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Lieutenant-General Gerhard “Gerd” Barkhorn (20 March 1919 – 8 January 1983) was the second most successful fighter ace of all time after fellow Luftwaffe pilot Erich Hartmann. Barkhorn joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 and completed his training in 1939.
Barkhorn flew his first combat missions in May 1940, during the Battle of France and then the Battle of Britain without scoring an aerial victory—that is an aerial combat encounter resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft. His first victory came in July 1941 and his total rose steadily against Soviet opposition. In March 1944 he was awarded the third highest decoration in the Wehrmacht when he received the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) for 250 aerial victories. Despite being the second highest scoring pilot in aviation history, Barkhorn was not awarded the Diamonds to his Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords after achieving his 300th victory on 5 January 1945.
Barkhorn flew 1,104 combat sorties and was credited with 301 victories on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Red Air Force piloting the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9. He flew with the famed Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52—Fighter Wing 52), alongside fellow aces Hartmann and Günther Rall, and Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2). Less than two weeks later he left JG 52 on the Eastern Front and joined Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3), defending Germany from Western Allied air attack.
Barkhorn survived the war and was taken prisoner by the Western Allies in May 1945 and released later that year. After the war Barkhorn joined the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr also called colloquially Bundesluftwaffe, serving until 1976. On 6 January 1983, Barkhorn was involved in a car accident with his wife Christl. She died instantly and Gerhard died two days later on 8 January 1983.
Karl-Heinrich Bodenschatz (10 December 1890 – 25 August 1979) was a German general who was the adjutant to Manfred von Richthofen in World War I and the liaison officer between Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler in World War II.
Eckhard Christian (1 December 1907 – 3 January 1985) was a Luftwaffe officer in World War II, and rose to the rank of Generalmajor. On 2 February 1943, he married Gerda Daranowski who was one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries during World War II. Eckhard was captured by British troops on 8 May 1945 and held in custody until 7 May 1947.
Otto Dessloch (11 June 1889 – 13 May 1977) was a German World War II Luftwaffe general and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Alfred Erhard (April 15, 1899 in Aschaffenburg; †17th April 1945 in Dusseldorf) was a German officer, last Major General of the Air Force in the Second World War.
Walter Frentz ( 21 August 1907 – 6 July 2004) was a German cameraman, film producer and photographer, who was considerably involved in the picture propaganda of Nazi Germany.
Frentz was born at Heilbronn. During the Nazi regime in Germany, he worked as a cameraman for Leni Riefenstahl; from 1939 to 1945, he was closely associated with photographing and filming activities of higher echelons of leaders of Nazi Germany, including German dictator Adolf Hitler.
He died at Überlingen in 2004.
Stefan Fröhlich (7 October 1889 – 2 October 1978) was a highly decorated General der Flieger in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Adolf “Dolfo” Joseph Ferdinand Galland (19 March 1912 – 9 February 1996) was a German Luftwaffe general and flying ace who served throughout the Second World War in Europe. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western and the Defence of the Reich fronts. On four occasions he survived being shot down, and he was credited with 104 aerial victories, all of them against the Western Allies.
Galland, who was born in Westerholt, Westphalia, became a glider pilot in 1929 before he joined Lufthansa. In 1932 he graduated as a pilot at the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule (German Commercial Flyers’ School) in Braunschweig before applying to join the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic later in the year. Galland’s application was accepted, but he never took up the offer. In February 1934 he was transferred to the Luftwaffe. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, he volunteered for the Condor Legion and flew ground attack missions in support of the Nationalists under Francisco Franco. After finishing his tour in 1938 Galland was employed in the Air Ministry writing doctrinal and technical manuals about his experiences as a ground-attack pilot. During this period Galland served as an instructor for ground-attack units. During the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, he again flew ground attack missions. In early 1940 Galland managed to persuade his superiors to allow him to become a fighter pilot.
