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The Edelweiss Pirates

Written by Dirk Reinhardt

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The Edelweiss Pirates Review

Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Gritty Reads Historical Fiction Thrillers Warfare / Battles

Moving, gripping adventure story of the anti-Nazi rebellion of an extraordinarily brave band of working class youths in WWII

Translated by Rachel Ward

With an illuminating contextualising foreword by Michael Rosen, Dirk Reinhardt’s The Edelweiss Pirates is a tremendously-told story of astonishing courage as a group of young people living under the brutal Nazi regime launch risky rebellions.


The graceful, pacey story begins when sixteen-year-old Daniel encounters an old man, Josef, at a cemetery. Josef is there visiting the grave of his brother, who was murdered during the war. “It’s a long story,” he explains. “But it might interest you. You especially!” Intrigued, Daniel discovers where Josef lives and visits him, whereupon he shares his diary, which reveals how Josef and a band of fellow brave teenagers rebelled against Nazi atrocities.


As a teenager, Josef left the Hitler Youth for The Edelweiss Pirates - a group of compellingly cool youngsters. In his words, “they’ve got style: checked shirts and bright neck scarves, leather jackets and belts with huge buckles. Some have straps on their wrists and kind of fancy hats on their heads”. Driven by a motto of freedom, the Pirates initially hang out together to enjoy themselves and let loose but, as Nazi atrocities escalate, they plot and implement perilous missions to undermine the regime.


Reeling with details of real-life struggles and feats, and a riveting sense of drama, this is an extraordinary novel about an extraordinary group of youngsters whose lesser-known story reveals the capacity of the human spirit to stand up and risk all to confront barbarism and injustices. It’s a poignant page-turner to the nth degree.

Joanne Owen

The Edelweiss Pirates Synopsis

When sixteen-year-old Daniel befriends Josef Gerlach, he feels the old man is haunted by a secret from his past. Sure enough when Josef gives him his teenage diary to read, Daniel discovers a shocking story of rebellion and struggle.

This diary tells how Josef left the Hitler Youth for a gang called The Edelweiss Pirates.

Their uniform: long hair and cool clothes.

Their motto: freedom!

At first the Pirates are only interested in hanging out and having a good time, but as the situation in Nazi Germany gets worse, they start to plan dangerous missions against Hitler's regime-soon they are fighting for their lives.

The deeper Daniel dives into this past world, the more closely he feels connected to Gerlach, until he realises what the Edelweiss Pirates have to do with him and his own story.

The Edelweiss Pirates Press Reviews

'A powerful, moving and important story' Michael Rosen

'An unknown story we should all know, about the triumph of courage and the human spirit.' Michael Morpurgo

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781782693093
Publication date: 26/08/2021
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781782693093
Publication date: 26th August 2021
Author: Dirk Reinhardt
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Gritty Reads, Historical Fiction, Thrillers, Warfare / Battles
Collections: Armistice Day: A Collection of Remembrance - Spark Interest and Educate Children about Historical Moments,

About Dirk Reinhardt

Dirk Reinhardt, born in 1963, studied German and history before becoming a freelance journalist and starting to write books for children and young adults. The Edelweiss Pirates is his third novel. 

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