A colleague of mine at FHS had used a Choose Your Own Adventure style story to explore the Russian Revolution and the choices people made that led them to join the Bolsheviks or not. I was inspired to write my own Choose Your Own Adventure about 1930s Germany, an era that I love studying and teaching.
I wanted to show how different elements in people’s lives (economics, social pressure, family pressure, etc) could cause people to become involved with the National Socialists and how it seemed pretty harmless at first. Many of the elements of the story are inspired by Gisela Heidenreich’s “Das Endlose Jahr” which tells her life story and explains her mother’s involvement with the Nazis. Other elements are based on works of fiction from that era such as “Trummlerbub unter’m Hakenkreuz” which dramatized the Hitler Youth, and “Das kunstseidene Maedchen” which described a young woman living in the city in the 1920s.
Feel free to use this story with students. I printed out class copies for students to read and then return to me rather than printing out 100+ copies for each students to keep one. If you use this with your students, please credit my authorship. Thanks. :-)
Choose your own Adventure: Weimar Germany, 1933
By Whitney Nielsen
You are Gisela Schneider, a 17 year-old girl living in Munich, a city in southern Germany. You live with your parents and two younger sisters, but times are tough. Your father has been fired from his job as a train conductor and has been looking for a job for months. Your mother has been washing other people’s laundry to earn money for the family, but it is barely enough to pay the rent and buy bread.
You want to graduate from high school and get a modern job, perhaps being a stenographer or a typist, but your family cannot afford to pay for the abitur, the test you need to take to earn your diploma.
You decide to try to get a part-time job to help support your family, and maybe pay for the abitur exam. You spend all afternoon walking from shop to shop, applying for jobs. You have to walk because you cannot afford to ride the streetcar. No one seems to be hiring. You return home, desperate.
Your uncle comes to visit your family. He suggests that you apply for a job as a part-time secretary at the military academy he teaches at, which is run by the National Socialist Party. He says you can work after school and on the weekends, typing and keeping records for the school. You’re not sure you want to work at a military academy—let alone run by the Nazis—but you don’t seem to have many other options. Will you take the job?
If you will take the job, turn to page 2.
If you don’t want the job, turn to page 3.