Like all German boys who were not Jewish or Gypsy, the Ten-year-old was drafted into the Nazi youth organization called Jungvolk.


 back N-and-R.html

Selected by his teachers and leaders at Jungvolk, the slender little Berliner was ordered to join the Adolf Hitler School at the Ordensburg Sonthofen in Bavaria. His parents, avid admirers of the Führer, considered this a great honor.

1941:  FATE

In search of one of the leading boys for his film Junge Adler (Young Eagles), director Alfred Weidenmann found a little funny guy in the most unlikely of all places: behind the grey walls of Hitler’s elite school. Weidenmann obtained marching orders, and the boy found himself on a train for Berlin, unaware of the fact that life had placed a man waiting at the UfA film studios for him, a man, who would make the fifteen-year-old grow up fast. His name was Hans Söhnker, an actor of great fame. He took a liking to the boy. In the course of the time to come, the two became friends for life.

Söhnker was a German of character and conviction. Like the Roman deity Janus, he was a man of two faces. The face of the film star was capable of an illuminating smile while shaking Hitler’s hand during any of the Reichskanzler's command performances, whereas the face of the man was hard, troubled at times, often scared, for he gave shelter to any Jewish person he found on the run, was hiding him… or her… in his country home, until a few friends, Anti-Nazis all of them, had found a safe escape route for the unfortunate into Switzerland.

The time of growing friendship between a man and a boy was a time of growing trust. Surrounded by fanatic Nazis, informants, bombs, death and fear, a courageous actor decided it was time for the misled youth to face the truth. "Your Hitler,” he said, “your demigod, that bloody Austrian, is a criminal!"  Walking him through the woods, ways away from untrusted people, or cramped into the film star’s makeshift air raid shelter, the man who hated Hitler spoke to the boy of Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and a war already lost. With great patience, warmth of thought, mixed in with a strong dose of humor, he helped his young friend to overcome his breathlessness, his disbelief, his shock, his pain. When, a long time later, he saw that the boy had shaken off all the devilish wrong teachings of his past, Söhnker asked him to become his go-between, taking messages to a woman with a rowboat at Lake Constance, the crossing point for fugitives to Switzerland.

The boy from Sonthofen was shown his way into the underground.

This daring life came to an end when the filming of Young Eagles was completed. Söhnker’s young friend was ordered to return to Hitler’s school in Bavaria. The boy was heartbroken. Söhnker said “There is no alternative. If you stay here with us in the world of film, Goebbels and his henchmen will look at you and me and our little group with a magnifying glass. Thererfore: Courage Monsieur! And Courage is what you have to muster. Because… what is waiting for you is a double life behind the grey walls of the Ordensburg." He laughed a bitter laugh. "Therefore, young man: Try not to talk in your sleep."


NIGHTMARE AND REMEMBRANCEN-and-R.htmlN-and-R.htmlN-and-R.htmlN-and-R.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1shapeimage_5_link_2