Galland flew Messerschmitt Bf 109s during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. By the end of 1940 his tally of victories had reached 57. In 1941 Galland stayed in France and fought the Royal Air Force (RAF) over the English Channel and Northern France. By November 1941 his tally had increased to 96, by which time he had earned the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. In November 1941, Werner Mölders, who commanded the German Fighter Force as the General der Jagdflieger, was killed in a flying accident and Galland succeeded him, staying in the position until January 1945. As General der Jagdflieger, Galland was forbidden to fly combat missions.
In late January and early February 1942, Galland first planned then commanded the Luftwaffe’s air cover for the Kriegsmarine’s Operation Cerberus which was a major success. It earned him the coveted Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Over the ensuing years, Galland’s disagreements with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring about how best to combat the Allied Air Forces bombing Germany caused their relationship to deteriorate. The Luftwaffe fighter force was under severe pressure by 1944 and Galland was blamed by Göring for the failure to prevent the Allied strategic bombing of Germany in daylight. The relationship collapsed altogether in early January 1945, when Galland was relieved of his command because of his constant criticism of the Luftwaffe leadership. Galland was then put under house arrest following the so-called Revolt of the Kommodores, during which senior Jagdwaffe pilots tried to “save” Galland’s position, while having Göring dismissed as Reichsmarschall.
In March 1945, Galland returned to operational flying and was permitted to form a jet fighter unit which Galland called Jagdverband 44. He flew missions over Germany until the end of the war in May. After the war Galland was employed by Argentina’s Government and acted as a consultant to the Argentine Air Force. Later he returned to Germany and managed his own business. Galland also befriended many former enemies, such as RAF aces Robert Stanford Tuck and Douglas Bader. Adolf Galland died in February 1996.
Walter Gericke (23 December 1907 – 19 October 1991), was a German Fallschirmjäger during World War II and Generalmajor of the West German Bundeswehr. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Gericke participated in the Battle of the Netherlands and the Battle of Crete as a Battalion commander of the Fallschirmjäger. He later commanded the Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 11 and fought in the defensive battles at Anzio. He joined the newly formed Bundeswehr after the rearmament of West Germany and as a Generalmajor led the 1. Luftlande-Division from 1962 to 1965.
Walter Grabmann (20 September 1905 – 20 August 1992) was a German World War II Luftwaffe Generalmajor. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Grabmann is credited with 7 aerial victories during the Spanish Civil War claimed in 137 combat missions.
Erich Hellmann (13 February 1916 – 24 January 1998) was a highly decorated Oberleutnant in the Fallschirmjäger during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Josef Kammhuber (August 19, 1896 – January 25, 1986) was a career officer in the Luftwaffe and post-World War II German Air Force, and is best known as the first general of night fighters in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He is credited with setting up the first truly successful night fighter defense system, the so-called Kammhuber Line, but a detailed knowledge of the system provided to the Royal Air Force by British military intelligence allowed them to render it ineffective. Personal battles between himself and Erhard Milch, director of the Reich Air Ministry, eventually led to his dismissal in 1943. After the war, he returned to the military sphere in Germany’s Federal Defense Force.
Günther Korten (26 July 1898 – 22 July 1944) was a German Colonel General and Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe in World War II. He died from injuries suffered in the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in July 1944.
Alexander Löhr (20 May 1885 – 26 February 1947) was an Austrian Air Force (Österreichische Luftstreitkräfte) commander during the 1930s and, after the “Political Union of Germany and Austria” (Anschluss), he was a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) commander. Löhr served in the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Löhr was one of three former Austrians who rose to the rank of Generaloberst (Colonel General) within the German Wehrmacht. The other two were Erhard Raus and Lothar Rendulic.
Eugen Meindl (16 July 1892 – 24 January 1951) was a highly decorated German Fallschirmjäger and general during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Job Wilhelm Odebrecht (25 February 1892 – 20 November 1982) was a highly decorated General der Flakartillerie in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He was captured in May 1945 and was released in 1947.
