“An extraordinary account of a young boy caught up in the middle of a war . . . frank and even funny at times . . . utterly absorbing” (Books Monthly).
This is the wartime memoir of a boy named Will, who happened to be the nephew of the head of Nazi Germany’s intelligence agency. The author, only ten years old when the war began, became a helper at the local Luftwaffe flak battery, fetching ammunition. It was exciting work for Will, a member of the “Jungvolk,” and by the end of the war, he had become expert at judging attacks. As fighter raids increased in frequency, he noted that the pilots became less skilled.
Gehlen’s town was repeatedly bombed, and he often had to help with the wreckage or to pull survivors from basements. He witnessed more death than a child ever should; nevertheless, his flak battery continued firing until US tanks were almost on top of the position.
In this book, Gehlen provides an intimate glimpse of the chaos, horror, and black humor of life just behind the front lines. As seen through the eyes of a child who was expert in aircraft identification and bomb weights, food-rationing and tank types, one encounters a view of life inside Hitler’s wartime Reich that is both fascinating and rare.
“Although the memories Gehlen shares are narrow, and offer little insight into the Reich itself, they’re remarkable for the child’s perspective they bring to bear on a warring country’s ferocious struggle.” —Publishers Weekly
“A real gem, a quiet tour de force . . . Despite its serious subject matter the book reads as an adventure story from start to finish.” —Military Modelling