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Chris0382
03-18-2007, 06:53 AM
http://www.tarrif.net/wwii/interviews/johannes_steinhoff.htm

I came across this interview while doing a google on chivalry and found it very interesting.

This interview first appeared in World War II magazine in February 2000. It has been re-printed on this website with the permission of Military History magazine with the understanding that it is not for profit. I highly encourage you to subscribe to World War II magazine in order to provide the sort of support needed to produce future articles of this quality.

I N T E R V I E W

LUFTWAFFE EAGLE JOHANNES STEINHOFF

By Colin D. Heaton

Johannes Steinhoff was truly one of the most charmed fighter pilots in the Luftwaffe. His exploits became legendary though his wartime career ended tragically. Steinhoff served in combat from the first days of the war through April 1945. He flew more than 900 missions and engaged in aerial combat in over 200 sorties, operating from the Western and Eastern fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean theater. Victor over 176 opponents, Steinhoff was himself shot down a dozen times and wounded once. Yet he always emerged from his crippled and destroyed aircraft in high spirits. He opted to ride his aircraft down on nearly every occasion, never trusting parachutes.

Steinhoff lived through lengthy exposure to combat, loss of friends and comrades, the reversal of fortune as the tide turned against Germany, and political dramas that would have broken the strongest of men. Pilots such as Steinhoff, Hannes Trautloft, Adolf Galland and many others fought not only Allied aviators but also their own corrupt leadership, which was willing to sacrifice Germany's best and bravest to further personal and political agendas. In both arenas, they fought a war of survival.

Aces like Steinhoff risked death every day to defend their nation and, by voicing their opposition to the unbelievable decisions of the Third Reich high command, risked their careers and even their lives. Steinhoff was at the forefront of the fighter pilots' revolt of January 1945, when Galland was replaced as general of fighters. A group of the most decorated and valiant Luftwaffe leaders confronted the Luftwaffe commander and deputy Führer, Reichsmarschall Herman Göing, with a list of demands for the survival of their service. Their main concern was the Reichsmarschall's lack of understanding and unwillingness to support his pilots against accusations of cowardice and treason. They were being blamed for Germany's misfortunes. Steinhoff's frankness got him threatened with court-martial and banished to Italy, with similar penalties imposed upon others in the mutiny.

Steinhoff's recovery from injuries suffered during a near-fatal crash in a Messerschmitt Me-262 jet near the end of the war again illustrated his strength of will and character and his amazing ability to overcome all that life could throw at him. His story is an inspiring tale of moral and personal courage. Steinhoff died in February 1994, shortly after this interview. He is survived by two brothers, Bernd and Wolf Steinhoff, his widow Ursula, and his daughter Ursula Steinhoff Bird, wife of retired Colorado State Senator Michael Bird. During the interview, Steinhoff spoke candidly about many topics, including the war, his superiors and his philosophy about his country's role in the postwar period following the collapse of the Third Reich.

WWII: When and where were you born, General?

Steinhoff: I was born in Bottendorf, Thuringia, on September 15, 1913. This is a region in the middle of Germany.

WWII: Describe your family, childhood and education.

Steinhoff: My father was a mill worker, mostly agricultural work, while my mother was a traditional housewife. She was truly a wonderful lady. My youngest brother, Bernd, is an engineer and lives in Columbus, Ohio, in the United States. My other brother, Wolf, is a doctor, and he lives here in Germany. I have two sisters, one living in Germany and the other deceased. With regard to my education, I attended Gymnasium, which is a little more involved than your traditional high school, where I studied the classics and languages such as French, English, Latin and Greek. It was truly a classical education that later served me well.

WWII: Your English is impeccable. How did you perfect it?

Steinhoff: I really picked up most of my English in the countryside and during the war, speaking to captured aviators and such. After the war I went to school to become more fluent.

WWII: What made you want to become a fighter pilot?

Steinhoff: Well, I studied how to become a teacher, in order to educate people, but with the conditions in Germany at that time when I was a young man I wanted to work but could not find a job. I then joined the armed forces and enlisted in the navy, where I served for one year. I was in the navy with another friend of ours, Dietrich Hrabak, and we both became naval aviation cadets. Later, we were both transferred to the Luftwaffe after Göing became the commander in chief.

WWII: When did you start flying?

Steinhoff: That was in 1935, along with Hrabak, Trautloft, Galland, [Gunther] Lützow and many others. We trained at the same school and became friends with many other flight students, most of whom became very successful and highly decorated aces. Unfortunately, not all of them survived the war, and every year we lose someone else.

WWII: Describe your first combat. What was it like for you?

Steinhoff: It was late 1939, well after the Polish campaign, while I was assigned in Holland. We were flying against the Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers that were attacking coastal industry. That was long before the Battle of Britain, but I could see that things were going to get more difficult. I attacked a flight of Vickers Wellington bombers and shot one down. It was rather uneventful, but later I shot down two more over Wilhelmshaven, when I was Staffelkapitän of 10/JG.26 "Schlageter" [10th Staffel (Squadron) of Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing) 26] toward the end of 1939. I was then transferred to 4/JG.52 in February 1940, where I remained until the start of the French campaign and the Battle of Britain.

WWII: What was fighting on the Channel coast like?

Steinhoff: Well, the British were born fighters - very tough, well trained and very sportive. They were brave, and I never fought against better pilots at any time during the war, including the Americans.

WWII: What was the difference between fighting the Americans and the British?

Steinhoff: Well, first of all, when we fought the RAF, it was almost evenly matched in fighters against fighters, so true dogfights, even in the Schwarm [German fighter formation], were possible. That was the truest test of men and their machines, and only the best survived. You learned quickly, or you did not come back. When the Americans arrived, they came over in such force that by the time I arrived back from Russia to fight them, there was no opportunity to engage in that kind of sportive contest. Attacking hundreds of [Boeing] B-17 and [Consolidated] B-24 bombers with fighter escorts was not what I considered sportive, although I must admit it had many moments of excitement and sheer terror.

WWII: In your opinion, what was the reason for the Luftwaffe's failure to gain air superiority over Britain in 1940?

Steinhoff: There were several factors. First, there was the range limitation of our fighters. After arriving on station, we had about 20 minutes of combat time before we had to return home, and the British knew it. Second, we were sent on many bomber escort missions, which eliminated our advantage of speed and altitude, both of which are essential to a fighter pilot's success, and we therefore lost the element of surprise. Another factor was the British use of radar, which was a shock to us pilots, although our leadership knew about it. This early warning system allowed the British to concentrate their smaller force with greater flight time over the operational area, engaging us at the most vulnerable moments. Another problem which hindered our success was Göing, who would not allow the war to be prosecuted according to logic. One example was when he altered the Luftwaffe's targets from military and RAF targets to cities and docks, which proved disastrous in many ways.

WWII: How was it different fighting the British from the Soviets?
Steinhoff: The Soviets were disciplined, principled and somewhat intelligent, but not well trained in tactics. They were very brave for the most part, but unlike the British and Americans, they would break off combat after only a few minutes and a couple of rotations. The Soviet pilot was for the most part not a born fighter in the air.

WWII: From what I understand, all chivalry and sportsmanship was absent from the war in Russia; is that correct?

Steinhoff: Absolutely correct. In fighting the Soviets, we fought an apparatus, not a human being--that was the difference. There was no flexibility in their tactical orientation, no individual freedom of action, and in that way they were a little stupid. If we shot down the leader in a Soviet fighter group, the rest were simply sitting ducks, waiting to be taken out.

WWII: Ivan Kozhedub, the top Allied ace of the war, once stated that, when he fought against the Luftwaffe, the German pilots seemed to work better as a team, whereas the Soviets applied only a single method of combat, which he tried to change. Do you agree?

Steinhoff: Yes, that, too, is correct. We fought as a team from the beginning. We had excellent training schools and great combat leaders from the Spanish Civil War, as well as the early campaigns in Poland and the West, who led by example. We really teamed our trade during the Battle of Britain, and that knowledge saved many German lives.

