Jungvolk: The Story of a Boy Defending Hitler's Reichby Wilhelm R. Gehlen, Don A. Gregory
Will Gehlen’s father, a trolley driver, was drafted into the Wehrmacht to man a Sturmgeschutz assault gun
This is the wartime memoir of a boy named Will, who happened to be the nephew of the head of Nazi Germany’s intelligence agency, Foreign Armies East. After reading this book, the reader will wonder who had the most exciting time during World War II.
Will Gehlen’s father, a trolley driver, was drafted into the Wehrmacht to man a Sturmgeschutz assault gun in Russia. His older brother, Len, was enlisted in the Hitlerjugend. The author, only 10 years old when the war began, became a helper at the local Luftwaffe flak battery, fetching ammunition. It was exciting work for Will (a member of the “Jungvolk”) and by the end of the war he had become expert at judging attacks. As fighter raids increased in frequency he noted that the pilots became less skilled.
Aside from aircraft kills, Gehlen had other adventures during the war, as when his mother dragged him to visit his aunt in Luxembourg in 1944. Crossing the lines they found no aunt but met American troops, and were surprised when the German Army launched an offensive, overrunning the village and forcing US soldiers to retreat with casualties. Making their way back to Germany was even more perilous, until they discovered the most secure vehicles were mail trucks. No one, not even the SS, tried to interfere with their progress.
Gehlen’s town was repeatedly bombed and he often had to help with the wreckage or to pull survivors from basements. He witnessed more death than a child ever should; nevertheless, his flak battery continued firing until US tanks were almost on top of the position.
In this book Gehlen, provides an intimate glimpse of the chaos, horror and black humor of life just behind the front lines. As seen through the eyes of a child, who was expert in aircraft identification and bomb weights, food-rationing and tank types, one encounters a view of life inside Hitler’s wartime Reich that is both fascinating and rare.
- Casemate Publishers
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- 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Wilhelm Reinhard Gehlen was one of the thousands of children who were brought up in the 12 year Reich and like all children; he was called up to the Jungvolk and Hitler youth. His childhood was therefore entirely tailored by the National Socialist doctrine. Every child had an education that was watched over by the Party. He attended the Volks School (the Herbert Norkus School) until September, 1944 when lessons were stopped because of the nearing western front. His formal education was resumed in July 1945, after the war, with a new crop of teachers that had been de- nazified by the allied military authority. He left school in 1948 to learn to be an electrician, but the rebuilding program in Germany was not up to full steam at the time and money was scarce. To find something to earn a living, he joined the Foreign Legion and served in Indochina (Annam-Tonkin) and North Africa. After his discharge in 1959, he worked a short while for the International War Grave Commission of NATO, and retired in 1983. He now lives in the Smokey Mountains Area of Eastern Tennessee.
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Shared it with my grandfather
Anyone who reads battle stories, as well as anyone who has the inclination to send soldiers into war, should read this book• It will remind you that every soldier, no matter the uniform they wear or how noble or misguided their commanded cause, has a family, a wife, a child such as the little boy who narrates this story, anxiously awaiting their return---or solemnly standing at their gravesite decades later wondering "what if"• It's reminds us that familis are families - children are children - regardless of where live• With the unjust demonification of an entire nation, it is refreshing that someone has bravely stepped forward to tell this tale• To tell the world "We were all Germans, but we were NOT all Nazis• We were dads and sons and mothers - and little boys"• One day, perhaps, we will find better ways to resolve our problems•••ways that don't leave widows or orphans wetting the headstones of their loved ones• Perhaps we could get to that day sooner if every leader who contemplates sending soldiers into battle would simply take the time to read this book first• Maybe I'm being too idealistic• Maybe if there were more idealistic politicians there would be less national cemetaries•••and would that be a bad thing? Very good book•
This book gives the reader an insight into family life under Hitler's rule of Germany.It has all family aspects from the Grandfather to 10 year old Will. Great read ,I couldn't put the book down untill the end.