za axishistoryEstonian girls in air-defence
In the autumn of 1944 Estonian girls were not recruited for the Luftwaffe auxiliary service, although it was intended to do so initially. Apparently the rapidly changing situation in the Estonian eastern border caused the change. The recruitment campaign began in Gotenhafen after the German forces had left Estonia. All in all there were nearly one thousand Estonian girls recruited for the Auxiliary service. Some of them were sent for farm labour. Most of the girls were born in 1927, although there were some older girls, too. Many had lost contact with family and relatives in the chaos of the evacuation. Older girls expressed their wish to go study for medical nurses, but most of them were sent as “Luftwaffenhelferinnen” to Püttritz training camp for training.
After the Püttritz training camp 325 girls were sent to Stettin, where they we placed to work with fog-makers. Some of the girls were sent near Breslau for so called “paigutusteenistus” (no idea, what this means, perhaps some sort of help for evacuees?). In Stettin they were instructed by Air Force personnel. Their battery commander was a German oberleutnant and also lower commanders were German at first. Lower command posts were later given to Aino Sõmer, Mai Raud and Maaja Kuus, who wore silver stripes on their sleeves. The girls’ uniforms were blue German Air Force tunics. While in the city the girls wore skirts, but while in service, always trousers. The headgear was a ski cap with the badge of Eesti noored (Estonian Youth) in the front. The girls were also given helmets and gas-masks.
There was military industry in Stettin defended by air defence units outside the city. In the units Estonian girls lived with Germans. They were formed into platoons with 22 girls per platoon. They had to go to field and guard duty, but without arms. During air raids their job was to create artificial fog to prevent the attack-ers to see their targets. These so called “uduheitjad” (Nebelwerfer?) were very dangerous contraptions and many girls were wounded with the chemicals spilling from them.
In March 1945 the Western allies destroyed with heavy air attacks German military industries around Stet-tin protected by the Estonian girls’ Company. During tha air attacks one girl was killed. Some of the hgirls were now sent to the island of Rügen while others went to the North Sea island of Norderney to dig trenches. At the end of the war all of the girls were sent by foot towards Rostock, where they stayed in the Saasnitz camp. About 3000 helferinnen of different nationalities were placed there. When the Red Army approached Saasnitz, the girls were sent by foot westwards. Some of the Estonian girls remained in Rostock and were probably captured by the Russians.
The are no record on the majority of the Estonian girls and their further fate is unknown. Officially the Esto-nian girls volunteered for the Auxiliary service, but in reality they went necessitated by the circumstances, since this was the only way get ration cards for food; other than going to building work wit POWs. After the war most of the girls remained in the west. So far only some of them have been located.
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