WWII: Why was the Russian Front such a hardship, since the Western Allies initially had much better aircraft and pilots?

Steinhoff: Well, the Soviet pilots did get better. In fact, there were some hotshot pilots formed in the famous Red Banner units, which had some of the best pilots in the world. I fought against them in the Crimea and Caucasus later. But to answer your question, the hardest thing about the Russian Front was the weather, that damned cold. The second thing, and probably the most important, was the knowledge that if you were shot down or wounded and became a prisoner of war--that is, if they did not kill you first--you would have it very bad. There was no mutual respect. You were safe only on your side of the lines. The Soviets did not treat our men very well after they were captured, but then again as we have learned, the Soviets we captured did not always fare well either, which was unfortunate. At least in fighting against the Americans and British, we understood that there was a similar culture, a professional respect. But with the Soviets, this was unheard of. It was a totally different war.

WWII: So, unlike the British and Americans, the Soviets did not treat fellow pilots and officers as gentlemen?

Steinhoff: It was definitely not there. There was no mutual respect. The Americans and British treated us as gentlemen, as we did our enemy pilots when they were captured. The Soviets had no concept of chivalry as a whole.

WWII: How did the Russian winter affect operations?

Steinhoff: Oh, it was very difficult. In many cases we had no operations. The cold would freeze all machinery and moving parts. Sometimes we could not fly because the snow was piled so high that we had no way to remove it. It was very poor weather, and navigation was absolutely impossible. This and the cold were the greatest handicaps. That was absolutely the worst time.

WWII: Some of the men you flew with became legends. For instance, in 1940 in France you commanded a young pilot named Hans-Joachim Marseille. What do you remember about him?

Steinhoff: Marseille was in my wing, 4/JG.52, just before the Battle of Britain and was there shortly after it started. I was his squadron leader, and I watched him. I knew he was a brilliant guy, very intelligent, very quick and aggressive, but he spent too much time looking for the girls, and his mind was not always on operations. He actually had to be taken off flight status on more than one occasion because he was so exhausted from his nights on the town, if you know what I mean.

WWII: So you would say he was a playboy?

Steinhoff: He was the perfect playboy, but a real fighter. But he was an individual, not a team player. He had seven victories when I fired him, not because he was not good, but because he was shot down four times while getting those victories. He had no concept of Rottenflieger [i.e., a wingman's responsibility], and many men did not want to fly with him as their wingman, which is very bad for morale. I thought the best thing for him was to transfer him away from the women, and he became a legend in North Africa, of course, winning the Diamonds [to the Knight's Cross] and scoring 158 victories. He was a true character and was the epitome of the First World War fighter pilot, but we were not fighting the First World War.

WWII: I know this is difficult, but which of the men you flew with, in your opinion, became the best leaders?

Steinhoff: That would be impossible to answer, as we never had any really bad fighter leaders. You could not reach that position if you were not tested and deemed competent.

WWII: You later took over command of JG.77 in the Mediterranean after the death of Joachim Muencheberg on March 23, 1943. Did you know him also?

Steinhoff: Yes, he was very good and an outstanding leader, very successful. He was killed when his Me-109 lost a wing in combat over Tunisia, fighting against the Americans. I took over the unit, which I had served in before, as you already know.

WWII: You had many meetings with Göing. What was your personal opinion of his leadership of the Luftwaffe?

Steinhoff: Göing was a good, brilliant leader before the war started. He was a great ace from the first war, and he was very energetic and important in the buildup of the Luftwaffe in the 1930s, but during the Battle of Britain he became lazy. Göing started collecting his artwork, diamonds and precious stones and was no longer interested in the operation of the Luftwaffe. Toward the end of the war he was a nuisance, and I personally hated him. Many pilots died needlessly because of him, killed before they were able to lead. I went with Galland, Latzow, Trautloft and others to Berlin to see General Robert Ritter von Greim to have Göing removed and replaced, but this did not happen. Greim told us in January 1945 that it was too late, and that Adolf Hitler would never remove one of his oldest and most loyal friends from his post. This was what eventually led to the fighters' revolt against Göing, and he threatened to court-martial me and told Lützow that he would be shot for treason. Hitler ordered me, or rather banished me, to Italy for my own safety along with Lützow, and Trautloft was sent packing back to the East. Galland was replaced as General der Jagdflieger [general of fighters] by Colonel Gordon Gollob, who was a competent fighter and leader, but was a fervent supporter of Hitler and a nasty little man who was hated by almost everyone, including me. Needless to say, none of us Kommodores were very enthusiastic about it, and we refused to accept it. All of the leaders remained loyal to Galland and stayed in contact with him, which infuriated Gollob and Göing, since it showed that the highest ranking and most decorated men in the fighter force were still going to do things their way.

WWII: I have been informed by all of the alte Karneraden [old comrades] that Gollob was an egomaniac who was marginally capable as a leader but did not gain the trust of his men. Is that true?
Steinhoff: Well, I will say this, then I will say nothing else about Gollob. Losses soared under his leadership everywhere he went, much like Göing in the first war. He placed leaders in command of units not because of their competence, but due to their loyalty to the Nazi Party, which were very few in the Jagdwaffe [fighter arm].

WWII: Do you feel that Galland's appointment as general of the fighters was good for the service, and if so, why?

Steinhoff: Definitely. Galland was a very energetic man, a strong leader and great fighter, successful, loyal to his men and a most honorable and honest gentleman. He was never awed by Hitler or swayed by Göing, and he always answered truthfully when they questioned him on any subject, regardless of how unpopular the truth might have been. Galland was a visionary who knew how to turn the tide in the air war and how to rebuild the fighter force, but his standing beside his pilots against Göing and Hitler, as well as many others, gave Hitler cause to replace him, which was a bad mistake. Honesty in Berlin was not always fashionable.

WWII: Tell about the occasions on which you met Hitler-what was your impression of him?

Steinhoff: I first met Hitler around September 3, 1942, when he awarded me the Oak Leaves [to the Knight's Cross]. He asked those of us present about the war, which we were supposed to be winning, and what we thought about the new territory being incorporated into the Reich in the east.

I mentioned something to the effect that "I hope the Führer will not become too attached to it, because I don't think we will be taking up long-term residence." He looked at me as if he was going to suffer a stroke. When he asked me to clarify my statement, I simply told him that since the United States had entered the war, and they, along with Britain, were supplying Russia, and we had no method of attacking their industry beyond the Urals, I did not think we would keep making great gains. He sat silent for a moment, then said something like, "We will finish Russia soon, and turn our attentions to the West once again. They will see that supporting Bolshevism is not to their benefit." And then we were dismissed. I met with him again outside Stalingrad a few weeks later when he toured the front. He told me: "Now I have Russia, now I have the Caucasus. I am going to penetrate the River Volga; then after that the rest of Russia will be mine." I remember looking at the others around us and thinking that this guy was nuts!

I met Hitler the next time on July 28, 1944, when I received the Swords to the Knight's Cross. That was a week after the bomb plot to kill him, and he was not the same man, perhaps more withdrawn and living in a fantasy where the war was concerned. All I wanted was to get my medals and get the hell out of there. I could not stand him. Well, the next time I was summoned to Hitler we Kommodores were in Berlin to meet with him and Göing just prior to the revolt. He was pacing back and forth, mumbling about the weapons we had, how we would show the Allies a thing or two, and so on. It was very depressing to know that our country was in the hands of this madman and the lunatics around him. You know, after the July 20 plot to kill him, we were never allowed in his presence with our side arms, which was a part of our service uniform. He trusted no one.

WWII: Do you feel that Hitler was indifferent to the plight of his people, the soldiers and the situation he created for himself?

Steinhoff: Yes, as you said, the situation he created for himself. He could have cared less about anyone else. But it was our fate to pay for his crimes, and Germany will never live that down.

