Forget That You Have Been Hitler Soldiers: A Youth's Service to the Reich

Hermann O. Pfrengle, Wilbur D. Jones Jr.

  • Forget That You Have Been Hitler Soldiers: A Youth's Service to the Reich

Hermann Pfrengle's World War II memoir describes in remarkable and breathtaking detail the unorthodox life and travails of an adolescent German boy on the war-scarred home front. As a member of the Jungvolk, a group loosely associated under the Hitler Youth organization, he helped construct the Siegfried Line, dodged bombs and cleared rubble with civilian defense, and worked in the war effort. A high-school student near Mainz on the Rhine River until his school was bombed, he rose in leadership positions while watching his country's fortunes deteriorate.

In March 1945, as the war neared an end, at age 15, he and some of his Jungvolk unit were called to "active duty" in paramilitary roles with the Wehrmacht, hoping to stop the rapid advance of the American forces nearing the Rhine. Seeing combat, death, and destruction firsthand, Pfrengle served in supply, courier, and flak helper support roles during the Wehrmacht's retreat into Czechoslovakia. He and his regular army comrades came to fear the fanatical SS as much as U.S. bullets. Two days before Germany surrendered, General George S. Patton's troops captured him, and for three weeks he was a prisoner of war. On his release, the Americans admonished him and his home town buddies to "forget that you have been Hitler soldiers." By virtue of his seniority, maturity, and sense of responsibility, he became their leader.

It took them two months to work their way home, encountering the mayhem that was a defeated and depleted Germany. Mostly on foot and also illegally hopping trains, and among thousands of displaced persons, military police, victorious but kind American soldiers, and bewildered citizens, he foraged for sustenance, shelter, clothing, and medical care. The remarkable, passionate story of his journey back to his parents, who had not heard from him in four months, is an unforgettable account of courage, ingenuity, and perseverance at any age.

The book focuses on people and human-interest subjects, not the war itself, supplemented by several maps and personal photographs. To aid the reader, the authors provide an introduction to the German involvement in the war, Wehrmacht organization, the land campaigns in Europe, and a glossary, index, and bibliography.

Hermann Pfrengle's memoir adds an in-depth perspective to life on the German home front and the service of youth to the Third Reich, views of World War II history often improperly treated by historians.

Author Hermann O. Pfrengle ; Wilbur D. Jones Jr.
Pages 212
Images 23
Maps 1
Bibliography Yes
Index Yes
  • $24.95

Tags: 9781572492172, Hermann O. Pfrengle, Wilbur D. Jones Jr.