The 20 Most Remarkable Teenagers From World War Two

Countless tales of heroism have emerged since the end of the Second World War. The fall of the Third Reich changed the course of history forever. New political allegiances were formed, and entire countries had to rebuild themselves from rubble. But, even now, there are still many incredible stories that haven’t been widely told…

When we think of remarkable teenagers from World War Two, one name immediately springs to mind: Anne Frank. However, teenagers played a much greater role during the Second World War than what you might think. Sadly, their stories have largely been overlooked because of the sheer devastation the war caused.

Can You Name Any Teenage WWII Heroes?

From teenagers who risked their lives to oppose the enemy, to teenagers who fought valiantly in battle, many young people showed wisdom and courage beyond their years during World War Two. To commemorate their bravery, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 most remarkable teenagers from the Second World War…

NEXT: An extremely young man who was determined to fight…

This American teenager didn’t want to sit back whilst older men went to war and fought. Despite being too young to enlist, he snuck into the army and eventually ended up saving the lives of his comrades…

1. Jack Lucas

At the age of just 14, Jack Lucas illegally enlisted for service. His superiors soon noticed that he was too young to be in the army, but he persuaded them to stay and was given a relatively danger-free role as a driver. Jack, however, wanted to fight and snuck into battle. He saved his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade in a trench after telling them to run. He miraculously survived.

NEXT: The youngest American to fight in the Second World War…

If you thought that Jack Lucas was young, this incredible teen was even younger when he enlisted for service. He was only 12 years old when he joined the navy and was a veteran by the time he was 13…

2. Calvin Graham

After going to extreme lengths to get into the army, having his parents’ signatures forged and conceiving an elaborate lie about where he was, Calvin Graham became the youngest serviceman in World War Two. He won medals for his bravery during the war, and, even though he was injured, continued fighting until his incredibly young age was exposed.

NEXT: A young girl who was determined to resist the Nazi rule…

Back in the ’40s, women didn’t have the same rights as men. Victorian ideas of women being homemakers were still very much prevalent in the minds of many. But this incredible young woman not only defied what was expected of her gender by learning how to fight, but killed hundreds of Nazis in the process…

3. Zinaida Martynovna Portnova

When a Nazi soldier assaulted her grandmother, German teenager Zinaida knew that she wasn’t on the Hitler’s side. She became a part of a resistance movement that saw her become proficient at using weapons like guns. She helped weaken the Nazis by blowing up buildings and, when she worked in a kitchen, poisoning their food.

NEXT: The youngest teen rebel to be executed by the Nazis…

This German teen was determined to expose the Nazi regime for the monstrosity it was from within Germany. After being forced to join the Hitler youth, he rebelled when he saw the way the Jews were treated…

4. Helmuth Günther Guddat Hübener

Kristallnacht, otherwise known as the Night of the Broken Glass, was turning point for this teen. It was when the Nazi party deliberately destroyed Jewish businesses, homes and synagogs within Germany – an event which left the streets littered with broken glass. That was when Helmuth realised that the Nazi treatment of the Jews was wrong. He did what he could within Germany to show people that it was wrong by distributing anti-Nazi material. But was caught and beheaded when he was just 17 years old.

NEXT: A Polish teen who saved Jews from certain death…

The worst atrocity of the Second World War was the holocaust, which saw millions of Jews systematically murdered. This young Polish girl had worked for a Polish family and took action to save lives…

5. Stefania Podgorska

Like many war heroes, Stefana Podgorska, who was just sixteen at the time, hid Jewish people from the Nazis when they were being sent off to concentration camps. Everyone in the family she had worked for wassent to camps apart from their son Max Diamant. She hid him from the Nazis and eventually look in another 12 Jews. When the war ended, Stefania and Max married.

NEXT: A teen who went without food to save lives…

This incredible Polish man was just a teenager when he and his family decided to hide 23 Jewish people in their backyard. The Nazi extermination of the Jews had begun, but they put their lives on the line to save them…

6. Julian Bilecki

Saving 23 people was no easy task. Julian’s entire family went without food, as did those who knew they were sheltering them, so that they could survive the ordeal in their makeshift bunker. As Poland was ravaged by war at the time, its people were already living on rations, but they all clubbed together to save the lives of this small group of Jews. Julian was reunited with 5 of them later in life.

