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It is very interesting to compare and contrast Atticus Finch and Helmuth Hubener. These two, a boy and a man, stuck up for what they believed and were heroes to many, even though they may have lived humble lives. Atticus is character in a novel and Helmuth is an actual person. However Atticus Finch and Helmuth Hubener, have many similarities. They have a lot of the same qualities such as bravery, and moral fiber, and a willingness to stick up for what is right no matter what the cost to them.
Atticus Finch plays the main character in the novel called To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus takes an unpopular stand in his small Southern community that, no matter what anyone else thought, he would try his best to defend Tom Robinson, regardless of Tom's color. According to Jem, this trial was "the most excitin' thing that ever happened in this town!" (Lee 15) Atticus Finch was one of the most valuable and knowledgeable citizens in Maycomb. He was so intelligent and had so much wisdom, that the people in Maycomb looked up to him. Atticus gets himself involved in a racial issue, and in those days racial issues were rarely resolved peacefully. The story of To Kill a Mockingbird took place during the time of the Great Depression and during this time whites and blacks didn’t get along. Statements such as "Your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for" (Lee 108) were common, which we find quite shocking now. Atticus was a white man and the man he was defending was a black man. Atticus a very good father to his two children, whose names are Jem and Scout. He does teach them wisdom and courage. These are the important factors of life and he was always on top of those.
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Atticus represents morality and reason in To Kill a Mockingbird. As a character, Atticus is even-handed throughout the story. He is one of the very few characters who never has to rethink his position on an issue.
His parenting style is quite unique in that he treats his children as adults, honestly answering anyquestion they have. He uses all these instances as an opportunity to pass his values on to Scout and Jem. Scout says that "'Do you really think so?' . . . was Atticus' dangerous question" because he delighted in helping people see a situation in a new light. Atticus uses this approach not only with his children, but with all of Maycomb. And yet, for all of his mature treatment of Jem and Scout, he patiently recognizes that they are children and that they will make childish mistakes and assumptions. Ironically, Atticus' one insecurity seems to be in the child-rearing department, and he often defends his ideas about raising children to those more experienced and more traditional.
His stern but fair attitude toward Jem and Scout reaches into the courtroom as well. He politely proves that Bob Ewell is a liar; he respectfully questions Mayella about her role in Tom's crisis. One of the things that his longtime friend Miss Maudie admires about him is that "'Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.'" The only time he seriously lectures his children is on the evils of taking advantage of those less fortunate or less educated, a philosophy he carries into the animal world by his refusal to hunt. And although most of the town readily pins the label "trash" on other people, Atticus reserves that distinction for those people who unfairly exploit others.
Atticus believes in justice and the justice system. He doesn't like criminal law, yet he accepts the appointment to Tom Robinson's case. He knows before he begins that he's going to lose this case, but that doesn't stop him from giving Tom the strongest defense he possibly can. And, importantly, Atticus doesn't put so much effort into Tom's case because he's an African American, but because he is innocent. Atticus feels that the justice system should be color blind, and he defends Tom as an innocent man, not a man of color.
Atticus is the adult character least infected by prejudice in the novel. He has no problem with his children attending Calpurnia's church, or with a black woman essentially raising his children. He admonishes Scout not to use racial slurs, and is careful to always use the terms acceptable for his time and culture. He goes to Helen's home to tell her of Tom's death, which means a white man spending time in the black community. Other men in town would've sent a messenger and left it at that. His lack of prejudice doesn't apply only to other races, however. He is unaffected by Mrs. Dubose's caustic tongue, Miss Stephanie Crawford's catty gossip, and even Walter Cunningham's thinly veiled threat on his life. He doesn't retaliate when Bob Ewell spits in his face because he understands that he has wounded Ewell's pride — the only real possession this man has. Atticus accepts these people because he is an expert at "climb[ing] into [other people's] skin and walk[ing] around in it."
Helmuth Hubener was a typical German youth, with the exception of his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He participated in Boy Scouts until Hitler disbanded it. Then he participated in the Hitler Youth, a military-style training required of all German youth. He excelled in his training, often answering detailed questions of policy and procedure to his friends. He even wrote an essay in school extolling Hitler's ideas.
