Breaking

Hans-Georg Henke - 16 year old German soldier crying after being captured by the Allies, 1945


Hans-Georg Henke, a sixteen-year-old German anti-aircraft soldier of the Hitler Youth, is taken prisoner in the German state of Hessen. He was a member of the anti-aircraft squad of the Luftwaffe, who burst into tears as the world scattered around him.

His father died in 1938, but when his mother died in 1944, leaving the family destitute, Hans-Georg had to find work to support the family. At the age of 15, he joined the Luftwaffe.

According to the story Henke maintained throughout his life, he was based in Stettin with a battery of 88 mm guns. As the Soviets advanced, the German army was pushed back towards Rostock. It was here that the Soviets finally captured their unit, that these photographs were taken.

The alternate story is given by American photojournalist John Floria. He alleges that he took these photographs in Hessen, in the village of Hüttenberg-Rechtenbach, which is just north of Frankfurt am Main.

The area where Hans-Georg's photographs were taken is unquestionably Hessen. Many of the photographs taken clearly show the areas of the city that still exist today. Furthermore, as indicated by these photographs, he was wearing shoes when caught, as was later alleged, not with rags on his feet.

John Floria is adamant that Hans-Georges is crying not because his world was torn apart, but because of the shock of war after being captured by American forces. Henke's sole motive to set this issue aside must be related to the fact that after the war he chose to join the Communist Party and remain in East Germany.

The East German communists regarded all who had surrendered to the Americans as a possible third force. To cover his tracks, Henke changed the story from being captured by the Americans to the Russians. He lived a full life and died in 1997.




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