Dietrich Peltz (9 June 1914 – 10 August 2001) was a German World War II Luftwaffe bomber pilot and youngest general of the Wehrmacht. As a pilot he flew approximately 320 combat missions, including roughly 130 as a bomber pilot on the Eastern Front, 90 as a bomber pilot on the Western Front, and 102 as a dive bomber pilot during the Invasion of Poland and Battle of France.
Born in Gera, Peltz joined the military service in the Reichswehr, later renamed Wehrmacht, of the Third Reich in 1934. Initially serving in the Heer (Army), he transferred to the Luftwaffe (Air Force) in 1935. He flew combat missions over Poland and France as a dive bomber pilot. He then converted to the Junkers Ju 88 bomber and was assigned to Kampfgeschwader 77 (KG 77—77th Bomber Wing). With this unit he flew further combat missions in the Battle of Britain. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 14 October 1940. During Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Peltz was instrumental in developing bombing techniques which allowed precision bombing attacks. This achievement earned him the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves on 31 December 1941. He was then posted to a bomber unit leader’s school before he was tasked to form a unit, I. Gruppe (1st group) of Kampfgeschwader 60 (KG 60—60th Bomber Wing), specialized on the use of precision-guided munition against Allied shipping.
In early 1943 Peltz was appointed Inspector of Combat Flight, a role in which he oversaw the strategic development of the German bomber arm. As of August 1943, he was appointed commanding general of the IX. Fliegerkorps (9th Air Corps) and was tasked with reviving the German bomber offensive as Angriffsführer England (attack leader England) against Britain and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 23 July 1943 for his leadership. This initiative lead to a night-time strategic bombing campaign against southern England code-named Operation Steinbock, which ended in heavy losses for German bombers in early 1944. Although a bomber expert, he was appointed commanding general of the II. Jagdkorps (2nd Fighter Corps) and was responsible for the planning of the unsuccessful Operation Bodenplatte, the attack of German fighters on Allied air bases in Belgium and the Netherlands. He was tasked with the entire aerial Defense of the Reich in March 1945 and advocated the idea of “ramming” to halt the air campaign against Germany even at the risk of sustaining high losses. His last service position was commanding general of I. Fliegerkorps (1st Air Corps). After the war he worked for Krupp and Telefunken and died on 10 August 2001 in Munich.
Edgar Petersen (26 April 1904 – 10 June 1986) was a German Luftwaffe bomber pilot and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Petersen was instrumental in converting the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 into what Winston Churchill called the “Scourge of the Atlantic” during the Battle of the Atlantic. He also served in the position of Kommandeur der Erprobungstellen (commander of all Luftwaffe test stations) as an Oberst later in the war, in which capacity from September 1942 onwards became centrally involved with the further development work required for the Luftwaffe’s only operational heavy bomber, the Heinkel He 177A, to make it combat ready, mostly focusing on the fire-prone DB 606 and DB 610 power plants used for powering the He 177A’s airframe. In September 1942, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring had rescinded the 1937-imposed mandate or the He 177A to perform moderate-angle dive bombing missions. From the time of his appointment as the “KdE”, at Rechlin, Oberst Petersen would head the development program to govern and manage the task of applying the substantial number of upgrades required for the troubled He 177A to be successful in service.
Hermann-Bernhard “Gerhard” Ramcke (24 January 1889 – 4 July 1968) was a German general. He was a recipient of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Swords, Oak Leaves, and Diamonds, one of only 27 people in the German military so decorated. Ramcke’s career was unusual in that he served in all three branches of the German armed forces.
Heinz Rökker (born 20 October 1920) is a former German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He shot down 64 enemy aircraft (63 at night), all were British bombers.
Wilhelm Schmalz (1 March 1901 – 14 March 1983) was a highly decorated Generalleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Wilhelm Schmalz was captured by American troops in May 1945, he was accused of war crimes in Italy, but after 5 years the charges were dropped.
