Veteran Stories:
Horst Bolik

Army

  • A boy from the Hitler Youth in front of an 88mm anti-aircraft gun. Mr. Bolik was conscripted in the Fall of 1944 at the age of 10 to serve on anti-aircraft guns against Allied bombers.

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"We did down a few planes and, yes, there was jubilation when we hit somebody but, you know, it was a plane; it was something not human that we were shooting at."

Transcript

[Joining the Hitler Youth]

I joined the Hitler Youth [also known as the HitlerJugend, a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party] by the age of eight because I had all the paraphernalia and what I had was a drum, and of course, those were instruments, musical instruments that were not easy to get during the war. So they wanted a drum and I said, ‘The drum and me, or no drum’, so that was it.

December 1944 we got a visit from one of the SS people in the area looking for volunteers for the anti-aircraft [artillery] so our class, which was about 12 if I recall that right, of course all stood up as one. I was the youngest; the oldest in the class was 15 and when I volunteered with the rest of my class it was to defend our home country. I mean, you know that is, I believe, the duty of every citizen to his own country rally to the defence. Like Kennedy [John F. Kennedy, former President of the United States] used to say, ‘Don’t ask what the country can do for you, ask what can I do for the country’.

[Serving with the German anti-aircraft artillery]

I was a gun runner and so from the depot to the emplacement, you know, you grab a shell and run across the opening there and hopefully you won’t get hit or whatever; once you get relieved of that you run back. We did down a few planes and, yes, there was jubilation when we hit somebody but, you know, it was a plane; it was something not human that we were shooting at.

Mr. Churchill [Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during the war years] was the bad guy. When the industry is down and when a lot of time and material is being used to reconstruct it takes away from the war effort. Also, it demoralised, it didn’t demoralise the civic population, it demoralised the soldiers that came home on leave.

[The end of the war]

We were completely out of ammunition, we weren’t quite sure anymore what to do, and lo and behold there was a caravan of our armoured vehicles coming close to us. Now, the turret of the second - I think it was the second armoured vehicle - opened up and somebody stuck his head out, looked around, and then I can still hear that as if it was yesterday, ‘They’re only kids; they’re just kids’. So all the other openings in the armoured vehicles opened up and soldiers that jumped out. I had a little bit of school English by that time and later on I asked where the guys were from and they said, ‘Canada’. And well, that was about it. That’s the major thing; I feel that foes can become friends, and hopefully friends will never become foes.

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