Sunday 28 December 2014

The Heimwehr and the Home Guard

These two organisations are similar. They are made up of man too young or too old to join the main war effort or who are working in reserved occupations and who give some of their free time on a voluntary basis. They help to protect civilians. 
There are a few men in all three strands of the novel who take on this sort of work.  
However, in Germany it took a more sinister turn in 1944 and the Volkssturm, the people’s army, was created. This was a vicious force of former Heimwehr members, Hitler Youth and even BDM members. They were to do everything possible to protect the Fatherland.  It was a last ditch attempt by the German government. The Germans were beginning to lose the war. Also there was much fear that they would be badly treated by the liberators so this civilian population was encouraged to fight hard to the end. At least the patriotic German teen boys in our novel have the sense to capitulate early to the professional American soldiers. Not all did, and some lost their lives in a particularly gruesome way. 
The Volkssturm became a highly organised paramilitary organisation though was made up of mainly the Hitler Youth, men invalided out of the army and those who have been declared unfit for active service.  

Food for thought: 

Why do you think so many teen boys were willing to take on the Allies when they moved into Germany?
How might their training with the Hitler Youth have helped these young people?
The Heimwehr is similar to our own Home Guard. However, there are differences. Can you think what they might be?       

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