One of these young soldiers was Willi Hübner, a 16-year-old messenger with the Führer Grenadier Division. At the beginning of March 1945 the Führer Grenadier Division was part of a counterattack to retake the Silesian town of Lauban. After 8 days of fierce fighting the town was secured, and cameras from Die Deutche Wochenschau were there to capitalise on this success for propaganda purposes. Hübner was first awarded Eisernes Kreuz 2 Klasse (Iron Cross 2nd Class) by Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph P. Goebbels in Lauban. At 16, he was one of the youngest recipients of the award.
One day after he was flown to Berlin, given a new uniform, redecorated by Artur Axmann, and was told to wait to meet Hitler. On 20th March 1945 there was an award ceremony in the gardens of the Reichskanzlei in Berlin for members of the Hitlerjugend who had distinguished themselves in combat. The footage from this event is very famous, as is the last known footage of Hitler to be recorded.
Willi Hübner was compelled to tell his story for the cameras: “When the Russians were closing in on Lauban, I reported for voluntary duty as a messenger to the combat commander. My job was to take dispatches to the individual command posts. I also frequently took provisions and panzerfausts (literally “tank fists” a disposable anti-tank weapon) up to the front line under fire. I carried the panzerfausts in a wheel barrow under enemy fire”. The video below shows Willi telling his story (at 01:23).
Willi Hübner (1929-April 12, 2010) survived the war and settled in Landshut, Bavaria, becoming a good engine mechanic. He was interviewed for several documentaries including ‘V Was for Victory’ and ‘The World at War’.