Hitler Youth - Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

In his 1996 autobiography Salt of the Earth, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) revealed that he was a member of Hitler Youth when he was 14 years old. However, in a May 2009 trip to Israel, Benedict's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi told reporters that Ratzinger was never in the Hitler Youth, actually being in the Luftwaffe as an air force assistant. According to the Pope's brother, Monsignor Gregor Ratzinger, Josef was automatically placed on the Hitler Youth membership rolls on turning 14, as was required by law, but "did not attend meetings." In 1943 Ratzinger was conscripted into the Flakhelfer, teenage boys who assisted the crews of Luftwaffe antiaircraft guns; he eventually deserted and made his way to the American lines. The Ratzinger family, according to those who knew them, were very religious and hated the Nazi regime.

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