I can't embed it here, but check out this video by Markus Zusak, author of the fantastic, The Book Thief. He talks a little about what inspired his book--family stories about being young in Nazi Germany.
Also, definitely read the book. It's extremely powerful.
I like how he says he didn't sit down to write a good YA book; he just wrote down to write someone's favorite book. And I think that's why it's YA--young adults want a good story and good characters, not pretension that's in a lot of adult lit. (Not that I don't enjoy adult lit. But I think a lot of times authors are focused on too many literary 'tricks' and miss the pure enjoyment of storytelling and creating engaging characters that really grab a reader.)