WWII: It is my understanding that despite the abuses hurled at the Luftwaffe by Göing and Hitler, the fighter force did have sup-porters among the Wehrmacht. For instance, General Hasso von Manteuffel stated many times that his panzer troops could have gained nothing if not for the Luftwaffe and that, without the industry to produce aircraft and the schools and leaders to train new pilots, the war was lost. Albert Speer also agreed. What is your opinion?

Steinhoff: They were absolutely correct, but we were receiving the blame, and most of it came from Göing, hence the revolt. He made all of the grand promises, and he boasted to Hitler that his men could accomplish anything at any time. Unfortunately, he did not consult us before he made these grand overtures.

WWII: What, if any, changes did you see after the United States entered the war, and what was your opinion about it?

Steinhoff: When this happened we were in the middle of the first Russian winter, and we were too busy to think about it. I was just south of Moscow when I heard the news. However, it later penetrated my mind that this was a decisive step. The Americans had tremendous willpower and an unmatched industrial capacity for building big bombers, fighters, ships and so on. It was more or less the end of the war--only time determined how long we would survive.

WWII: You transferred to the Western Front after a couple of years in Russia and the Mediterranean. How was fighting in the West then different from your experiences in 1940?

Steinhoff: Well, I can tell you, as soon as I took over command of JG.77 I was shot down on my first mission while attacking B-24 Liberators, and I knew right then that it was a totally different war from 1940. I also realized, as my plane tumbled out of control and I took to my parachute for the first and last time, just how much I had forgotten. It was different fighting the Soviets as opposed to the combined British and American forces, even though the Soviets outnumbered us even more. The Western Allies had improved their already first-rate equipment. I had also forgotten how flexible they were and how they could alter their tactics to fit the situation and orchestrate brilliant attacks.

WWII: Why did the high command not consult the Kommodores and fighter leadership, who had the knowledge and experience, before implementing these absurd orders and recommendations?

Steinhoff: That is a question you historians will continue to ask long after we are all dead. I think that the mentality in Berlin was one of pride and ego. But at that time it was too late anyway.

WWII: From your wide experience, which aircraft was the most difficult to attack?

Steinhoff: The B-17 Flying Fortress without a doubt. They flew in defensive boxes, a heavy defensive formation, and with all of their heavy .50-caliber machine guns they were dangerous to approach. We finally adopted the head-on attack pioneered by Egon Mayer and Georg Peter Eder, but only a few experts could do this successfully, and it took nerves of steel. Then you also had the long-range fighter escorts, which made life difficult, until we flew the Me-262 jets armed with four 30mm cannon and 24 R4M rockets. Then we could blast huge holes in even the tightest formation from outside the range of their defensive fire, inflict damage, then come around and finish off the cripples with cannon fire.

WWII: Please describe your humorous encounter with a Lockheed P-38 pilot named Widen in Italy in 1944.

Steinhoff: This is a good story. I was test-flying an Me-109 with my aide near our base at Foggia. This was before I had been exiled from Germany, during my first tour as Kommodore of JG.77. Well, we were attacked at low level by a flight of P-38 Lightnings, about 100 American fighters in all, but the two of us figured, why not attack? We turned into them, and I flew through their formation going in the opposite direction, getting good strikes on a couple of them. I poured a good burst into this P-38 and the pilot rolled over, and I saw him bail out. I had this on gun camera also. Well, he was picked up and made a POW, and I invited him to my tent for a drink and dinner, as well as to spend the night. We drank some of the local wine... and drank and drank. I thought to myself, "What am I going to do with this guy?" Well, it was long after midnight, so I lay down in my tent and stretched my legs so I could reach his head. He woke up and said, "Don't worry, I won't run away, you have my word as an officer and a gentleman. Besides, you got me too drunk." We slept, and he kept his word, and I never placed a guard on him.

WWII: So you subdued your opponent with alcohol?

Steinhoff: Yes, that's right, and it worked very well, you know. He was a very likable man, and I was very pleased to have the victory, but as I told him, I was even more pleased to see him uninjured and safe.

WWII: Of all the Allied fighters you encountered, which was the most difficult to handle with a good pilot at the controls?

Steinhoff: The Lightning. It was fast, low profiled and a fantastic fighter, and a real danger when it was above you. It was only vulnerable if you were behind it, a little below and closing fast, or turning into it, but on the attack it was a tremendous aircraft. One shot me down from long range in 1944. That would be the one, although the P-51 [Mustang] was deadly because of the long range, and it could cover any air base in Europe. This made things difficult, especially later when flying the jets.

WWII: How did you get stuck as the recruiting officer for JV44?

Steinhoff: Well, after the death of [Walter] Nowotny, I took over command of JG.7 in December 1944, after the jets were dispersed to individual wings. I chose various squadron leaders, such as [Erich] Rudorffer, [Gerhard] Barkhorn, [Heinz] Baer and others. After Operation Bodenplatte and the fighters' revolt, I was, of course, sent back to Italy and fired from my job with the jets. Galland recalled me when he had permission from Hitler to create his own "Squadron of Experts," which was not the original intent, but this is the way it worked out. Galland gave me full authorization to scrounge and recruit the best pilots possible. I went to every bar and recreation hall, even a few hospitals and forward units, until I had about 17 or so volunteers, with more on the way. The list was impressive, and among this group were two or three inexperienced jet pilots, but they showed promise.

WWII: So the Squadron of Experts was just that?

Steinhoff: Yes, most of us had many kills, and nine of us had over 100 victories, and a couple, such as Baer, had over 200, and Barkhorn had 300. Everyone except a couple had the Knight's Cross or higher decorations and hundreds of missions, and most were senior officers led by a squadron leader with the rank of lieutenant general. It was quite a unit, and I don't think there will ever be another one like it.

WWII: Were the tactics pretty much the same with JV44 as with JG.7, or were there differences in attack strategy?

Steinhoff: Pretty much the same, I would say. The only significant difference was that we could pretty much create our own tactics on the spot to counter any new threat, whereas in conventional units you had to wait for a recommendation to be approved, and then the tactics authorized, which wasted valuable time. We found that attacking from the flank, entering the enemy formation from the side and attacking with rockets, brought many good results. It was like blasting geese with a shotgun. Attacking from the rear was also good, although targets offered a lower profile. When attacking from the side, we would lead the bombers a little, fire the rockets, then pull up or away and swing around for a rear pass on the survivors, where we fired our 30mm cannon. This would shred the bombers' wings or explode their bombs. Against fighters, one cannon shell was usually sufficient to bring it down.

WWII: Do you feel that the Me-262, if produced in larger numbers earlier, would have had any effect on the war?

Steinhoff: This is a very good and difficult question. Even if the jets were built in greater numbers, we did not have the trained pilots, or even the fuel. It was too late in the war, and we could not win. However, if we'd had the jets in 1943, things would have been different, I am sure, but that was not to be. That was our fate.

WWII: I spoke to Hajo Herrmann, who thought that the debate over the Me-262 between bomber and fighter commands was nonsense. He said that even though arguments could be made in favor of its use as either a fighter or a bomber, it should have been focused on as a fighter so late in the war. How do you feel about that debate?

Steinhoff: It was only possible to use the jet airplane as a fighter, as Galland was able to prove later in the war. This is right, because it was too late.

WWII: What did you think of the possibility of Heinrich Himmler and the SS taking over the operational control of the jets?

Steinhoff: Oh, yes, we were aware of this, but that was an insane idea. That was nonsense, it was not possible. The training time required and the personnel made it unfeasible. It was simply nonsense.

WWII: After the fighters' revolt, how did the fighter pilots feel about the war? What was their morale like?

Steinhoff: Gunther Lützow, Galland, Traut-loft and myself, as well as many others, were deeply involved. We were upset because the Luftwaffe was torn to pieces. Morale was very poor, Galland was standing all alone, and the importance of the fighters was negligible. It was a very bad time.

WWII: How many times were you shot down during the war?

