Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fortress Königsberg Volkssturm

On 1 February 1945, two days before the ultimatum to join the Volkssturm expired, Werner Terpitz fell into the hands of the SS. They discovered him in a queue outside a food shop:
... where I had gone in a pause in the shelling to buy food for my parents and grandparents. They hauled me out the queue, read through my papers, threatened me and told me not to wait until 3 February but to register with the Waffen-SS the following day.

This he did, signing up with a hundred other sixteen-year-olds all of whom:
... were united in our thoughts that we did not want to be in the Waffen-SS and no one wanted to be in the Volkssturm. We saw the SS as ideological and backward looking and the other no one took seriously.

They were given the uniforms of police cadets in an unusual green colour which 'fitted we thin-chested youths'. They were assigned to work with a Panzer division, although none of them knew who the Panzer troops were or what they did, and they were sent out to the suburb of Liep which was just five kilometres away from the Russian front line to do their training.

A few weeks earlier Guy Sajer, his battalion recalled to the defence of the Eastern Front, had come across a new Volkssturm unit like the one Werner Terpitz had joined:
Now we were looking literally at children. Marching beside feeble old men. The oldest boys were about sixteen but there were others who could not have been more than thirteen. They had been hastily dressed in worn uniforms cut for men, and they were carrying guns, which were often as big as they were. They looked both comic and horrifying and their eyes were filled with unease, like the eyes of children at the reopening of school. Not one of them could have imagined the impossible ordeal that lay ahead.

Sajer and his battalion 'stood in profound silence, watching and listening to the final moments of this first adolescence. There was nothing else we could do.

Ernst Tiburzy (26 December 1911 – 14 November 2004) was a German Volkssturm-Bataillonsführer who received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his performance fighting alone and the destruction of five or nine T-34s with Panzerfausts during the defense of Königsberg on February 10, 1945. He is one of only four Volkssturm members to have been awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He was mentioned in the addendum of the Wehrmachtbericht on 3 February 1945.

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