Exclusive at carolynyeager.net! This is the never-before-published true story of a young German soldier thrown into the battle of Seelow Heights in the last month of the Second World War—how he survived against all odds and managed to return home.
The Odyssey of Fahnenjunker Wenger
From the Seelow Heights—April 1945
Back Home to Leoben, Austria—July 1945
By Willy Wenger
An officer-candidate in the German Luftwaffe, Willy Wenger was only 18 in 1945 when his “odyssey” began. He is now 86. His older brother Leopold Wenger was awarded the Knight’s Cross, Germany's highest military decoration.
Translation and Introduction by Wilhelm Kriessmann
Editing by Carolyn Yeager
copyright 2013 Wilhelm Wenger
For the 17-year-old high school student Willy Wenger, his brother "Poldi," squadron leader at SG10 of the German Luftwaffe, was an outstanding role model. Willy wanted to follow in the footsteps of this highly decorated Jabo* pilot, who was five years older than himself. In July 1942, Willy received his C license for glider pilots (pictured at right on glider) and in April 1943 at the Reichssegelflugschule Spitzerberg near Vienna, he earned the Luftfahrerschein (air pilot pass). (See picture below)
[*Jagdbomber: fighter-bomber ]
The war situation in the spring of 1943 made it necessary to call up the final classes of high school students to the services of the Home Anti-Aircraft Forces, or FLAK. Wenger’s high school class assembled at barracks within the steel plant of the Herman Goering Werke (later named Voest-Alpine) at Linz/Donau. School lessons continued but the young pupils also had to learn how to handle the 3.7cm anti-aircraft guns and all the additional equipment.
Above: Wenger earns his basic pilot's license in 1943 at the flying school at Spitzerberg.
Because of injuries at gun practices, Willy was able to spend a furlough at home in Leoben at the same time his older brother 'Poldi, the Luftwaffen pilot, also arrived back home for a short leave.