NEVER forget the child soldiers. Facts & sad images of their fight…

Child soldier. Some words don’t belong together.

It’s bad enough that children’s lives are torn apart by wars they didn’t start. But when they’re forced into fighting in the conflict themselves, it causes psychological and physical damage that can often never be repaired.

Every child has the right to go to school and to live free from violence. Using kids as soldiers constitutes one of the most horrendous breaches of those rights and it is simply and unequivocally wrong. James Bjorkman tell us more in his article from his

In more ways than one, World War II was the war of the children. They started out cheering, and wound up dying.

Two young German soldiers armed with Panzerfausts (anti-tank weapons) and Mauser rifles, march along Bankowa street in Lubań (Lauban), Lower Silesia. There was fierce fighting there and it was the site of pretty much the last successful German operation of the war. They suffered along with adults during bombings and attack, but they also did some attacking and defending of their own.

Unknown young German anti-aircraft gunner ‘flakhelfer’ on position with devyatikilogrammovym projectile antiaircraft gun 8.8 cm FlaK 18/41 in the German city of Hagen (Hagen). Countless American bombers were shot down by boys like this. These brave boys were out there in the open while the bombs were dropping.

Children were actively recruited for various defense purposes throughout the war, not just at the very end. It was the norm for schoolchildren to wind up working alongside their schoolmasters, with the war serving as a king of extracurricular learning experience.

A soldier of the 94th Infantry Division searching two young anti-aircraft gunners who surrendered in Frankenthal, 23 March 1945

At that age, it is difficult to question those who are older and who stand as the leaders of your people. Without the experience to make your own assessments as to the validity of a cause or to challenge authority, the tendency is to follow it blindly and whole-heartedly. This tendency to conform to what is asked of you, regardless of deeper issues such as morality, survivability or long-term sustainability, is enhanced by the respect given by all to senior soldiers with shiny medals and lots of gold braid; there is nothing a schoolchild wants more than earned respect. Added to that is the very real understanding that by, for instance, manning a Flak gun, you were defending not only your homeland, but the lives of everyone you loved. Thus, the youngest soldiers were often the most fanatical, and also the ones who were most determined not to give up. The smart German boys, of course, recognized the self-abnegation resulting from their becoming cannon fodder for people who did not have their best interests at heart, and realized that they were only safe after they had surrendered. Still, it took an extreme act of will to ‘give up’ and admit defeat, when such took away all the potential prestige and pathways to success amongst their peers that had been laid out for them by everyone they knew.

German WW2 . Says : ” Youth ( Join ) in Air defense. ” Children manned many anti-aircraft batteries in the major cities, and usually were not asked to do so – they were told to do it as part of their normal routine.
Child soldiers also carried guns and fought. They were actively recruited by some combatants. The Germans were the most active in recruiting children for their Hitler Youth active combat formations such as the 12th SS Hitlerjugend Division. Since most schoolchildren were already manning anti-aircraft guns or performing civil defense duties, it was not quite as much of a leap in Germany as it would have been for children elsewhere.

Children, of course, didn’t know any better and were not ready to make adult choices. While from our perspective they fought for the enemy, it’s possible for many to feel sympathy for them. The peer pressure on them and their lack of perspective doomed them to joining up and dying for nothing. It was heinous of their elders to think that was appropriate for boys of 10, 11, 12 years of age to carry a gun or man a tank. A huge fraction of them wound up dying or being maimed for life.


This lad, Hans-Georg Henke, thought he had lost everything because he knew of nothing else

Many know of the famous Hitler Youth, led by Baldur von Schirach, and their SS Division. The 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitler Jugend” Hitler Youth Division saved the entire Western Front for Hitler and Rundstedt in August 1944 after the US breakout from Avranches. They prevented the British and Canadians from closing the northern escape route for the German armies fleeing from out of the Mortain pocket, preserving the so-called Falaise gap despite ferocious Commonwealth efforts to close it. Without their efforts, the German defense of the West would have entirely collapsed in 1944. Only a very small fraction of the boys survived, and those that did kept fighting for the remainder of the conflict. Hitler Youth were some of the last defenders of Berlin. Yes, they were fanatics, because they didn’t know any better.

He hadn’t. Hans-Georg Henke – 16 Year Old German soldier crying – now
However, focusing just on the Hitler Youth is misleading. There were children serving on both sides of the conflict, in all armies.

Wounded son of the regiment. Wounded Russian, child soldier, is patched up by a child medic in the field. Among other things, notice how casually the submachine gun is placed (for propaganda purposes of course) and how the nurse doesn’t seem to mind it pointing at her. Try to imagine that happening now.
The Chinese had many boys holding rifles, while the Soviets enlisted them as partisans and spies. Some underage kids snuck into the US and British armed forces.

No, these are not actual soldiers, and this is not comparable to kids carrying actual guns and shooting and being shot. However, indoctrination begins early, and kids are very impressionable. Original caption: ‘New York, New York: Soldiers In Miniature. Decked out in military uniforms featured at the 40th annual Toy Fair, Salvatore Beniti, left, and Craig Smith, both stand at attention before a picture of their hero, General Douglas MacArthur.’ Toys, dolls, play uniforms and picture books took the military forces as their theme, with virtually every bit of war equipment duplicated in miniature.
The US and British Army and Navy recruiters weren’t being too choosy under the circumstances, with the enlistment personnel not checking too closely for absolute age compliance during the darkest days after Pearl Harbour. While some later proudly proclaimed that they had enlisted at age 17, that was not supposed to happen. Boys also manned anti-aircraft and civil defense positions in Great Britain and Germany, downing bombers and fighting fires.

