Leopold Wenger

Leopold Wenger's letters from flight training in Ochatz and Pilsen: 1939-40

Published by carolyn on Sun, 2013-10-06 07:50

'Bibi' Wenger enters the Luftwaffe flight service training and drops the Bibi to become 'Poldi from now on.


copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager
Translated from the German by David Coyle

Oschatz, November 18th and 26th 1939: On Wednesday November 15th I set out from Berlin and was at the airport by noon. I’ve swapped Pomerania for Saxony as my new residence. Our accommodations are set in the woods, very nicely surrounded by the pines. We are five to a room, an agreeable number, and we have parquet flooring. None of us recruits is older than twenty-one.

Gilbert Geisendorfer learned of his success in his school finals at the very last moment in an inspection. At first it seemed his schooling was done, but that turned out to be deceptive for there is always more to learn, although of different sorts of things. During this time all the other soldiers and I have learnt a great deal in new areas. Naturally no one is flying yet. I’m doing well for cash: we’re on wartime pay like all soldiers and get 1 RM per day.

Leopold Wenger's Childhood

Published by carolyn on Thu, 2013-09-19 05:40

Childhood

By Willy Wenger

copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Leopold Wenger's final letters from Napola-Köslin, July-November 1939

Published by carolyn on Wed, 2013-09-04 12:04

On Sept. 26, 1939, Leopold's group of soon-to-be-graduates pose with their educator Ltn. Geissler who, like others, had been drafted for military service. Younger educators arrived to take their place. Leopold is 2nd from the left in the second row.


These letters from July to November 1939 are the last ones written from the NPEA (Napola) school in Köslin,  Pomerania (Northeast Germany). The young men's schooling ended a bit early; if their grades and demeanor warranted, they were granted what Americans would call the High School diploma and were inducted into the Luftwaffe as officer volunteers in training (cadets). They still had to complete the A, B and C flight training in order to earn their basic pilot's license.

copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Translated from the German by Markus

July 1939:  Yesterday, we had theoretical lessons followed by a test. I passed my theoretical A-exam. Because we will probably go back to Köslin tomorrow [from flight training in Rossiten -cy], we have our goodbye evening today with the other flight students and flight instructors. We will probably receive our A-certificate and badges.

I'll answer dad's question now. Gilbert and I were in Köslin for the military physical. We were checked for aviator suitability before, but everyone has to go through the aptitude test and is then assigned to an armed service branch (Air Service, Flak, Weather Company, Aviation Spotter, Av. Intelligence, Av. Sciences, Av. Engineer, etc.) In the end, everyone arrives at the branch of the Luftwaffe for which he best qualifies.

Motorsports school in Dramburg, July 15-31, 1939.


All of the 120 young men of the Aviator group of a hundred were divided into subgroups. Some stayed in Köslin (including Gilbert), others went to Hornberg in Swabia, others to Dramburg (Motorsports-School), others to Neumühlenkamp in Pomerania, and we went to Rositten [home of the "Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS) -, the German Research Society for Gliding. We are 23 young men. I'm one of them and the only Southern-German. Most already had passed the A-exam and continued right away with the B.

More Leopold Wenger letters from Napola-Köslin, May-June 1939

Published by carolyn on Tue, 2013-08-13 13:00

 Leopold (Bibi) Wenger on left, his home-town best friend Gilbert Geisendorfer on right, taking in the sun on the Köslin campus.


copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Translated from the German by Markus (Letter of May 6-18)
and Hadding Scott (Letters of May 27 to June 29)

 Letter of May 6-May 18, 1939: I will now answer your questions: My birth certificate is in the middle drawer of my desk, in the back. You have hopefully by now received the disclaimer and sent it back.

I was not asked any questions at the exam in Potsdam; it was like regular school and whoever participated regularly was rewarded. The emphasis was on swimming, diving, platform diving, broad jump, 100m sprint, 3km walk, shot put, gymnastics, horse jumping and floor exercises. I was totally numb afterward, and whoever could not handle it was dismissed.