Steinhoff: I was shot down 12 times. In the 13th incident I almost died from a crash.

WWII: How many times did you bail out?

Steinhoff: I only bailed out once. I never trusted the parachutes. I always landed my damaged planes, hoping not to get bounced on the way down when I lost power. I was wounded only once lightly, but never seriously until my crash.

WWII: Tell us about that near-fatal crash.

Steinhoff: Many writers have covered that, but hardly anyone ever asked me about it, except for Raymond Toliver, so here is the true story. I was taking off in formation on April 18, 1945, for my 900th mission. Galland was leading the flight, which included Gerhard Barkhorn, [Klaus] Neumann, [Eduard] Schallmoser, [Ernst] Fahrmann and myself. We were to fly formation and engage an American bomber formation. Our airfield had suffered some damage over the last several days due to Allied bombing and strafing attacks, and as my jet was picking up speed, the left undercarriage struck a poorly patched crater. I lost the wheel, and the plane jumped perhaps a meter into the air, so I tried to raise the remaining right wheel. I was too low to abort takeoff, and my speed had not increased enough to facilitate takeoff. I knew as I came toward the end of the runway that I was going to crash. The 262 hit with a great thump, then a fire broke out in the cockpit as it skidded to a stop. I tried to unfasten my belts when an explosion rocked the plane, and I felt an intense heat. My 24 R4M rockets had exploded, and the fuel was burning me alive. I remember popping the canopy and jumping out, flames all around me, and I fell down and began to roll. The explosions continued, and the concussion was deafening, knocking the down as I tried to get up and run away. I cannot describe the pain.

WWII: After you escaped from the plane, you were taken to the hospital?

Steinhoff: Yes, sure. They thought I would die. Even the surgeons had no idea that I would survive, but I tricked them.

WWII: For years afterward you continued to have surgery to correct the damage. Could you tell us about that?

Steinhoff: In 1969 a British doctor, a plastic surgeon, made new eyelids for me from the skin on my forearm. From the time of the crash until this time I could not close my eyes, so I wore dark glasses to protect them. I had dozens of surgeries over the years, and I recently had a heart bypass, as you know, which delayed our interview. I am now full of spare parts, you could say.

WWII: You still meet frequently with many of your friends and former enemies. Do you look forward to these gatherings?

Steinhoff: Yes. I used to meet with [Douglas] Bader, [Robert Stanford] Tuck and Johnny Johnson quite frequently, as well as many American aces such as [Francis] Gabreski, [Hubert] Zemke and others. We are all old men, wiser and appreciative that no one holds anyone to blame for anything. We are a small fraternity, and we are all good friends.

WWII: How many victories did you have confirmed during the war?

Steinhoff: I had 176 victories, with seven in the jet.

WWII: Well, all of your old comrades and former enemies respect you greatly, including Hajo Herrmann, who came to see you in the hospital after the crash. You knew him, didn't you?

Steinhoff: Yes, I met him once or twice. I knew who he was. He was a good man.

WWII: You finally retired in the 1970s after many decades of service. How did you get involved with the Bundesluftwaf fe after the war?

Steinhoff: That is a long story, but a good one. I spent two years in the hospital after the crash, and I was still in my bed when I was approached by Trautloft and others. They convinced me that I could do much more outside the hospital than inside, so I decided to once again wear a uniform. The Communist threat was still a large factor, and as years went by we saw the Cold War more clearly than you in America did. It was right next door to us.

WWII: You have written several successful books about the war, and you are internationally famous and highly respected. How do you spend your time today in retirement?

Steinhoff: I used to go on many speaking engagements, traveling as you know to all of the seminars, speaking to young people and telling them about what we did. I like meeting young people. They are the future, and we should take care of them.

WWII: Soon you will celebrate your 80th birthday. What advice do you have for the younger generations today?

Steinhoff: Oh, that is a very good question. I would tell them this: Love your country and fight for your country. Believe in truth, and that is enough.

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mrsiCkstar
03-18-2007, 07:55 AM
very nice! thanks for sharing!

Heliopause
03-18-2007, 08:12 AM
Nice reading, thanks.

FlatSpinMan
03-18-2007, 08:18 AM
Very good read. Thanks a lot.

JG14_Josf
03-18-2007, 12:21 PM
http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/P/0306805944.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20_SCLZZZZZZZ_.gif

By Johannes Steinhoff , Peter Pechel, Dennis Showalter (http://www.amazon.com/Voices-Third-Reich-Oral-History/dp/0306805944)

The 'talk' offered by Gabby Gabreski during the Warbirds convention awhile back was very similar to the message in that book linked above.

Responsibility is one thing; accountability is another. When both are the same, then, good things tend to happen. When both are opposite, then, madmen lead the military.

Ignoring the lessons of history can be irresponsible no?

Chris0382
03-18-2007, 12:39 PM
"Ignoring the lessons of history can be irresponsible no?"

Just as bad is forgetting history as it could comeback and repeat its self.

I have a feeling Galland knew if he was a cool axis pilot he could survive the war and be respected by the allies afterwards. He had a lot of inside info and he seemed to not be in denial of the wars outcome.

rugame
03-18-2007, 04:24 PM
Thanks, a very interesting read

woofiedog
03-18-2007, 09:13 PM
Extremely Good article... Thank's for posting.

Waldo.Pepper
03-18-2007, 10:21 PM
corrupt leadership, which was willing to sacrifice Germany's best and bravest to further personal and political agendas.

My how times of changed.

Blutarski2004
03-19-2007, 05:50 AM
WWII: Of all the Allied fighters you encountered, which was the most difficult to handle with a good pilot at the controls?

Steinhoff: The Lightning. It was fast, low profiled and a fantastic fighter, and a real danger when it was above you. It was only vulnerable if you were behind it, a little below and closing fast, or turning into it, but on the attack it was a tremendous aircraft. One shot me down from long range in 1944. That would be the one, although the P-51 [Mustang] was deadly because of the long range, and it could cover any air base in Europe.



..... How interesting.

Vipez-
03-19-2007, 10:00 AM
Yup we really don't have the advantage for fighters with long range in the game..

Nice interview anyway http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

PraetorHonoris
03-19-2007, 10:21 AM
Steinhoff also told in his memoirs (Messerschmitts over Sicily) that his 109, an early G6 without any boost, was faster than the P-38. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

The interview is old, but still great. Steinhoff is the only German WWII pilot, who's name is honorably given to a German fighter wing today.

Cold_Gambler
03-19-2007, 11:21 AM
Fantastic interview. Very interesting.
Thanks for posting it here http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Xiolablu3
03-19-2007, 11:30 AM
Very good read, thanks http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Interesting that he thinks of the Lightning as the most dangerous plane he faced.

I would have liked to hear a little more about the planes he flew and faced rather than the politics, but good read nonetheless. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Blutarski2004
03-19-2007, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by PraetorHonoris:
Steinhoff is the only German WWII pilot, who's name is honorably given to a German fighter wing today.


..... There's Richthofen as well.

FliegerAas
03-19-2007, 12:52 PM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by PraetorHonoris:
Steinhoff is the only German WWII pilot, who's name is honorably given to a German fighter wing today.


..... There's Richthofen as well. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

WWII http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Blutarski2004
03-20-2007, 06:38 AM
Originally posted by FliegerAas:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by PraetorHonoris:
Steinhoff is the only German WWII pilot, who's name is honorably given to a German fighter wing today.


..... There's Richthofen as well. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

WWII http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>



..... Got me fair & square on that one!

HotelBushranger
03-21-2007, 06:10 AM
Steinhoff: In 1969 a British doctor, a plastic surgeon, made new eyelids for me from the skin on my forearm. From the time of the crash until this time I could not close my eyes, so I wore dark glasses to protect them. I had dozens of surgeries over the years, and I recently had a heart bypass, as you know, which delayed our interview. I am now full of spare parts, you could say.

