Faces of War

Alfred Zech, a member of Deutsches Jungvolk, receiving the Iron Cross 2nd Class, at the age of 12

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A native of Goldenau, Upper Silesia (now Złotniki, Opole Voivodeship, Poland), Zech was decorated with the Iron Cross for transporting a dozen wounded soldiers from the front line to safety in a farm cart. The award ceremony took place in the courtyard of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin on March 23, 1945. Soon later, Alfred took short-term training courses in the use of the Panzerfaust anti-tank grenade launcher and was sent to the front in the area of ​​the city of Freudenthal in the Sudetenland (now Bruntal in the Czech Republic). In mid-April, he was wounded in the lung and taken prisoner. After his release in 1947, the fourteen-year-old boy returned to his native village of Goldenau, learning that his father had been killed while fighting in the Volkssturm. In 1964, Zech settled in North Rhine Westphalia, West Germany and found a job at a construction site. The iron cross, which Hitler gave him, Alfred threw away even before he was captured, but as an adult he bought himself another one from a junk dealer. He died in 2011.

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