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So, Kids might be a bit too young but I'm unsure about the age, so let me start about what i can remember:

  1. While growing up people develop an "affinity" for an element.(Fire/Water/Earth/..?)
  2. This enables them to interact with it in a special way, like a smith could touch the hot coals without getting burned, or make them even hotter.
  3. The story evolves around 4? Kids that are said to be born every ?? years and develop this affinity even further, like having complete mastery over an element.
  4. One of these Kids is a bully and even forces himself on a girl.
  5. This one later develops the power to "sense the life force" still present in dead body's and learns to reanimate them

That's as far is a can clearly remember. The German book cover was mainly white, but showed an rising/dropping sun (several colors for different books(3 at least) like orange, red, blue) with something in front.

I thought the author started with Joe, but could not find the correct one. Might be complete wrong with that one.

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+50

I am reasonably sure you're looking for James Barclay's Ascendants of Estorea series consisting of two books:

  1. The Cry of the Newborn
  2. A Shout for the Dead

During the translation process each book was split into two books thus there are four German books with predominantly white covers.

These books are different from your description in that the four children are the first ever to be born with magic abilities. Otherwise, it seems very close to your description, including the cover design. Here's a small snippet from the first book's description from Amazon:

As the empire trembles, far from the war four unique children are discovering their powers. They are the first true Ascendants, in touch with the elements, able to shape the world. An empire descending into war is about to discover the wonder and terror of magic ...

Here's a link the the German National Library's record of the first book: Die Kinder von Estorea: Teil 1 - Das verlorene Reich.

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