Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Early life)
Genscher was born at Reideburg (Saalkreis), near Halle, in what later became East Germany. At a young age, Genscher joined the Hitler Youth and later served as a Luftwaffenhelfer in the Army from 1943 to 1945. As an adult, he was also a member of the NSDAP, despite regulations encouraging active duty military members to avoid holding membership in political organizations (these regulations were widely ignored in the later days of Adolf Hitler's Germany).
At the end of the Second World War, Genscher briefly became an American and British prisoner of war. After World War II, he studied law and economics at the universities of Halle and Leipzig (1946-1949) and joined the East German Liberal Democratic Party (LDPD) in 1946.