Man, 24 years without eyelids!!?! That man is a survivor ~S~

Vike
03-21-2007, 07:28 AM
Originally posted by Blutarski:

..... How interesting.

LOL Blutarski,don't forget to mention this http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif


Originally posted by Chris0382:

WWII: Please describe your humorous encounter with a Lockheed P-38 pilot named Widen in Italy in 1944.

Steinhoff: This is a good story. I was test-flying an Me-109 with my aide near our base at Foggia. This was before I had been exiled from Germany, during my first tour as Kommodore of JG.77. Well, we were attacked at low level by a flight of P-38 Lightnings, about 100 American fighters in all, but the two of us figured, why not attack? We turned into them, and I flew through their formation going in the opposite direction, getting good strikes on a couple of them. I poured a good burst into this P-38 and the pilot rolled over, and I saw him bail out. I had this on gun camera also. Well, he was picked up and made a POW, and I invited him to my tent for a drink and dinner, as well as to spend the night. We drank some of the local wine... and drank and drank. I thought to myself, "What am I going to do with this guy?" Well, it was long after midnight, so I lay down in my tent and stretched my legs so I could reach his head. He woke up and said, "Don't worry, I won't run away, you have my word as an officer and a gentleman. Besides, you got me too drunk." We slept, and he kept his word, and I never placed a guard on him.

Isn't it MORE interesting? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif


Originally posted by Chris0382:

At least in fighting against the Americans and British, we understood that there was a similar culture, a professional respect. But with the Soviets, this was unheard of. It was a totally different war.

This is indeed what i noticed when looking numerous German Luftwaffe photos,i mean relax and natural behaviour,exactly like americans pilots http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Thanks for sharing this! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

@+

SithSpeeder
03-21-2007, 10:27 PM
Excellent read. Its reads like this that really make the Luftwaffe more relatable. It was interesting to read about how few (in his opinion) were truly nazis and such.

* _54th_Speeder *

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 12:31 AM
A good read, and thanks for posting that interview. Very interesting.

I don't want to turn this into a flame fest, but I am a little concerned by some of the misty-eyed responses to this interview.

The Luftwaffe was the most ideologically indoctrinated of the three German services, not the least. Remember who was their Commander in Chief? That's right, Head of the Five Year Plan, Prussian Minister of Police and founder of the Gestapo, Hermann-look-at-me-I'm-the-Fuehrer's-nominated-successor-Goering.

At the Luftwaffe's inception, it had no existing General Staff, and no tradition of one. The leadership had to be drafted in from the army, and with a few exceptions, senior leaders were chosen for their loyalty. Good examples of this include Jeschonnek and ˜Smiling' Albert Kesselring. Again, it is as well to remember that one didn't have to be an out-and-out Jew-baiting mass murderer to be a fervent Nazi. They were expected to – and did – ensure their Nazi sympathies were projected and promulgated down the line. Leaders really set the tone. It beggars belief to suppose that junior officers, trained under the Nazis, and promoted during the early war years – like Galland and Steinhoff – were not basically ˜sound fellas' as the Brits of a slightly earlier age would have put it.

On the ˜lack of respect' from the Soviets for captured Germans, it bears remembering that the Nazis not only started the war against the USSR, they also fomented the ideological conditions in their armed forces that ensured there would be massive atrocities. The Nazi leadership, including the entire leadership of the Wehrmacht, were involved in the planning of a campaign with explicitly murderous intent. The Army's Chief of Staff, Franz Halder, recorded in his own notes that Hitler had decreed the war in the East would be a ˜war of extermination'. This was not hyperbole or exaggeration. The evil swine meant it, and the military leadership went along like the tame puppies they they'd become. Halder didn't note the ˜war of extermination' comment with surprise, much less in protest. He simply noted it as one of the defining features of the coming war.

We should also remember the way this criminal intent was carried out on the ground. Not only did Himmler's Einsatzgruppen roam the newly occupied territories, murdering Jews, gypsies and anybody deemed a ˜communist'. Some of the Army commanders actively encouraged acts of rapine and violence against the civilian population. Reichenau, commander of the Sixth Army, is one that springs to mind. Even Manstein, somehow sainted after the war, didn't scruple to pass on and amplify the murderous and illegal ˜Commissar Order'.

As some of the German military commanders themselves pointed out, this abuse of the civilian population made no military sense. It took people who were quite happy to see the back of Stalin and his murdering henchmen, and brutalized them until –perforce – they became the staunchest fighters against the Nazi invaders. Explicitly categorizing most of the population as sub-human gave them no option but to resist.

In these circumstances it's not surprising that the Soviets did not regard this as a ˜sportive' exercise. How can you ˜sportively' fight an enemy who doesn't even acknowledge that you are a human being? How could you even begin to think about ˜chivalry' with an enemy who regards you as a sub-human automaton?

I take Steinhoff at his word, and I think he was expressing his honestly held views and memories. What we have to remember, however, is that Steinhoff was a product of his time. He grew to adulthood under Hitler. He received promotion under Hitler. He was part of an ideologically driven Wehrmacht that invaded the USSR (not to mention Poland in 1939!). As part of that force, he was as indoctrinated as the rest. ˜We have been returning their fire since dawn!' went the first German wartime broadcast on 1 Sep 1939. Steinhoff and his colleagues were bombarded with this stuff until 1945. In my view, Steinhoff was just reflecting the views of his generation of soldiers. You'll find the same views in Knocke's book, too. Knocke shot down a Spit and was pleading for the pilot to jump, but he strafed ˜Ivans' with positive glee in contrast.

The Russians and all the slavs were de-humanised by eight years of Nazi propaganda, and the behaviour of the Wehrmacht reflected that dehumanisation. Steinhoff was implicitly reflecting it again in that interview. I know that will upset some people, but I can think of no other explanation for how an otherwise rational and admirable man like Johannes Steinhoff could be puzzled that the Soviets didn't treat captured Germans with respect.

cheers,
Ratsack

HotelBushranger
03-22-2007, 01:59 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/agreepost.gif

Kurfurst__
03-22-2007, 05:28 AM
Originally posted by Ratsack:

In these circumstances it's not surprising that the Soviets did not regard this as a ˜sportive' exercise. How can you ˜sportively' fight an enemy who doesn't even acknowledge that you are a human being? How could you even begin to think about ˜chivalry' with an enemy who regards you as a sub-human automaton?

The problem with the theory you suggest, which is basically that the Soviet brutality was just a response to the brutality they received first, and they just 'hit back' - an excuse, basically. That is completely false, as there were plenty of brutality and lack of "sportive" attitude shown by the Red Army from the very first days of the Russian campaign (and before, in Finnland etc.).

Certainly it was not a reaction.

May I remind you that USSR refused to even officially acknowladge international treaties regarding civillians and PoWs well before the war. The USSR hardly showed any respect or pity to the enemy, or to it's own people for that matter, and it's hard to expect people brought up in Stalinist brutality to be capable of showing such. It didn't need the Wehrmacht to start attrocities to develop it's own willingness to commit attrocities - it's an awfully poor excuse to blame it all on the invading Wehrmacht, when there are dozens of documented cases of captured WM PoWs being found dead, after being tortured, body parts cut off and murdered in June 1941 already.

It certainly went both ways in a sort of spiral of 'brutality' - soldiers would find bodies of their own men, captured, tortured, executed. So in response they also took no prisoners. The news spread again on the other side, reaction would follow. And while it would be wrong to deny the brutalising effect of the Wehrmact's attrocities, combined with Soviet propaganda that revolved around simple to understand messages like 'kill the fascist beast' on the simple Soviet grunt, may I call up your dear attention that there's also another side of that coin, that worked on the simple Wehrmacht grunt from day 1, where he had to witness that Soviets handle German PoWs with unseen brutality he had not seen in his previous campaigns. I dare to say the combined effect of Red Army attrocities, seeing how Soviets treated their own men and people (somehow I fail to feel any compassion to Commissar fates, I doubt Russians themselves did have much compassion for them either), seeing the general poverty and extremely primitive conditions in much rural Russia, and social conseqences of being brought up under such conditions, all this was IMHO much more influentative on the avarage Wehrmacht soldier's willingness to act brutally than any sort of propaganda he may have been fed with, compared to his Soviet counterpart.