NEXT: A teenage girl who wasn’t afraid to bear arms…

The Nazis successfully occupied a number of countries during the war, but the people who lived there weren’t going to go down without a fight. This young girl took on some extremely dangerous missions…

7. Simone Segouin

French resistance member Simone Segouin was eighteen when she showed remarkable bravery in her willingness to defeat the Nazis. She was given relatively danger-free jobs at first, but her competence and determination to defeat the Nazis led to her taking on some extremely missions like blowing up bridges. By the end of the war, she was a lieutenant.

NEXT: A heroic teenager who waited six decades to be recognized…

This amazing teen was one of a number of teenagers who refused to join the Hitler Youth. Instead they formed a rebellious group known was the Edelweiss Pirates who went against everything the Nazis stood for…

8. Gertrud Koch

Rebels of their day, the Edelweiss Pirates would meet up for parties and social events, defying the strict rules that the Nazis had set up for German teenagers. Despite providing a place of refuge for many teens oppressed by the regime, the value of the group wasn’t recognised until sixty years after the war had ended.

“After the war there were no judges in Germany,” Koch revealed, “so the old Nazi judges were used and they upheld the criminalisation of what we did and who we were.”

NEXT: A young smuggler who stealthily saved lives…

The Nazis operated a police state where people were encouraged to hand in their own family members for not following the party’s rules. Despite a curfew, this Swiss teenager was determined to beat the enemy…

9. Bernard Bouveret

Like Simone Segouin, Bouveret’s jobs as part of the Swiss secret service started out small, but he was soon smuggling fugitives out of the country. He saved hundreds. Sadly, however, he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, but he survived the ordeal and got his freedom back when the war ended in 1945.

NEXT: A teenage D-Day hero…

D-Day marked a turning point in World War Two. It was a complete travesty for German forces that enabled the allies to get the foothold they needed to win the war. This teenager was one of the men fighting…

10. Walter Moss

Whilst D-Day was an incredibly successful mission for the British, thousands of men lost their lives. Those who arrived on Normandy’s beaches that fateful day had little chance of survival, but Walter Moss lived to tell the tale and returned home to his wife, who was also a teenager at the time. They died on the same day after 72 years of marriage.

NEXT: A teenager whose forgeries saved thousands of lives…

During World War Two, many people managed to escape the Nazis by forging papers to show they weren’t a part of a persecuted group. This teen was a master forger, and she put her skills to good use…

11. Charlotte Sorkine

Forger and people smuggler, Charolette Sorkine was just 17 when she saved thousands of people’s lives, including that of her own father. When the resistance group that she was a part of had to disband, she immediately joined another. This time she helped obtain weapons and eventually played a role in the French liberation of Paris.

NEXT: A teen who was charged with one of the most harrowing jobs during the war…

Whilst it might seem like the teenage heroes of World War Two were all involved in conflict, some young heroes did perfectly legal jobs that required strength and commitment far beyond their years…

12. Gerald James Barton

As so many men fought during the war, their families would often sit at home fraught with worry about where they were. When the worst happened, a telegram was sent. At the age of 14, Gerald Barton was charged with the task of delivering these heartbreaking messages, often having to trudge through difficult weather conditions to give families the news they craved:

I still recollect one late afternoon being sent to a farmhouse .There was I a young lad of 14 pushing my bicycle which was almost as big as me, up this hill in complete darkness except for my cycle half lamp. Looking back, such an experience was quite frightening, and, even after traversing the downhill to the Farriers as if the devil himself was behind me, there was still a long haul in utter darkness.

NEXT: A teenager who parachuted into action…

The moment it was legal for her to do so, this Canadian teenager enlisted at the age of 17. Amazingly, she parachuted into action and played a key role in helping advance the war effort…

13. Sonia Butt

Tis real-life female 007 helped obtain key information from German soldiers by flirting with them. Her job was incredibly dangerous, and, when she was exposed as a fugitive, she was beaten and violated by German soldiers. She survived this horrific experience and continued her work as a spy until the end of the war.

NEXT: A teen who captured the essence of what it meant to live in Nazi Germany…

It’s hard to imagine what the war would have been like within Nazi Germany. However, this teenager wrote a diary which provided a poignant insight into the lives of ordinary Germans during this tumultuous period in history, but perhaps most significantly, showed the world how they were able to cope with the atrocities happening around them…

14. Brigitte Eicke

Often cited as the German Anne Frank, Brigitte Eickle kept a diary as a teenager whilst living in Nazi Germany, which she began at the age of 15. It showed how ordinary Germans reacted to the war and revealed that many of them were completely oblivious to the horror which was unfolding on their very doorsteps. She might not be a typical wartime hero, but her diary was remarkable in its own right. In 1944, she wrote:

“The school had been bombed when we arrived this morning. Waltraud, Melitta and I went back to Gisela’s and danced to gramophone records.”

