This is the wartime memoir of a young boy named Will, who happened to be the nephew of Reinhard Gehlen, the head of Nazi Germany's intelligence agency, Foreign Armies East. After reading this book, however, the reader will wonder who had the most eventful time in World War II, the famous intelligence chief or his little nephew in a small town near the Westwall.Will Gehlen's father, a trolley driver, was drafted into the Wehrmacht to man a Sturmgeschutz assault gun in Russia. His older brother, Len, was enlisted in the Hitlerjugend. The author, only 10 years old when the war began, became a helper at the local Luftwaffe flak battery, fetching ammunition for a quad 40mm gun, while a nearby 88mm battery pounded away. The 88s targeted Allied bombers, with no shortage of success, while the smaller gun fended off fighters trying to destroy the AAA emplacement. It was exciting work for young Will (officially 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, at one point four Thunderbolts flying in a string, one after another, allowing the quad 40 to easily line up its sights.Aside from aircraft kills, Will Gehlen had other adventures during the war, as when his mother dragged him along to visit his aunt in Luxembourg in late autumn 1944. Crossing the lines they didn't find the aunt but met American troops, and became caught up in the fight when the German Army launched a huge offensive, overrunning the village and forcing the US soldiers to retreat with casualties. Mother and son making their way back to Germany was even more perilous, until they discovered that the most secure vehicles in the Reich were mail trucks. No one, not even the SS, tried to interfere with their progress.Gehlen's town was repeatedly battered by bombers and he often had to help with the wreckage or to pull survivors from basements. He witnessed more death than a child should ever see; nevertheless, his flak battery continued firing until US tanks were almost on top of the position. In this book Gehlen, looking back on his unique childhood, provides an intimate glimpse of the chaos, horror and, strangely enough, black humour of life just behind the front lines of Germany in World War II. As seen through the eyes of a child who never knew normality, but 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.

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