It is incorrect to state that support for using children as soldiers was monolithic or even tolerated by everyone in the German high command, no matter how stringent the exigencies of war. However, they fought anyway. During the Battle of Berlin, for instance, German Nazi national leader (Reichsjugendführer) of the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) Artur Axmann’s forces formed a major part of the last line of German defense. As in Normandy, the children were reportedly among the fiercest fighters.

Young Soviet soldier.
The Berlin city commander, General Helmuth Weidling, ordered Axmann to disband the Hitler Youth combat formations; unfortunately, in the confusion, this order was never carried out. The remnants of the youth brigade took heavy casualties from the advancing Russian forces: only two survived. Axmann? He died of old age in Berlin in 1996.

Hitler Youth being awarded medals, 1943. That’s a touch more realistic than the usual propaganda shots.

Children can fight and die when their elders choose to let them. Those that did should be remembered. They were just kids.

11-year-old “soldier” killed during the Warsaw uprising 1944. Really, what can you say.

1944 – Ten-year-old German boy soldier poses with his Major after their capture in Antwerp, Belgium. Hundreds of other prisoners taken with them march past in background. Since Antwerp was in Allied hands by October 1944, this is proof that child soldiers were serving well before the Reich’s last days.

German youth in uniform surrender to Allied troops in Snamont, Belgium. New Years, 1945. They knew nothing but Naziism and no doubt felt it could never end.


A 12-year old Hitler Youth leader receives the Iron Cross, Second Class for combat performance, March 1945. The Iron Cross meant he did… something.

The Last of the last in defense of Hitler and the Third Reich. Child “soldiers” caught during the Battle of Berlin, April-May 1945. Most of them were ordered to ditch the uniform and go home. Behind them appears to be a column of their elders headed toward a processing center, these boys must have been pulled out.

Teenage German soldier, who served with the Hitlerjugend division, is taken prisoner by US troops near Forbach (Alsace), March 1945.

13-year old Hitler Youth captured by the Allies near Nartinzell, 1945

Three 14 year-old German prisoners of war eating rations in front of a group of other POWs, 29 March 1945. The boys were captured by 6th Armoured Division, Third US Army, near Frankfurt-am-Main.

13-year-old Soviet Partisan. Nice uniform – too nice. Obvious propaganda shot.

World War II – Prisoners of war – 42-35302875 – Rights Managed – Stock Photo – Corbis. Adolescent German prisoners of war – almost children – in an American prison camp shortly after the end of World War II.

A Japanese soldier-to-be. They indoctrinated them early. Kids love to play war.

A Son of the Regiment wearing Red Star. These sort of mascots fought and died.

Boy Red Army soldier serving with front line unit, 1942. The presence of children as young as 12 in Soviet army units was routine. They all received the same weapons and kit as adult soldiers, slightly adjusted for size. This boy is carrying the standard issue PpsH SMG and anti-personnel grenades. His war-fighting abilities remain a mystery, but an artillery shell or bomb will kill him just as surely as the others.

A wounded German Hitler Youth. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

Young scout reports to the commander of the partisan detachment G.V. Gvozdev about the location of the Germans. Undoubtedly a propaganda shot, but accurate.

Propaganda photos make espionage by children look glamorous. Sometimes, it isn’t. Here, a firing squad of the US. Ninth Army executes 16 year old Heinz Petry of Hitler Jugend for espionage, Germany,1945

A boy soldier in China during the 1930s

Boy soldiers captured at Kronach, Germany by 11th Armoured Division April 25, 1944

Captured German soldier boy, happy to be out of it

Child soldier in China ca. 1942

Ten-year-old Chinese child-soldier in Burma 1944

15-year-old French Legion boy soldier 1945, Kronach

A partisan takes a trophy STG44 rifle from a dead SS Panzergrenadier. Kids could be the utterly deadliest opponents of all. The STG44 was the newest and deadliest automatic weapon of the war and highly prized, so they took this shot for the memories.

Teenagers captured east of the Rhine 1945

Children from the Hitler Youth serving in the German Army at the last stages of WW2. As Germany suffered more casualties, more teens volunteered and were accepted, initially as reserve troops but then as regulars. The German ethic of the boy soldier not only encouraged such service but the Germans even drafted boys as young as 12 into military service. They saw extensive action and were among the fiercest and effective German defenders in Normandy and the Battle of Berlin

The kid appears to be receiving a medal.

A propaganda photo that went disastrously wrong, it appears to be a partisan unit.

If any one of them survived and could time-travel back to that moment, they’d likely have whipped out their pistol and shot him dead.

A young German soldier from the SS-Panzerdivision ‘Hitlerjugend’. Caen, Normandy, June 1944. The unit was decimated, but they held their position and saved their mates, holding open an escape route for 10 German panzer divisions. This one has “the look” – his eyes show that he knows his time is near. And it probably was. All that equipment, incidentally, is quite heavy. German soldier with MG42 machine gun, Caen, France, Jun 1944 Photographer Wilfried Woscidlo Source German Federal Archive

Lest anyone think that these pictures are heroic and the lads are enjoying every moment of their glory, here is one last photo that shows the reality – not the false hype and glamour – of war for children.

This was taken from a movie, it’s a little too … real


Miembro del Staff
Shandor, por favor que el contenido sea en español, o en todo caso seguida con la traduccion.