However, when he saw how Hitler's regime began to treat the Jewish people in Germany, his conscience began to bother him. One night called 'the night of broken glass' (Kristallnacht), the Hitler Youth and the Gestapo (German police) broke the windows of all Jewish-owned businesses and threw their goods into the street. Synagogues were burned to the ground. Kristallnacht was particularly upsetting to Helmuth. However, the final straw may have been the sign he saw on the Mormon church house declaring that Jews were not welcome to worship there anymore. This was typical of the times in other churches, but unusual for a LDS congregation. Helmuth had a young friend who was Jewish that attended their church services. Helmuth was deeply disturbed to hear him crying outside the door of the chapel when they began singing the opening hymn without him.
About this same time, Helmuths' brother came home triumphant after a military battle. He brought with him an old broken radio. Helmuth fixed it and began listening to newscasts. There were only three stations to which the German people were allowed to listen. Helmuth found a more interesting one, the BBC or British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC Broadcasters shared the latest news from the battlefront with more detail and a decidedly different point of view. Helmuth discovered that the newscasts were so different that one had to be right and the other wrong. He decided that the German broadcasts were full of lies and propaganda meant to pacify the German people into support of the war. The BBC must be telling the truth.
Helmuth was breaking the law by listening to the BBC, but he persisted and invited his two closest friends to join him. Rudy Wobbe and Karl Heinz-Snibbe were terrified about breaking the law. Daily they heard of people being arrested and tortured for doing just that. But Helmuth had more dangerous plans. He wanted others to learn the truth. And he wanted Rudy and Karl to help him get the word out. They all agreed that the first one caught would confess to everything and not implicate the others. This helped ease Rudy's and Karl's minds.
Because Helmuth was asked by the Branch President to write letters to the young men in the church serving in the military, Helmuth had the church typewriter in his home. Helmuth began to type up small postcard sized notes in several copies using carbon paper, alerting people to the lies Hitler's regime had been spreading. Helmuth brought home from work an official stamp that the Nazi's used to verify that papers were government-issued. Using that stamp, he made the postcards look official. Rudy and Karl took the cards and discreetly taped them to bulletin boards, streetlamps and stuffed them into mail slots and people's pockets. When this worked and no one was caught, they started making full-page diatribes about Hitler's lies. One's headline shouted, "Hitler is the real murderer." Over the course of several months, Helmuth made 60 different pamphlets and hundreds of copies that were spread around his neighborhood in the city of Hamburg, Germany.
The Nazis became aware of the tracts pretty quickly. The Gestapo thought that a college professor had written them, and they looked long and hard for clues to find the perpetrator. Hitler could not risk having people learn what he was really doing or the war would be undermined. The source of this information needed to be stopped, and more—they needed to make an example of him or her. The Nazis never suspected that the author was a 16-year-old boy! That may have helped Helmuth and his friends continue undetected a bit longer. A quote from one tract:
"German boys! Do you know the country without freedom, the country of terror and tyranny? Yes, you know it well, but are afraid to talk about it. They have intimidated you to such an extent that you don't dare talk for fear of reprisals. Yes you are right; it is Germany — Hitler Germany! Through their unscrupulous terror tactics against young and old, men and women, they have succeeded in making you spineless puppets to do their bidding."
Helmuth was caught after asking another friend of his to translate his most recent tract into French. This friend took the tract to an informer who called the Gestapo and Helmuth was arrested within the hour. In his bedroom they found the official looking stamp, the radio and the typewriter with another half-way finished pamphlet still in it.
Helmuth confessed to the charges boldly. He was charged with High Treason and Conspiracy against the government. He was beaten in prison and denied bed or blankets in his cold cell. In addition, although he did give his friends' names to the authorities due to torture, he told them he was the only one who was guilty. He tried to protect them by taking full responsibility for the pamphlets.
Rudy and Karl were also beaten in prison. A trial was held in which Rudy and Karl were given lengthy prison sentences for their 'minimal' involvement. Helmuth was sentenced to death. The court found that Helmut's writings showed an advanced maturity and therefore he was tried as an adult. The family lost the clemency appeal. Hitler himself refused the appeal and ordered the sentence to stand. Helmuth was killed a few weeks later at age 17.
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