For other assignments, I had to write a letter to my English friend re. Bohemia and Moravia; for math and physics we had to calculate the speed of flight and fall and also describe the car and diesel engine. Plus a written test in Latin, [and] a dictation in English.

I was asked to list some Austrian poets in German. I said Rosegger, Klöpfer, Springenschmied, Itzinger - the educator didn't know them; whereupon I was like, what? You don't know these men of whom some were in possession of the German literature prize? After that, I finished my exams.

Leopold Wenger's first letters from Napola Köslin, April-May 1939

Published by carolyn on Tue, 2013-06-25 12:13

Leopold Wenger (right) and Gilbert Geisendorfer in their Hitlerjugend uniforms at the train station in Leoben embarking on a new adventure.


 

Background: Leopold Wenger and his best friend Gilbert Geisendorfer read in a newspaper that there were openings for young men in the National Political Educaton Institute at Köslin in Pomerania. They talked about it and decided to apply. Together, they reasoned that if they did not pass the entrance exam the world would not end and they would have seen Berlin, the capitol city of the Reich.

They traveled by train from Leoben to Berlin-Potsdam, where the evaluation and testing took place. Both did pass and were then transported from Potsdam to their new school at Köslin. Leopold was 18 years old at this time. In the following letters to his family, he describes his first month in this new and different environment. More of his letters, up until November 1939, will be posted here as they are translated.

copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Translated from the German by Wilfried Heink

Letter of April 20, 1939: Based on my excellent performance in science and sports, I was admitted to NAPOLA (National political education program) in Köslin. Only 230 of the 800 applicants were admitted for testing; 60 youngmen (jungmännen) were selected for grades 7 and 8 and, because of my test results, I was accepted into grade 8 even though I had never completed grade 7.

The tests were not what I had expected. They were regular classroom lessons and each one of us was evaluated based on performance. High-ranking SS officers were present, as well as a General of the Luftwaffe. Medical examinations were performed three times: a general assessment; fitness for flying (a turnstile and a catapult); and suitability for the SS (racial).

I travelled to Berlin a few times and was able to visit the Garrison church in Potsdam, the grave of Frederic the Great as well as the castle Sanssouci. On the 18th we drove to Berlin via the Avus, then on the Autobahn to Stettin [close to the Baltic Sea], and to Küstrin, and our new home.

Die Anstalt (the campus at Köslin)


Bicycle Adventures of an Austrian Teen - Part Two

Published by carolyn on Tue, 2013-05-21 20:13

From Leopold Wenger's Trip Diary

The Great Ride to Nuremberg
for the N-S Party Convention of 1937

copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Translated from the German by Wilfried Heink

Day one - passing the Dachstein mountains on the way to Schladming.


Sunday, August 29, 1937. My buddy Franz and I left Leoben at 6am. When passing the train station I suddenly discovered that I had left my canteen, full of tea, at home. I had no choice but to turn back.

We then continued. It was still cold, and also foggy; our clothes were soon damp. But the fog lifted and at Mauten we stopped for breakfast. Then a headwind picked up, making travel up the Schober Pass difficult. At the top we stopped at a farm to drink some milk; Franz encountered a little mishap but at 11:30 we arrived in Trieben. We did not stop, passed the Wörschach airport and at noon we were already passed Steinach. We rode through an open forest; later in open country with the sun beating down and stopped at an Inn in Diemlern for lunch. The ride from then on was boring, up to Gröbming when I noticed that the houses were different, almost flat roofs with boulders on them. We had climbed quite a ways up and now traveled downhill, the road condition changing. Passing Haus, we had our first glimpse of the Dachstein, with the peak hidden in clouds. At 4pm we arrived in Schladming; the town was celebrating the completion of a new church tower and we had problems getting through the crowds. Uphill from there, and at 4:30 we passed the border between Styria and Salzburg. We already had the Mandling pass behind us.

In half an hour we made it to Radstatt, having to push our bikes up a hill along the way. We looked for the hostel, found it outside the town and registered at 5:30. The pool was a welcome addition and in the evening a youth from Vienna joined us.

