You up there - We down here Anti-Aircraft Assistants vs. Allied Bomber Crews
The author describes in the book >You up there - we down here his experiences as a Luftwaffe Anti-Aircraft Assistant 1944-1945: “It was simply a question of us fifteen to sixteen-year olds manning the anti-aircraft guns on the ground defending ourselves against the airmen in the bombers and fighters 20 000 feet above our heads.”
Letters, reports, documents and above all, the author’s complete diary and photographs that do so much to authenticate this time capsule. He describes how it was in those days, the final two years of World War II – both on the ground and in the air, manning the guns and systems of the 7th German Anti-Aircraft Brigade, or on operations with the bombers of the 15th US Air Fleet - including insight into the lives of the schoolboy troopers “down here” and the bomber crews “up there”.
This Time Capsule >You up there - we down here includes some 280 photographs and illustrations, most of them never published before. Format 20*28cm, 270 pages, Hardcover.
Here some reading samples, fragments:
James D. Crabtree (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA) on amazon.com
This book was put together using photographs and journal entries by a Flak Helper, an antiaircraft assistant who was for all practical purposes drafted from school in order to help man the air defenses of the Third reich. Gerhard Oberleitner was one such flak helper whose was part of a group of schoolboys sent from his town (part of annexed Austria) to man the guns defending a tank factory. The use of flak helpers allowed the Luftwaffe to man the antiaircraft guns and associated equipment without taking badly-needed manpower from frontline service. Yet the boys manning the guns had to also attend school lessons on site. Their lives were supposed to be regimented by military life and yet their status as quasi-soldiers and the needs of the guns precluded the discipline and spit-and-polish standard in other units. And as the war went against Germany the life they lived became harder and harder.
I love the photos used in this book. Oberleitner was an amateur photographer but he got some excellent shots of what the day-to-day life of Flak crewmen was like. Also, his insights into how the operation of the flak sites worked in practice is fascinating. With that said, the organization of the book suffers as the book seems to jump among topics rather than work through a strictly chronological order. Also, the translation of some of the text is a little jarring... German antiaircraft artillery is almost always referred to as "flak," the same as it is in German. On the other hand, the acronym used by the author for flak helpers ("antiaircraft assistants") is "AAA," which is also the English abbreviation for antiaircraft artillery. There is no reason not to use the German terminology, at least in a sparing manner.
This is a good book. It is easy to read. But its style just takes some getting used to.
Allen Mc Kinstry (in al letter to Wilhelm Reichebner)
...I have shown the book to many of my friends who have all been very impressed. I have also taken it into school to let the history classes read it. Everyone has found it really fascinating as it has given them another different perspective of events during the 1940's. Thank you so much for sending me a copy.
recollectionsofwwii.blogspot.com 10/2011 (Matthew Smaldon)
In 1944, entire German school classes were deployed as anti-aircraft gun assistants (Luftwaffenhelfer) to support the heavy Flak defending Germany and Austria. These schoolboys were drilled in the use of the 88mm Flak gun to support the soldiers of the Wehrmacht battling the allied bomber streams. The author, Gerhard Oberleitner, was one of these boys, and was deployed near St. Valentin, Austria, to protect the local tank production works, one of the biggest in the Reich.
Letters, reports, documents and above all, the author’s complete diary and photographs do much to support this detailed and extensive account. He describes how it was in the final two years of World War II, both on the ground and in the air, manning the guns and systems of the 7th German Anti-Aircraft Brigade. The author has also carried out research into the operations of bombers of the 15th US Air Fleet - the foes that his unit were opposing, thus providing an insight into both the lives of the schoolboy troopers “down here” and the bomber crews “up there”.