The German Youth Gangs That Battled the Nazis During World War II
The German Youth Gangs That Battled the Nazis During World War II

The German Youth Gangs That Battled the Nazis During World War II

Kurt Christopher - July 14, 2017

On the night of September 29 Lorent and Hans were at a local bar celebrating their successful assassination when a friend of theirs, who insisted everyone just call him “Edi,” asked if the two of them would be willing to take in a fugitive. Already drunk and celebrating, the two agreed, and the next day “Edi” brought the fugitive to their hideout. It was Steinbrück. It didn’t take long for Steinbrück and Lorent to become close, and to seal the bond the two of stole a car and some weapons together that night.

The German Youth Gangs That Battled the Nazis During World War II
The execution of members of Steinbrück’s gang on November 10, 1944. libcom.org

After the two established trust in the shared heist, Steinbrück told Lorent about how the Gestapo was holding Cäcilie captive at Schönstein Street and Lorent revealed his recent assassination. Seeing an opportunity, Steinbrück proposed that Lorent and Hans should come with him to try and free Cäcilie, promising that he would have the chance to kill more Nazis. They planned the “Nazi hunt” for the next day, recruiting some of the Edelweiss Pirate boys to help them.

On the night of October 1, 1944, the band set out in two cars loaded down with weapons to rescue Cäcilie. The plan was that Steinbrück would take his car around the back while Hans would drive the other car up to the front with Lorent laying on the front hood ready to shoot, but the whole thing went bad from the beginning. When they arrived at the apartment Lorent spotted a police officer and opened fire, hitting him in the knee. The first shot was supposed to be the signal for the attack, but Hans panicked and sped away, crashing into Steinbrück’s car.

The collision stalled Steinbrück’s car, forcing Steinbrück to leave the vehicle to try and fix it while the boys in Hans’s car fired out the windows at any figures that approached. Once Steinbrück got his car running again the whole group fled, and the boys went home. Steinbrück and Lorent were not finished though. They returned on foot, but as they approached Schönstein Street they encountered an SA man on a bicycle. Lorent pointed his gun and said “hands up!” The SA man stopped his bike, whereupon Steinbrück walked up to him and shot him in the head.

Undeterred, the duo pressed on, taking a position overlooking the apartment. When they got there they observed a patrol of Hitler Youth near the building, and opened fire into the crowd killing one. It was all for nothing, though. The Gestapo had already moved Cäcilie so the rescue operation would be a failure. Enraged, Steinbrück concocted a plan to blow up the Cologne Gestapo headquarters. He would need explosives, but by now he was an expert in acquiring weapons in the ruins.

Their plot to steal explosives was foiled, though, by an attentive guard at the weapons dump. Now the Gestapo would begin to strike back. Lorent was arrested on October 3, 1944, and within a week the Gestapo would have most of the rest of the group including Steinbrück and the Edelweiss Pirate boys. After a month of brutal interrogation thirteen of the participants in Steinbrück’s gang, the youngest only sixteen years old, were hung from a specially constructed gallows on Schönstein Street.

Advertisement