Twenty-year-old Gerhard Fricke, whose mother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1910, had avoided military service because of a speech impediment. Instead he had worked in military industry, helping to build submarines. After an initial bombing raid had destroyed his family's residence, they lived for a time with an aunt. Then as the building began to shake, Gerhard forced his aunt, his mother and a sister away from the building and into a deep underground bunker, saving all their lives.
His brother, Harald, who was three years younger, and his grandfather had shared duty helping fire marshals contain fires ignited by Operation Gomorrah. They were assigned to watch over the church's meetinghouse near where they lived.