Luftwaffenhelfer

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Luftwaffenhelfer (commonly: Flakhelfer) are terms commonly used for German students deployed as child soldiers during World War II.

The Luftwaffenhelfer ("Luftwaffe assistant") program was the implementation of the "Kriegshilfseinsatz der Jugend bei der Luftwaffe" ("war auxiliary deployment of youth into the Luftwaffe") order issued on January 22, 1943.The order called for drafting whole school classes with male students born in 1926 and 1927 into a military corps, supervised by Hitler Youth and Luftwaffe personnel. The draft was later extended to include the 1928 and 1929 births.Deployment included ideological indoctrination by the Hitler Youth, military duties and limited continuation of the normal school curriculum, often by the original teachers.

While the official term was "Luftwaffenhelfer (HJ)", the term more commonly used is "Flakhelfer" ("Flak-assistant"). The 1926-1929 births are commonly referred to as the "Flakhelfer-Generation". In German ears the phrase associates with the collective and incisive experience of being torn out of conventional adolescent life (though under circumstances of total war) and being thrown into strict military service and extreme peril, when in the final phase of the war, the AA-batteries themselves became preferred targets of allied strafers.

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