According to various sources, the youngest Recipient of the “Iron Cross 2nd Class” of the Third Reich, was 12 year old Alfred Czech. The last days of the Reich were some of the most gruesome, nowhere to hide, nowhere to run, encircled by various forces and not sure if you will come out alive but some young boys stepped up and showed true heroism although knowing that everything else was lost.
It was 20 March 1945, when Alfred Czech with 19 other comrades, was personally greeted in the garden of the Reichskanzlei by Adolf Hitler and congratulated to the awarding of the Iron Cross 2nd Class. He earned the cross a day earlier when Alfred, near his hometown of Oppeln, whilst being under artillery and machine gun fire helped 12 wounded German soldiers, brought 11 cows into safety and delivered a Soviet Spy to the Police.
A War Reporter wrote in 1945:
„Der Divisionskommandeur einer schlesischen Infanterie-Division verlieh dem zwölfjährigen Jungvolk-Zugführer Alfred Zech aus Goldenau (Oberschlesien) das Eiserne Kreuz, 2. Klasse. Der tapfere Junge hatte bei den Kämpfen um seinen Heimatort zusammen mit seinem kriegsversehrten Vater beobachtet, wie ein Grenadier sich mühsam zurückarbeitete. Sein Vater sagte ihm, daß der Mann wohl verwundet sei. Da spannte der Zwölfjährige seine beiden Pferde vor seinen Schlitten, lud noch einen Handschlitten auf und holte, während er das Gespann in Deckung stehen ließ, mit seinem Handschlitten nacheinander zwölf verwundete deutsche Soldaten aus schwerem feindlichen Feuer. Alfred Zech wurde gleichzeitig mit einer Uhr beschenkt, weil er die Verhaftung eines feindlichen Spions veranlaßt hatte. Dem aufgeregten Jungen war aufgefallen, daß ein ‚Obergefreiter‘, der in seinem Heimatort photographische Aufnahmen machte, den Dienstgrad-Winkel [fälschlicherweise] auf dem rechten Arm trug. Er folgte dem Verdächtigen solange, bis dieser durch Polizeibeamte festgenommen und überführt wurde.“
Alfred Czech was born on 12 October 1932 in Goldenau and passed away on 13 June 2011 in Hückelhoven-Kleingladbach. At the end of the war he got severely wounded by a shot through his lung, went into captivity and was released in 1947.
Newspaper article, Stern – 2006, from a interview with Alfred Czech:
Wilhelm Hübner born in 1929, was 16 years old when he received the Iron Cross II. Class on 9 March 1945 for actions done in his hometown of Lauban as Melder. He was personally greeted by Joseph Goebbels and later on 20 March 1945 also by Adolf Hitler together with Alfred Czech. Wilhelm Hübner passed away on 12 April 2010.
Another name from following photograph (see below) is Erwin Scheidewig who is seen right from Alfred Czech, 2 persons up.
Armin Dieter Lehmann was born on 23 May 1928 and passed away on 10 October 2008. Armin recalled:
At the age of ten, it was mandatory that I join the Deutsche Jungvolk (DJV), the junior branch of the Hitlerjugend . In January, 1945, I was drafted into the Volkssturm, the home defense. I was decorated (with the Iron Cross) for pulling battle-injured comrades out of the line of fire, after I had been seriously wounded myself. I was selected by Reichsjugendführer Artur Axmann to be a member of a Hitler Jugend Helden (Hitler Youth Heroes) delegation to visit the Führer in Berlin on his birthday.
I met Adolf Hitler in the Reich Chancellery garden (also known as the Hinterhof or backyard) outside his bunker on his last birthday, April 20, 1945. I became one of his last couriers as a member of Axmann’s staff. During my duty as a courier inside and outside the bunker, I witnessed the total collapse of the Third Reich. I was able to observe the final days of Hitler, Eva Braun, Martin Bormann, and Joseph Goebbels and his family. I was in the adjacent Party Chancellery when Hitler committed suicide.
There are no photographs known from this occasion on 20 April 1945, as all photographs of Hitler greeting the Hitlerjugend Helden delegation, were taken on 20 March 1945. Only one photograph is known of Armin Lehmann in uniform, which is depicted on the cover of his book:
Books of Armin D. Lehmann: In Hitler’s Bunker: A Boy Soldier’s Eyewitness Account of the Fuhrer’s Last Days and Hitler’s Last Courier.