Most of us have probably had several history classes that covered Hitler and his regime in World War II. But buried deep in the facts are atrocities we never learned about. Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair is a sad story of German families split apart when the plot to kill Hitler goes wrong. Here’s the synopsis from National Geographic:

During the summer of 1944, a secretive network of German officers and civilians banded together for Operation Valkyrie in order to make a last attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  Their plot was meant to take place at the Wolf’s Lair, the dictator’s headquarters in East Prussia where he spent nearly half of World War II. It failed. An enraged Hitler demanded revenge.

I’ve come on orders from Berlin to fetch three children.” – Gestapo agent, August 24, 1944

With those chilling words twelve-year old Christa von Hofacker, her younger siblings and countless other children of the Valkyrie conspirators found themselves ensnared in a web of family punishment. The furious dictator sought merciless vengeance against not only Christa’s father and the other Germans who had tried to topple their regime, but also their far-flung family members too.  Revenge was meticulously planned for all of them — including every last child.  Within weeks, Gestapo agents had taken as many as 200 relatives from their homes, separating the adults from the children, and punishing them all.

The Ghost Children were 44 innocent victims, the oldest about 15. They were hidden away at a camp while many of their parents were hanged or shot. Their youth snatched away and they had no idea why. Slowly they begin to make the connection one of their parents must be involved in the plot to bring down Hitler. It would be decades later before their story would be told, mostly through the diary of one of the Ghost Children, Christa von Hofacker.

Seven enticing chapters take you on a trip back in time:

  • Chapter 1—HITLER’S RISE
  • Chapter 3—VALKYRIE
  • Chapter 4—HITLER’S REVENGE
  • Chapter 6—HITLER’S DEMISE

The story is one for upper MG and YA, or adults like me who want to learn the truth of all that went on during the Hitler years. ENSNARED IN THE WOLF’S LAIR would make a perfect centerpiece in a classroom or individual study of WWII. It’s a superbly researched tale and one you will never forget.


Ann Bausum is an award-winning children’s book author who brings history alive by connecting readers to personal stories from the past that echo in the present day.  Using Christa Von Hofacker’s diary, rare photographs and personal interviews with survivors, Ann presents the spine-chilling little-known stories of the failed Operation Valkyrie plot, the revenge that it triggered and the families caught in the fray.

(For a more detailed look at Ann and her books, visit her website)


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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in non fiction, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. This sounds like a must read for me. I am definitely going to look for it. I am so curious after reading your post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. WOW! I just checked my library and asked them to order a copy. I never heard about this story.
    I knew there was a plot, but I didn’t know anything more than that. I know my husband will want to read this book too.. You should share this on MMGM.

  3. Pingback: Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair by Ann Bausum | Children's Books Heal

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