Operation Heu-Aktion

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This was a German programme to impress large numbers of 10/15-year old eastern European, but especially Belorussian and Ukrainian, youths for training as skilled labourers in the German war industries (1944).

In the plan submitted on 10 June 1944 to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, in his capacity as minister of the interior, SS-Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger, the head of the SS main office in Berlin, recommended that Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model’s 9th Army ‘evacuate’ between 40,000 and 50,000 children, between the ages of 10 and 14, from the operational area of Generalfeldmarschall Ernst Busch’s Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ on the Eastern Front to work for the Third Reich. Himmler agreed to the plan, but would have preferred 15 to 17 year olds as these would have been better labourers.

However, the plan was not widely implemented for a number of political and economic reasons. Between March and October 1944 some 28,000 children between the ages of 10 and 18 were deported from Belorussia for work with the Luftwaffe and in the arms industry supplying the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS.