The Wartime Memories Project - The Second World War

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Those who Served

It is not possible to fully understand the history of the Second World War without refering to the forces of the Axis.

The Wartime Memories Project is purely a historical resource and the information contacted in this section is for historical educational. We are a Non Political organisation and do not support the ideas of The Third Riech, we simply present the facts.

Allied Forces - Browse by Surname.

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Axis Forces - Browse by Surname.

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Unteroffizier Werner Otto August " " Bendfeldt .       from Hamburg)

(d. )

My father, Werner Bendfeldt, received a certificate in memory of his time with Kampfgeschwader 1 "Hindenburg" signed by Major (and Commander) Manfred von Cossart. His rank was "Unteroffizier", which is equivalent to Corporal in the RAF and Staff Sergeant in the USAF.

Dad was with this unit from March 1944 until August 1944. According to my research (which I have just begun) this unit was flying over the Eastern front (Poland, Belorussia, Prussia) during this period, until severe fuel shortages brought their activities to a halt.

At some point during his time in the Luftwaffe he was in a plane that was shot down in action, I believe over the Mediterranean. He survived but with severe burns to his arm and some facial injuries. I don't know anything else about his war service except he was a trained mechanic (having served an apprenticeship with Daimler-Benz) when he joined the Luftwaffe in 1939 at age 18.

He took many, many photos while he was in the air force - of his comrades, various planes, airfields, girlfriends, and so forth. I have an original copy of his discharge notice - an English document (he was in the British sector) but with German typing. I also have another certificate clearing him of any Nazi inclinations and recategorising him, dated 1949.

After the war he met and married my mother and they emigrated to Australia, where they ran a corner store for many years in Western Sydney. Dad later became an opal miner at Lightning Ridge. He died in 1974.

I have begun researching in earnest now that I am recovering my German language skills. I was born in Australia but German was my first language. However, I had not spoken it regularly since I was 5 year old! Am now doing an intermediate class and loving it, and finding I am finally able to decipher all the wonderful historical documents I inherited.

Angela Cartland

Heinrich Boere .     Waffen SS Silbertanne Hit Squad

Heinrich Boere, who murdered Dutch civilians as part of a Nazi Waffen SS hit squad during World War II but avoided justice for six decades, died in a prison hospital while serving a life sentence. Boere died of natural causes in the facility in Froendenberg where he was being treated for dementia, North Rhine-Westphalia Justice Ministry spokesman Detlef Feige said. He had been the state's oldest prisoner. Boere was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals until his arrest in Germany and conviction in 2010 on three counts of murder.

"Late justice often sends a very powerful message regarding the importance of Nazi and Holocaust crimes," the center's top Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff, said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. "It's a comforting thought to know that Boere ended his life in a prison hospital rather than as a free man." During his six-month trial in Aachen, Boere admitted killing three civilians as a member of the "Silbertanne," or "Silver Fir," hit squad - a unit of largely Dutch SS volunteers responsible for reprisal killings of countrymen who were considered anti-Nazi. He sat through the proceedings in a wheelchair and was regularly monitored by a doctor. He spoke little, but told the court in a written statement he had no choice but to obey orders to carry out the killings. "As a simple soldier, I learned to carry out orders," Boere testified. "And I knew that if I didn't carry out my orders I would be breaking my oath and would be shot myself." But the presiding judge said there was no evidence Boere ever even tried to question his orders, and characterized the murders as hit-style slayings, with Boere and his accomplices dressed in civilian clothes and surprising their victims at their homes or places of work late at night or early in the morning. "These were murders that could hardly be outdone in terms of baseness and cowardice - beyond the respectability of any soldier," the judge said in his ruling. "The victims had no real chance."

Boere remained unapologetic to the end for his actions, saying that he had been proud to volunteer for the SS, and that times were different then. Born to a Dutch father and German mother in Eschweiler, Germany - on the outskirts of Aachen - Boere moved to the Netherlands when he was an infant. In testimony during his trial, Boere said he remembered his mother waking him up the night in 1940 that Germany invaded the Netherlands and seeing Stuka dive-bombers overhead. Instead of fearing the German bombs, he said his family was elated as the attack unfolded. "(My mother) said 'they're coming' now things will be better," he told the court, before later adding: "It was better." After the Germans had overrun his hometown of Maastricht and the rest of the Netherlands, the 18-year-old Boere saw a recruiting poster for the Waffen SS, signed by Heinrich Himmler. It offered German citizenship after two years of service and the possibility of becoming a policeman after that. He showed up with 100 other Dutchmen at the recruitment office and was one of 15 chosen. "I was very proud," Boere told the court. After fighting on the Russian front, Boere ended up back in the Netherlands as part of the "Silbertanne" hit squad. According to statements Boere made to Dutch authorities after the war, he and a fellow SS man were given a list of names slated for "retaliatory measures." Boere killed pharmacist Fritz Hubert Ernst Bicknese with a pistol in his pharmacy, then he and the accomplice killed bicycle-shop owner Teun de Groot when he answered the doorbell at his home. They forced the third victim, Franz Wilhelm Kusters, into their car, drove him to another town, stopped on the pretense of having a flat tire and shot him. "Kusters fell against the garden door ... and sank to the ground," Boere told investigators. "Blood shot out of Kusters' neck."

After the war, Boere managed to escape the prisoner-of-war camp where he was being held in the Netherlands and eventually return to Germany. He was sentenced to death in the Netherlands in 1949 - later commuted to life imprisonment - but the case always seemed to fall through the legal cracks. The Netherlands sought Boere's extradition, but a German court in 1983 refused on the grounds that he might have German citizenship, and Germany at the time had no provision to extradite its own nationals. A state court in Aachen ruled in 2007 that Boere could legally serve his Dutch sentence in Germany, but an appeals court in Cologne overturned the ruling, calling the 1949 conviction invalid because Boere was not there to present a defense. It was after the appeals ruling that a prosecutor in Dortmund quietly reopened the case, beginning from scratch and charging Boere with the three murders in 2008. During his trial, Boere told the court he was aware of the possibility he would be pursued by authorities, so much so that he never married. "I always had to consider that my past might catch up with me," he said. "I didn't want to inflict that upon a woman."

S Flynn

Brunsendorf .     Luftwaffe 3./NJG3

Can you help us to add to our records?

The names and stories on this website have been submitted by their relatives and friends. If your relations are not listed please add their names so that others can read about them

Did you or your relatives live through the Second World War? Do you have any photos, newspaper clippings, postcards or letters from that period? Have you researched the names on your local or war memorial? Were you or your relative evacuated? Did an air raid affect your area?

If so please let us know.

Help us to build a database of information on those who served both at home and abroad so that future generations may learn of their sacrifice.

Celebrate your own Family History

Celebrate by honouring members of your family who served in the Secomd World War both in the forces and at home. We love to hear about the soldiers, but also remember the many who served in support roles, nurses, doctors, land army, muntions workers etc.

Please use our Family History resources to find out more about your relatives. Then please send in a short article, with a photo if possible, so that they can be remembered on these pages.

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