Image size: 1600 x 1590 pixel. 847 KB
Date: Tuesday, 3 April 1945
Place: Rechtenbach, Hesse, Germany
Photographer: John Florea
A fifteen year old German soldier, Hans-Georg Henke, cries after being captured by the US 9th Army in Rechtenbach, Germany, on April 3, 1945. He was a member of the Luftwaffe anti-air squad (Flakhelfer) who burst into tears as his world crumbled around him. His father died 1938 and his mother in 1944. He joined the Luftwaffe to support himself. When the war was coming to an end he walked 60 miles to try and reach American lines only to be captured by the Russians. Luckily, he and his two brothers all survived the war. He went on to live a full life and died in Finsterwalde, Germany, on 6 October 1997. Late February 1945 and 9th Army launched Operation Grenade, which was the southern prong of a pincer attack coordinated with Canadian First Army's Operation Veritable, with the purpose of closing the front up to the Rhine. By 10 March, the Rhine had been reached in all sectors of 9th Army's front. It was not until after 20 March that 9th Army units first crossed the Rhine itself. However, after doing so, the Army quickly struck east around the north of the Ruhr. An enormous pocket soon formed containing the German Heeresgruppe B under Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model. By 4 April, 9th Army had reached the Weser and was switched back to 12th Army Group.