Ludwig Schulz (4 August 1896 – 10 December 1966) was a highly decorated Generalmajor in the Luftwaffe during World War II, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Ludwig Schulz was captured by American troops in May 1945 and was released in 1947.
Hans Seidemann (18 January 1901 – 21 December 1967) was a World War II Luftwaffe general. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Kurt Student (12 May 1890 – 1 July 1978) was a German Luftwaffe general who fought as a fighter pilot during the First World War and as the commander of German Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) during the Second World War. He was a convicted war criminal for his actions in Crete. He received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves were awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He lost the first major airborne operation of WWII, the Battle for The Hague in May 1940, where he narrowly escaped capture.
Hans-Jürgen Stumpff ( Kolberg 15 June 1889 – Frankfurt am Main 9 March 1968), was a German general during World War II and was one of the signatories to Germany’s unconditional surrender at the end of the war.
Stumpff joined the army in 1907 and served on the General Staff during World War I. During the Weimar Republic, he served as a staff officer in the Reichswehrministerium. On 1 September 1933, Stumpff, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, became head of personnel in the (illegal) Luftwaffe. After the Luftwaffe became formally legal in Germany, Stumpff served as its chief of staff from 1 June 1937 until 1 January 1939. In 1938, Stumpff was promoted to the rank of General der Flieger.
During the Second World War, Stumpff commanded various Luftflotten. On 19 July 1940, Stumpff was promoted to the rank of Generaloberst and awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. Until the end of 1943, Stumpff commanded Luftflotte 5, with which he took part in the Battle of Britain, operating out of Norway against Scotland and Northern England. Stumpff was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.
In January 1944, Stumpff commanded Luftwaffe forces in the Defense of the Reich campaign against the Allied bombing attacks. On 8 May 1945, Stumpff served as the Luftwaffe representative at the signing of the unconditional surrender of Germany in Berlin. Stumpff was released from British captivity in 1947; he died in 1968.
Heinrich “Heinz” Trettner (19 September 1907 – 18 September 2006) was a German general serving during World War II and from 1964 to 1966 Inspector General of the Bundeswehr. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He was the last living general of the Wehrmacht.
Colonel General Ernst Udet (26 April 1896 – 17 November 1941) was the second-highest scoring German flying ace of World War I. He was one of the youngest aces and was the highest scoring German ace to survive the war (at the age of 22).His 62 confirmed victories were second only to Manfred von Richthofen, his commander in the Flying Circus. Udet rose to become a squadron commander under Richthofen, and later under Hermann Göring.
Following Germany’s defeat, Udet spent the 1920s and early 1930s as a stunt pilot, international barnstormer, light aircraft manufacturer, and playboy. In 1933, he joined the now ruling Nazi Party and became involved in the early development of the Luftwaffe. He used his networking skills to become appointed director of research and development for the burgeoning air force. He was especially influential in the adoption of dive bombing techniques as well as the Stuka dive bomber. By 1939, Udet had risen to the post of Director-General of Equipment for the Luftwaffe. However, the stress of the position and his distaste for administrative duties led to an increasing dependence on alcohol.
When World War II began, the Luftwaffe’s needs for equipment outstripped Germany’s production capacity. Udet’s former comrade Hermann Göring first lied to Adolf Hitler about these material shortcomings when the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain, then deflected the Führer’s wrath onto Udet.
Operation Barbarossa, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union to open a second front in the war, appears to have been the final straw for Udet. On 17 November 1941, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Hilmer Freiherr von Bülow
Hilmer Kuno Ernst Freiherr von Bülow (July 26, 1883 in Bückeburg ;†January 7, 1966 in Celle ) was a German officer , last lieutenant general in the Air Force in the Second World War, and a military writer.
- General der Flieger Bernhard Kühl
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