The 'poor victim' card is also odd to play out in the case of USSR, even with the very slightest knowladge of it's foreign policy between 1939-1941, particularly in regard of Molotov's talks in Berlin in November 1940, it's very odd.

"He was part of an ideologically driven Wehrmacht that invaded the USSR (not to mention Poland in 1939!). As part of that force, he was as indoctrinated as the rest."

'Ideologically driven' and co, care to show something convincing that in fact this was the case, that a whole multi-million Army was 'ideologically driven' and 'indoctrinated' etc. Many of them certainly were - does this means we are speaking of a large, homogenous, brainwashed horde that no longer thinks, acts, or feels independantly? It's awfully silly to think so, but I find it very similiar to the views expressed in some old, wartime propaganda animated movies created by Walt Disney.

The irony of all, that while you speak in lenght about the subject using terms like 'ideologically driven' and 'indoctrinated' etc., you pretty much do nothing here except than repeating the 1940s wartime propaganda that was fed to the public to demonize The Enemy.

It's a preconception, and you bother the least yourself about the actual human beings, who actually experienced the era saying otherwise, since, goes the circular logic, they can say they themselves weren't indoctrinated if they want, but this can be dismissed happily on the basis that they were 'product of his time', i.e. everyone was indoctrinated. The logic is flawed at it's roots. What you are doing is setting up a theory, then reverse-engineer the 'facts' that would support the theory, ie. :

'The Russians and all the slavs were de-humanised by eight years of Nazi propaganda'
'Steinhoff and his colleagues were bombarded with this stuff until 1945.'

Got any source on this, have you even bothered to read any actual work on how the official course of propaganda changed during the years of war and peace, according to political realities, or it is just a 'feeling' you probably gathered from god-knows-where, typically movies or popular books? Does Steinhoff actually mentions he was 'bombarded' with 'this stuff', or that he or his comrades ever took that stuff seriously? Or is it just that assume that should have been something that way, so it actually was in that way.

To me it appears your castle is built on a foundation of sand, that sand being general preconception and generalisations, held together by a glue of circular logic.

Bewolf
03-22-2007, 05:58 AM
I actually agree to what Kurfürst said here. The Wehrmacht in the east was not a kindergarten consisting of little angels, that is a given. But neither were the russians.


That said, on both sides, it often weren't frontline untis committing atrocities. Neither on the german nor on the russian side, but the following untits.

I also have to say, my understanding and feelings of guilt as a german for what we did in russia came to an end when I had a talk with one of my grand uncles. He served on the eastern front and got captured in Stalingrad. He was one of the few who returned.

So this all is pretty much a double edged sword and though it definately is the german side to blame, as they attacked the russians, not vice versa, talking one sided of attrocities and giving the russians the benefit of the "eye for an eye" apology does not give the soldiers involved back then any justice, especially the grunts who had not say in the descisions made higher up.

One last note, despite Göing beeing the Leader of the Luftwaffe, it was by far not the most introctinated branch of the Wehrmacht. That was the army. The swastika on the tails of german aircraft are a sign of Göings brown nosing to Hitler, not a statement by the regular pilots. There were even a unit reomving the swastica from its tail in protest against Göing. I can't remember the JG right now, but I am sure others can point it out more clearly and the reasons for that.

The Luftwaffe also was one of the harshest opponents to the Wehrmacht Leadership and its descisions. Another point is the high number of former Luftwaffe personal in the later Bundeswehr. Hardly a sign for a thourough Nazi cadre there.

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 06:20 AM
Kurfurst,

I did not say that Nazi atrocities wash away Soviet guilt. On the contrary, I specifically referred to Stalin and his murdering henchmen. I did not say that Soviet atrocities were purely a reaction to Nazi bestiality.

Regarding the sources for my views on this, they are many. To help you position my argument, I am not some Johnny-come-lately WWII plane enthusiast. I am an historian by inclination and by training. I have researched this topic deeply over a very long period, going back to when I was 10 years old. My research is by no means restricted to ˜1940s propaganda'.

Just to repeat the key part of my previous post, I do not find it in the least surprising that the Soviets showed little mercy. I do find it interesting and informative that a German soldier, who served through the war from beginning to end, might find that Soviet attitude surprising. The views of that soldier give us interesting clues to the mindset of the times: glimpses of a past that we don't have to experience ourselves, thank goodness.

I am not going to descend into some sordid debate based on the preposterous proposition that German atrocities absolve Soviet atrocities, or vice versa. I made no such assertion, so I'm not going to dignify that canard any further with a more expansive response.

Cheers,
Ratsack

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 06:38 AM
Beowulf,


Originally posted by Bewolf:
...One last note, despite Göing beeing the Leader of the Luftwaffe, it was by far not the most introctinated branch of the Wehrmacht. That was the army. ...

I disagree with you here. The Army was its own locus of power between the wars, and right up until the sacking of Beck. Its tacit support was one of the things Hitler was buying with the murder of the SA leadership in 1934. That power gave the Army a certain independence from direct Nazi interference until much later. The early prestige of the Army should not be underestimated, particularly in light of the fact that in the event of war, it would be the Army that would ensure the immediate survival of land-locked Germany, not the Kriegsmarine or Luftwaffe.

In contrast, the Luftwaffe was subject to direct political interference from the very beginning. For evidence of this we need look no further than the four key figures in the short life of the Luftwaffe: Erhard Mich; Ernst Udet, Jeschonnek; and Goering himself. They are all either card carrying Nazis or, in the case of Jeschonnek, a fervid professional disciple of Hitler. The Luftwaffe had the second-ranking Nazi as Commander in Chief, and a Hitlerite sycophant – albeit a very talented one – as Chief of Staff. This cannot have failed to have a critical effect on the fledgling airforce.

I've got quite a bit more on this, but I don't think this board is a particularly useful place to discuss it, unfortunately. Worse, most of my library is in storage 3,000 km away so I'm relying on memory, the net and the small collection I have to hand.

I'd be happy to discuss this further by PM or via a private topic. Out here, it'll only go south, I fear.

Cheers,
Ratsack

Hkuusela
03-22-2007, 06:45 AM
I really don't see that Steinhoff seems puzzled. He simply states a fact and says there was no mutual respect. He also tells that Germans did not treat their own prisoners well. Furthermore he gives full credit to the enemy where it deseerves it, people he - according to you - considers sub human. I don't think he's passing judgement on anybody or trying to hide anything.

The Nazi leadership, including the entire leadership of the Wehrmacht, were involved in the planning of a campaign with explicitly murderous intent. --- He was part of an ideologically driven Wehrmacht that invaded the USSR (not to mention Poland in 1939!). As part of that force, he was as indoctrinated as the rest.

I find this appalling. I thought we were over demonizing the Germans.

TgD Thunderbolt56
03-22-2007, 06:52 AM
I think the interview is interesting and a compelling read. Without a doubt, I would say some of the memories (and opinionated statements) were, and are, influenced by the last 60 years.

The previous posts by Kurfurst and Ratsack, both delve into some of the political and behavioral aspects of a generation faced with years of war. The fact is...war really IS hell (I know, newsflash!) and not only the Eastern Front, but the PTO reflect this as well as anyhting ever has.

"macky" Steinhoff speaks English, was married to a US Senator's daughter and, in hindsight, is obviously able to understand events of the past better than he could ever have understood them then.

Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it.


TB

JG14_Josf
03-22-2007, 07:01 AM
I find this appalling. I thought we were over demonizing the Germans.

Invading other countries for their oil fields or 'whatever' under the indoctrination of National Interests can easily sweep people up in that propaganda 'campaign'.

For some it takes living through HELL to admit their own errors in judgment.