Bicycle Adventures of an Austrian Teen

Published by carolyn on Wed, 2013-05-15 16:32

From Leopold Wenger's Trip Diary

Out and About on the Bicycle

1936-1937

copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Translated from the German by Wilfried Heink

Leopold Wenger was born on Nov. 19, 1921; in July 1936 when his first diary-recorded bike trip began, he was only 14 years old. By the time of the rest of the trips recorded here (all of which took place before the annexation of Austria to Germany), he was 15 years old. Quite a responsible, resiliant, hardy and adventurous young National-Socialist "Hitler Youth" he was, who later became a valiant defender of the Reich.  My thanks to Willy Wenger for sending these diary entries to me – along with the photographs taken by 'Poldi (called Bibi by family) – and to Wilfried Heink for translating it from the German original – a large undertaking.

While this may not interest everyone, I believe it is of great value for comparing our youth of that time with our youth of today. -cy

P.S. On 6-5-2016 I linked the images to the file view, so just click on them for a larger view.

The Salzburg Journey, May 5-8, 1936

Sunday, July 5, 1936. We were to leave Leoben at 5:30, but I slept in and was picked up by Prommer and Horvat; we left Leoben at 5:45. We traveled via Edling to Seitz. Between Kammern and Mauten, we had to stop for the first time, my canteen/flask, fastened to my rucksack had slipped between the frame of my bike and the hind wheel during a descent. It acted as a brake, and the felt encasing was severely damaged.

The first rest stop was at the Schober summit. We arrived in Liezen at 12 noon in time for lunch. It had been extremely hot all morning. Past Steinach-Erdning we left the main road, pushed our bikes for one and a half hour over the Klachau pass and arrived in Bad Aussee at 16.45. We rested for awhile and at 17:00 we started to push our bikes to the Koppe, a very narrow pass used as a shortcut to Hallstadt. At about the border between Styria and Upper-Austria the road reaches its highest point, to the right a canyon used by the railroad. The road was in horrible shape; a car could never have driven through here. There were also warning signs posted: "Bicycle riders dismount, very steep grade, avalanche danger!"

The Days of Our Revolution

Published by carolyn on Tue, 2013-03-12 08:14

From Leopold Wenger's Trip Diary

The Days of Our Revolution

copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger and Carolyn Yeager

Translated from the German by Hasso Castrup

Following are the stirring events that took place in Leoben, Styria from February 12 through March 20, 1938, preparatory to the Anchluss (Austria becoming part of the German Reich) as recorded at the time by 16 year-old Hitler Youth member Leopold Wenger. Courtesy of Willy Wenger. -cy

12 February 1938  On our old campsite, at our cabin on Kraubatheck, there was for quite a long time already plans for a Hitler Youth camp again and it was scheduled to open this evening ... and as our term vacations were ending on 16 February, we were to spend four full days. Everything was already prepared and the food was already up there. I apologized that I could not come before Sunday because we had to sit in the police prison of Leoben and Wurschitz - 12 hours for a bicycle offense. (The fine was too expensive for us, therefore I had to endure the sentence). These 12 hours felt like an eternity. We were there together with all kinds of criminals: One of them told us that recently a Nazi was sitting there too, was then sent on to the district court but first he hid his revolver, cartridges and a swastika armband with the stamp of Donawitz in a wastebasket. One of the crooks found it and, with pleasure, handed it to the police.

Below: Our cabin in Schladnitzgraben; Right: Illegal Hitler Youth meet for skiing.

Group picture of Leoben illegal Hitler Youth, Feburary 1938


He asked me if I ever had anything to do with the police. Surprised, I denied it. Then he told me that our comrade Tiefental was brought to police HQ (hauled directly from his job) and interrogated by Major Zenz. He was shown a list, comprising all members of our [Hitler Youth] group in Leoben, including our group leader Marek. All the Scharführers, etc. were listed exactly. We were shocked. No one could imagine how the police got this information. That was the reason why the Hitler Youth camp had to be canceled immediately on account of the risk of a razzia [raid].

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