'The Werwolf' - Adolf Hitler's group of terrorist children

The Werwolf had about 5,000 members recruited from the SS and the Hitler Youth, but at the end of the War, the group was made up of an average age of14-year-old boys.

By ALON EINHORN
April 5, 2019 16:40
9 March 1945: Goebbels awards a 16-year-old Hitler Youth, Willi Hübner, the Iron Cross

9 March 1945: Goebbels awards a 16-year-old Hitler Youth, Willi Hübner, the Iron Cross for the defence of Lauban. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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German student Kurt Gruber created the Hitler Youth in 1926. At first it looked like a club of boy scouts. Children between the ages of 10 to 18 years who loved Nazism, carry out a lot of physical activity, lead a life in the open air and in the future receive military training.

At the beginning there were 1,000 boys. In 1927 there were 12,000. By 1930 they numbered 25,000, and on the night of October 1, 1932, the first assembly of the Hitler Youth was held at the Potsdam Stadium, where Adolf Hitler spoke. The following day there was a youth parade that lasted seven and a half hours.

When Hitler came to power in 1933 the members of the Hitler Youth reached 107,956. It was still low a number. A year later their numbers exceeded 2,300,000, and their ranks kept growing even further. On December 1, 1936, the Reich government enacted a law according to which all German youth within the confines of the Reich were included in the Hitler Youth. Young people, in addition to the education they received at home with their parents and at school, would be educated there "both physically, intellectually and morally."

By 1938 there were already 7,000,000 members, and in 1940, the Hitler Youth counted 8,000,000 children and young adults. A fundamental moment for them occurred every Wednesday at 20.15. The members of the Hitler Youth (even the youngest ones, 10 years old) had to listen to the radio broadcast of the "Youth Nation Hour," which was broadcasted with religious punctuality by all German broadcasting stations simultaneously.

Fast forward in time. The year was 1945 and the war was lost for Nazi Germany. The Russians were in the vicinity of Berlin and the end could be tasted in the air along with the smell of gunpowder, death and resignation.

In 1944, Hitler was counting on an elite group: "the Werwolf." A secret group formed by the combat section of the Waffen-SS. They had only one mission: to resist the advance of the Allied forces at all cost. Their training was based on guerrilla tactics. But the fearsome Waffen-SS, in 1945, were almost exterminated and for that reason Hitler gave the order that children who at most reached 14 years, would become soldiers of the Werwolf.

There is an image that can't be unseen; Hitler coming out of his bunker, a day before his suicide. The cold hit hard in Berlin. The Nazi hierarchy fell apart and a small troop formed. The small troop was not metaphorical. They were children in a row, some shivering. Others, in their firm position, could not prevent the water from running down slowly through the nostrils, denoting an uncured cold.

Hitler, somewhat trembling, greeted them, already far away from those energetic and threatening postures. It seemed like a grandfather saying goodbye. He knew his end was near and macabrely, he also knew the end was near for those children who were not with their parents.

The children were left fighting in the streets of Berlin.

"The name of the Werwolf came from a novel by Hermann Löns set in the Thirty Years' War. This writer, who died in 1914, was an ultra nationalist transformed into an icon by the Nazis," British historian Antony Beevor, tells in his book, 'Berlin. The Downfall: 1945.'

The Werwolf group was created by Heinrich Himmler in the autumn of 1944 after accepting the idea launched by Martin Bormann and approved by Adolf Hitler. Next to Himmler was Joseph Göebbels, who in March 1945 organized a radio station and a newspaper and called both Werwolf.

The station began broadcasting on May 1, 1944. Göebbels created a style for the Werwolf radio broadcasts, similar to that of the newspaper Der Angriff. Defending nazism at any cost, regardless of anything or anyone. And he coined his phrase: "He who is not with us, is against us!"

The young people of the Werwolf were under the command of the lieutenant general of the SS, Hans Prützmann. Commanding him was the leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler.