For others a simple trust in hard earned wisdom is enough.

A sign of trouble could be the continuous repetition of lies meant to demonize or create ˜the bad guys' so that all the ˜good guys' can rally against those ˜bad guys' built upon a pile of lies.

Papers; please

Good read (http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1970/solzhenitsyn-lecture.html)

Blutarski2004
03-22-2007, 07:20 AM
Originally posted by Ratsack:
The Luftwaffe was the most ideologically indoctrinated of the three German services, not the least. Remember who was their Commander in Chief? That's right, Head of the Five Year Plan, Prussian Minister of Police and founder of the Gestapo, Hermann-look-at-me-I'm-the-Fuehrer's-nominated-successor-Goering.


..... I'd suggest that the SS, an organization of uniquely Nazi parentage and quite separate and distinct from the rest of the Wehrmacht, by far held pride of place as the most highly ideologically indoctrinated arm of the German armed forces. The Army, the LW, and the KM all possessed strong organizational memories and mores from pre-Nazi days of imperial service. Perhaps their appointed senior leaderships were "reliable Nazis", but the case is difficult to press uniformly with respect to the rest of the officer corps.




At the Luftwaffe's inception, it had no existing General Staff, and no tradition of one. The leadership had to be drafted in from the army, and with a few exceptions, senior leaders were chosen for their loyalty. Good examples of this include Jeschonnek and ˜Smiling' Albert Kesselring.


..... An unfair assessment. The LW had no general staff for the same reason that the KM and the army had none. The German General Staff by long tradition was a separate and superior organization which oversaw and coordinated the various arms of the Wehrmacht in much the same manner as the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As for the leadership of the LW, von Seeckt founded in 1920 the "secret air force" which ultimately became the LW. It was he who enlisted Felme, Sperrle, Wever, Kesselring, Student, and Stumpff into LW service long before Hitler's 1933 accession to power. Milch (ex-WW1 Flying Corps officer) pre-dated Goering and Hitler. Almost all the high-ranking senior officers of the wartime LW had been enlisted and trained BEFORE 1933. The enlistment of senior army officers into LW staff positions occurred due to a shortage of ex-WW1 fliers with the necessary staff experience.



..... As for the Eastern Front animosities, I would only point out that Nazi Germany was not the only ideologically driven totalitarian regime at war in the East. Judging from the murderous behavior of the Soviets in Poland (Katyn Forest being but one example) and in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, it is difficult to accept that harsh and murderous Soviet behavior you discuss was solely a reaction to German/Nazi atrocities. So far as I can see from the record, the Soviet regime was itself quite capable of equally ugly practices with no outside provocation whatsoever.

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 07:50 AM
Hkuusela,

You have mis-read my post.



Originally posted by Hkuusela:
... Furthermore he gives full credit to the enemy where it deseerves it, people he - according to you - considers sub human. I don't think he's passing judgement on anybody or trying to hide anything.

1. I did not say Steinhoff considered the Russians and slavs sub-human. I said the Nazis did. I then wrote of what that violent, state-sponsored racism would've meant to a Soviet soldier.

2. I said that I take Steinhoff at his word. I most definitely did not say I thought he was hiding something.



Originally posted by Hkuusela:
The Nazi leadership, including the entire leadership of the Wehrmacht, were involved in the planning of a campaign with explicitly murderous intent. --- He was part of an ideologically driven Wehrmacht that invaded the USSR (not to mention Poland in 1939!). As part of that force, he was as indoctrinated as the rest.

I find this appalling. I thought we were over demonizing the Germans.

I am unsure what appalls you here. If it is the callousness of the Nazi leadership, I have made my point.

If you are appalled that I say Steinhoff was as indoctrinated as the rest, consider what that indoctrination would mean. For a start, I do not mean that all of those subjected to it became frothing-at-the-mouth Nazis. What I do mean is that their thinking would've been profoundly affected by it.

Steinhoff himself alludes to this effect in The Last Chance, (Arrow, London, 1979). He talks about his disillusionment when he returned to Germany for Reich Defense duty, and how the real effects of the war at home were hidden from them at the front. It is actually on p. 19 of my copy that he recounts the story of a Tiger tank crewman (one of his fellow burn victims), driving past Gleiwitz. His comrade says:

Earlier in the day I had caught a glimpse of the Gleiwitz radio mast and had been haunted ever since by the thought that this was where the war had started ("We've been answering their fire since 5 a.m.!"*).

The footnote from that asterisk reads: 'As Hitler broadcast to the nation very early in teh morning of his attack on Poland (J.S).'

If you are unaware of Steinhoff's ironic reference here, it is this. The Nazis organized for the bodies of Polish soldiers to found at the Gleiwitz station, as part of Goebbels 'proof' that the Poles had attacked them and the German invasion was in self defense. The 'Polish' soldiers were actually concentration camp inmates who were specifically murdered for the exercise, and then dressed in fake uniforms and placed on the scene for the docile press.

This sort of propaganda must have had an effect on the soldiers. Again, to let Steinhoff speak for himself, in the introduction to The Last Chance he says:

When it finally dawned on us - far too late: our education had seen to that - that our generation had been ushered into a wanton and criminal war, we were faced squarely with the problem of military insubordination.

This is on p. 9.

To be clear, I am not saying that Steinhoff himself, much less every German soldier, was a rabid Nazi. What I am saying is that these young men were subjected to the most ferocious and sustained campaign of propaganda and indoctrination that the world had seen to that time. They were profoundly affected by it, and it helped contribute to the sort of fanaticism that made the German armed forces so dangerous.

Imagine for a moment that it is July 1941 and you are a 19 year old man. You were born in 1922. You were 10 years old, going 11 when Hitler came to power. Since that time, you've been subjected to the constant themes of Bolshevik menace - inextricably linked with the Jewish menace - martial honour, and racial struggle. These are the years of higher education and team sports. Social development and strong friendships. Girls. The Nazis inherited the most wonderful youth group movement in Europe (probably in the world), and they thoroughly Nazified it, and you passed straight through it and into the Army. You've been brought up to believe in the infallibility of the Grofaz (Hitler), the moral and historical right of Greater Germany, and the imminent menace of the Asiatic hordes. You'd been wondering why the Fuehrer made a pact with Stalin, but now you see it was part of his genius.

Do I need to go on, or do you get the picture? What I'm getting at is that this sort of indoctrination is quite capable of turning a perfectly reasonable, essentially good person into an a willing accomplice in mass murder.

The end result is ghastly to behold, and we all shake our heads in wonder at how human beings could so cruel. But the fact is that they got there in small steps, one step at a time. Evil is banal.

cheers,
Ratsack

Chris0382
03-22-2007, 08:14 AM
I just want to mention as we discussed in an earlier thread that Stalin was the less of 2 evils and both Hitler and Stalin were very unjust.

Stalins deeds:

1- purges killed millions including top miliitary leaders.
2-War with Finland interrupting Germanys mineral, nickle and metal ore supplies (angered Hitler).
3- takeover of Lithuania, Lativia, and Estonia. Was this just.
4-Invasion of part of Romania threatening the oil fields that supplied Germany (worried Hitler).
5-Taking 1/2 of Poland in co-hoots with Germany against the Versilles treaty that created a new independent Poland after WWI (PLEASE CORRECT if wrong here).

If you ask me, Hitler and Stalin deserved each other and war between them may have been inevitable at some time.

Hkuusela
03-22-2007, 08:37 AM
But you do say that Soviets were fighting an enemy that did not consider them human beings and that Steinhoff was as indoctrinated as the rest. So what should one think of this?

To be clear, I am not saying that Steinhoff himself, much less every German soldier, was a rabid Nazi.

That's nice to hear, but it doesn't excactly become obvious reading your original post. Quite the contrary.

Imagine for a moment that it is July 1941 and you are a 19 year old man.

