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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 recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He was captured in May 1945 and was released in 1947.
Theodor “Theo” Osterkamp, 15 April 1892 – 2 January 1975, was a German fighter pilot during World War I and World War II. A flying ace, he achieved 32 victories in World War I. In World War II, he led Jagdgeschwader 51 through the Battle of Britain and claimed a further 6 victories, in the process becoming one of only a few men to score victories in both world wars.
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 leads 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.
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.
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 recognize 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.
Richard Schimpf, 16 May 1897 – 30 December 1972, was a paratroop general in the Luftwaffe of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He joined the post-war West German Air Force in 1957 and retired in 1962 as a Generalmajor.
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 recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Ludwig Schulz was captured by American troops in May 1945 and was released in 1947.
Generalmajor Carl-Alfred (August) Schumacher, 19 February 1896 – Rheine – 22 May 1967 at Bad Godesberg, was a German military officer and politician. During World War II, Schumacher served in the German Luftwaffe, commanding the Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) fighter wing. After World War II, Schumacher was an active politician and elected member of the Landtag in Lower Saxony from 1951–1963.
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 recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Wilhelm Speidel, born July 8, 1895, in Metzingen, † June 3, 1970, in Nürtingen, was a German officer, last General of the aviators in World War II. He was sentenced in 1948 in the hostage murder trial, one of Nuremberg successor trials, for acts in his time as military commander Greece to 20 years imprisonment, but released in early 1951. Wilhelm Speidel’s younger brother Hans Speidel was central to West German rearmament.
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 recognize 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 recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He was the last living general of the Wehrmacht.
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.
Walther Wever, 11 November 1887 – 3 June 1936, was a pre-World War II Luftwaffe Commander. He was an early proponent of the theory of strategic bombing as a means to wage war while opposing the theories of Giulio Douhet. He died in an air crash in 1936.
- General der Flieger Bernhard Kühl