Was Ratzinger in the 12th SS Panzer corps?
Following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth, as membership was required for all 14-year old German boys after December 1939, but was an unenthusiastic member and refused to attend meetings (His father was a bitter enemy of Nazism, believing it conflicted with the Catholic faith. In 1941, one of Ratzinger’s cousins, a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was taken away by the Nazi regime and killed during the Aktion T4 campaign of Nazi eugenics). In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps as Luftwaffenhelfer. Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry, but a subsequent illness precluded him from the usual rigours of military duty. As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he deserted back to his family’s home in Traunstein after his unit had ceased to exist, just as American troops established their headquarters in the Ratzinger household. As a German soldier, he was put in a POW
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