Prützmann, after studying the guerrilla tactics of the Soviet Army in Ukraine, incorporated them in his group. They specialized in sniper attacks, fires, sabotage and assassinations. The techniques used included killing the enemy sentinels by hanging them with a one-meter rope with a slipknot.

The commandos consisted of groups of three to six men and women. The Werwolf organized "Operation Carnival," which targeted Franz Oppenhoff, a Catholic lawyer whom the Allies placed as mayor of Aachen and who was the most respected anti-Nazi politician in the country. Two young members of the Werwolf, Josef Leitgeb and Herbert Wenzel, infiltrated territory occupied by US troops, arrived at Oppenhoff's house and introduced themselves as aviators who had fallen behind the enemy lines. As the mayor listened to them, Leitgeb shot him in the head.


The group would commit other resounding crimes, such as the killing of Major John Poston (liaison officer of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery), General Nikolai Berzarin (Soviet commander in Berlin) and General Maurice Rose, the oldest Jewish officer in the US Army.

A year later, the Werwolfs were almost gone. On March 23, 1945, with the end imminent, Göebbels delivered a speech known as "The Werwolf speech," in which he harangued every German to fight to the death.

"All means are right to harm the enemy. Our cities in the West, destroyed by cruel aerial terrorism, women and hungry children all along the Rhine, have taught us to hate the enemy, the blood and tears of our murdered men, our raped women and our children massacred In the territories occupied in the East, they demand revenge.The Werwolf movement declares in this proclamation its firm and resolute decision, indifferent to a possible death and taking revenge for every outrage that the enemy commits against a member of our people, killing him. Every Bolshevik, every Englishman and every American will be our movement's targets, where we have the possibility of ending their lives, we will with pleasure and without concern of ours. Every German, in the position in which he finds himself, who offers to cooperate with the enemy, will feel our revenge. Hate is our prayer. Revenge is our war cry."

It was no longer aimed at specially trained commandos. The Werwolf was now a group of creatures not exceeding five feet, and who understood the word death, not when they saw the Russian and allied troops in front of them, but when each of them received a cyanide pill.

The defeat did not fit in the Nazi dictionary. In their stolen innocence they counted on another punishment: the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS refused to deliver ammunition and equipment to "youth units" of dubious practical value. They had to create rustic bombs with cans of oxtail soup made by Heinz.

Adolf Hitler greeted the Werwolf group outside his bunker. The lapels of his coat were up to face the cold. The shots were heard not far away. The Russians were no longer kilometers, but only hundreds of meters away.

In front of their Führer, the children trembled. They did not know themselves if they trembled because of the cold or fear. When Hitler retired to the heart of his bunker and began to think what time would be best to kill himself with Eva Braun, the children were ordered to return to the streets. To fight. Not imaginary dragons, but tanks. For them there was no place even for dreams.

The end of the Werwolf was inevitable. Some children were able to defect, others were massacred by French and Soviet troops who did not care about the age of their enemies.

Some claim that groups of children continued to fight against the occupation from their last refuges in the Black Forest and the Harz Mountains until 1947 and even until 1950.

They no longer sang the hymn of the Hitler Youth that they had learned in the camps since they were 10 years old: "As our banner flies, it symbols the new era!"

Some were massacred, others deserted. One group kept fighting, and who knows how many opened the first button of their shirt, feeling the thread that they had around their neck, opened the metal vial that hung from it, taking the tablet that was stored there hesitantly and swallowed it.

They would not have nightmares anymore. They would not see before their eyes those dragons that were advancing through the streets of Berlin spitting fire. They would no longer stop the fluids running from their noses from the badly cured cold. They would no longer tremble because of the cold, hunger and fear. They would no longer contain the tears of sadness. They could already dream of their mother, their house, their lost toys.

They were never werewolves, only children who learned to die young...

Sources: ABC, Wordpress, Clarin.

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