“My son always said to me: how could you be so oblivious? But I never saw a thing,” Brigitte later revealed in an interview. “There were some Jewish girls in my first class photograph taken in 1933 but, by the time the next one was taken, they were all gone. When I asked my mother about them, she said they had moved to Palestine.”

NEXT: A heroic teenager who paid the ultimate price…

This incredible teenager saved countless lives during the war, and in the process ended up paying for it with her life. But what she did at the end of her life showed just how incredibly brave she was…

15. Masha Bruskina

This 17-year-old hero, Masha Bruskina saved Russian soldiers by getting them the necessary papers and clothes to escape the Nazis when she worked in a hospital. She was eventually exposed as by a patient and sentenced to death. Horrifyingly, she was tortured before her death, but never divulged any information about those she resisted with. She walked calmly and with dignity to her hanging.

NEXT: A teenage hero on the British home front…

During the war, when men went off to bravely fight, there was still a lot of work to be done on the home front. Namely, in munitions factories. The army had to have a large supply of ammunition if it was to stand any chance of defeating Hitler and the Nazis. That’s when brave teenager girls like this remarkable woman stepped in…

16. Dorothy Rumbles

When she was just 14, Dorothy Rumbles began working in a munitions factory, like the woman pictured above, ensuring that she played a role in what was known as the war effort. Looking back on her experience, Dorothy was humble about the work that she did. There’s no doubt, however, that her story is part of a remarkable coming together that helped strengthen allied forces from the home front…

“I never really thought about the danger of war, I think we knew that we just had to get on with it,” she said. 

NEXT: A badass teenager who led amorous German soldiers to their deaths…

This Dutch teenager’s entire family hated the Germans. However, she went a step further than anyone else in her family, and, at the age of just 14, she started to help take down the Nazis…

17. Truus Oversteegen

Seductress and trained fighter, Truss Oversteegen killed countless German soldiers and even saved children from concentration camps. She would deliberately get the soldiers’ attention and, once she had it, she’d lead them into woods where they expected to make love. Instead, her resistance group shot them…

NEXT: A young woman who refused to join the ignorant German masses…

Thanks to her father’s good sense, this remarkable teen soon realised that Hitler and the Nazi’s regime was not the great movement that it proclaimed itself to be. Whilst it would have been easier for her to close her mind to what was happening in Germany, she took action to oppose the Nazis and paid the ultimate price…

18. Sophie Scholl

Despite having initially joined the Hitler Youth with relative enthusiasm, it didn’t take long for Sophie Scholl to realise how evil the Nazis really were. She began to passively rebel in 1941 at the age of 19, recognising the systematic indoctrination which Germany’s people were being subject to. Then, shortly after turning 20, began to actively rebel by helping write a revolutionary pamphlet called The White Rose which openly opposed the party. They wrote and distributed a number of copies of it amongst German students, catching the attention of many, but sadly she was eventually caught and executed.

“Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did,” she said.

NEXT: A teenage hero who continued to save lives even after the war ended…

This Jewish teenager’s scientific aptitude led to him joining a resistance group. Of all the teenagers on this list, he probably managed to save the greatest number of lives, saving a total of more than 14,000 people…

19. Adolfo Kaminsky

Forging papers and passports enabled Adolfo Kamisnky to save thousands upon thousands of lives during World War Two. Despite doing work that desperate people were more than willing to pay for, Adolfo worked for free. He continued to make false documents for those in need after the war was over.

NEXT: The Second World War’s most famous teenager…

This wouldn’t be a list of remarkable teenagers from World War Two if this young German-Jewish girl didn’t get a mention. Whist she didn’t save lives, what she wrote in her diary provided one of the most valuable insights into what thousands of people suffered as a result of the Nazi regime…

20. Anne Frank

It is of course Anne Frank. The diary she wrote between 1942 and 1944 has become one of the most celebrated works ever written by a teenager. It poignant insight into the day to day lives of those who were hiding from the Nazis. Tragically, she never lived to see the success of her diary and was eventually caught and executed when she was just fifteen years old.

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