoirs.

Each chapter of the story is separated by time in years and the three different perspectives of the teenagers. Each of the teenagers do not know each other very well, but they have run-ins with each other occasionally. The main focus of the chapters are how each teen plays a part in the resistance against the Germans. Each of the three teenagers, Jean, Gertrud and Fritz, are somehow involved in the secret network of Bündische youth groups, attempting to sabotage anything that they can possible to throw of the Germans. 

All of the main characters are well developed over the course of their three different timelines. Each of the chapters fall around relatively the same time, allowing the reader to keep up with the three teens without jumping forward or back in time. The whole story is separated into chunks by years. The author adds a description, offering to the reader what it would be like to live and see the years that the three teens did. It shows what situation your family might be in during those years or what Germany looked like then.  

The book included many black and white photos from the places described in the chapters that the characters went to and pictures of the characters themselves with their youth group and friends. Many are dated or are dated as close as possible to the date they were photographed. Some of the subjects include The Central Train Station and the Cologne Cathedral, the EL-DE House and Brauwieler, two prisons. Information was clearly stated, some quotes from memoirs and Gestapo records. If it was unclear on the date, the author used astrix to explain the reason for stating something in a particular way or dating it with a certain phrase. Gestapo information was presented on pages throughout the book on pages printed to look worn down and torn on the edges and using a typewriter-like font to make it look like a real record. 

Though there are some parts that are more graphically described than others, it is geared towards a more mature crowd or those interested in WWII or war history. Some of the words used in the book are more advanced but otherwise, it is an easy read. It is not loaded with so much information it’s hard to keep track of but it doesn’t lack information either. It has some problems that it addresses that have to do with the war and are a bit harder to swallow for the younger audience.

Note: This book is expected to be published in Jan. 2020.