I could do that. However Steinhoff was already 20 when Hitler came to power. And after all, this thread was about Steinhoff, not about the whole German war machine and it's undisputable crimes. And I don't think that the German army consisted solely of 19 year olds. People in any age group react diffenrently to propaganda too.

Do I need to go on, or do you get the picture? What I'm getting at is that this sort of indoctrination is quite capable of turning a perfectly reasonable, essentially good person into an a willing accomplice in mass murder.

And this is the indoctrination you are talking about? That every German was made a potentially willing accomplice in mass murder (since - according to you - they were evenly indoctrinated)? Quite frankly, I think it might be better if you didn't explain yourself any further.

Chris0382
03-22-2007, 09:09 AM
I also should add France and GB signed off on Hitlers annexing part of Czechozlovakia and this encouraged hitler as so did the fact ther had been other cases of genocide that the world turned a blinde eye on. We have to blame ourselves abit for not taking action. We only realized we forgot to drain the swamp when we were up to our neck in crocodiles.

Vike
03-22-2007, 09:23 AM
Originally posted by Bewolf:

The swastika on the tails of german aircraft are a sign of Göings brown nosing to Hitler, not a statement by the regular pilots. There were even a unit reomving the swastica from its tail in protest against Göing. I can't remember the JG right now, but I am sure others can point it out more clearly and the reasons for that.

It was the JG53.
Here was the reason:

"While JG 53 was making a reputation for itself during the Battle of Britain, according to RAF Air Ministry intelligence summary no 60, Reichsmarshall Hermann Göing was informed that Major Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel's wife was Jewish. Göing then ordered the whole of Stab/JG 53[1] to remove the "Pik As" emblem from their planes, and replace it with a red stripe around the engine cowling as punishment. All of Stab./JG 53's planes immediately were stripped of their "Pik As" insignia, and soon after the whole of the Stab./JG53 had also stripped the swastikas off the tails of their planes, possibly in protest"

- Found here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JG_53) -

BTW,i wonder how would be treated a russian pilot who would like to stripe the red star on his plane tail http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif

Could this be possible,could a russian pilot/soldier protest? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif

@+

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 09:32 AM
Originally posted by Hkuusela:
But you do say that Soviets were fighting an enemy that did not consider them human beings and that Steinhoff was as indoctrinated as the rest. So what should one think of this?


What one should think of it is that it was explicitly the case. The intention of the Nazi invasion was explicitly and openly genocidal. Goering in particular is on record as saying that the aim was to seize the land and ship all the food to Germany, and who cares if a few million slavs die? This is historical fact, not my opinion. The crackpot racial theories of the Nazis are well documented. Please tell me that you're not saying you don't believe the Nazis thought of the 'Asiatic' races as sub-human?



Originally posted by Hkuusela:
... I could do that. However Steinhoff was already 20 when Hitler came to power...


Indeed, he was already 20 when the Nazis were appointed. And yet this same man goes on to say that his education (˜our education saw to that') left him and his colleagues unprepared to face a criminal regime and the lies it pedaled. He was one of the Luftwaffe's junior leaders. Imagine the plight of a callow 19 year old.




Originally posted by Hkuusela:
[I]Do I need to go on, or do you get the picture? What I'm getting at is that this sort of indoctrination is quite capable of turning a perfectly reasonable, essentially good person into an a willing accomplice in mass murder.

And this is the indoctrination you are talking about?


I suspect you're being deliberately obtuse here. Clearly, I was talking about the continuous propaganda of the Third Reich. They had complete control of the press, and used it ruthlessly. The results are well known.



Originally posted by Hkuusela:
That every German was made a potentially willing accomplice in mass murder (since - according to you - they were evenly indoctrinated)? Quite frankly, I think it might be better if you didn't explain yourself any further.

Again, I suspect you are deliberately misunderstanding me. I did not say every German. I said ˜a reasonable, essentially good person'. I specifically used the indefinite article. It was not just possible for the sort of propaganda and intensive education via the Hitler Youth (and the pre-HY organization for very young children, too: I can't remember its name off hand but you could easily Google it up), school and university to bring otherwise reasonable people into sympathy with the Nazi cause and philosophy. It is more than possible: it is a matter of historical fact that this in fact did happen, for a whole host of reasons. Large numbers of Germans became involved in atrocities, ranging from the Einsatzgruppen I mentioned before, to the SS, purely military crimes and most hideously of all, the Final Solution itself. A good number of these people were just thugs and sadists who would've relished the chance to do what they did. Every nationality has its share of these animals, and the Nazis made full use of theirs. However, a very significant proportion of the perpetrators of these crimes were perfectly respectable, middle-class officials, soldiers and bureaucrats who quietly and efficiently did the bidding of their evil masters. Remember Eichmann, for example.

As I said, evil is banal.

cheers,
Ratsack

JG14_Josf
03-22-2007, 09:40 AM
"While JG 53 was making a reputation for itself during the Battle of Britain, according to RAF Air Ministry intelligence summary no 60, Reichsmarshall Hermann Göing was informed that Major Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel's wife was Jewish. Göing then ordered the whole of Stab/JG 53[1] to remove the "Pik As" emblem from their planes, and replace it with a red stripe around the engine cowling as punishment. All of Stab./JG 53's planes immediately were stripped of their "Pik As" insignia, and soon after the whole of the Stab./JG53 had also stripped the swastikas off the tails of their planes, possibly in protest"

Thanks,

Blaming professional soldiers (who are trained to kill by any means whatsoever) for decisions made by politicians (who are trained to accumulate the power to direct the military by any means whatsoever) is a magnitude of error akin to blaming rape victims for being attractive.

In most of my reading of WWII history the professional military class abide by a military code of honor that is black and white; no room to wiggle whatsoever. The individual is responsible – end of story. If a lawful order is given, then, the individual must obey that order or die. If an un-lawful order is given, then, the individual must not obey that order or die.

Politicians pretend to make ˜law'.

I challenge anyone to pretend to know the difference between right and wrong better than an honorable professional solider who has survived combat.

I do not pretend to know what your judgment should be according to you; if you think that all Germans were Nazi's, then, you can go on thinking that lie and by all means propagate that falsehood to your heart's content; such a judgment speaks much more about you than anyone else.

The term is prejudice; to pre-judge. If the shoe fits – wear the shoe. If it doesn't fit – it doesn't fit.

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by JG14_Josf:
...If a lawful order is given, then, the individual must obey that order or die. If an un-lawful order is given, then, the individual must not obey that order or die.
...

Exactly. This is the reason that the reluctance of the German officer class to take action against the Nazis is an historical curiosity that requires some explanation. The standard defence of many passive accomplices in the Wehrmacht was that 'honour' made such action impossible. They usually point to the oath of loyalty made directly to Hitler himself after Hindenburg died.

This defence requires a strange conception of the meaning of the word 'honour'. It requires that is is more 'honourable' to follow an unlawful order to murder (for example) than to disobey the unlawful order.

This is not what I understand by the normal use of the word 'honour'.


cheers,
Ratsack

JG14_Josf
03-22-2007, 10:04 AM
Exactly. This is the reason that the reluctance of the German officer class to take action against the Nazis is an historical curiosity that requires some explanation.

Exactly,

The above is a classic example or pre-judgment or what I call the collective mentality disorder. Many individual German soldiers rejected an allegiance to anyone. Many examples can be found including the refusal by Hartmann to give up his pistol on the visit to get the diamonds. To group all German officers in a class and blame all officers in that class as being one and the same, all acting as one, is supportable with evidence or unsupportable as being nothing more than the propagation of prejudice.

If one individual in the "German officer" class puts a bomb next to the political madman, then, that individual could be deemed a traitor by some propagandists while other people may deem that individual act as a heroic stand on a military code of honor.

You are an individual and you don't have to abide by anyone else's version of the truth on that matter or any other matter whatsoever.

The propagandist will want you to think in terms of collective responsibility. Be my guest. How does it work for you?

Daiichidoku
03-22-2007, 10:30 AM
there is no armed force in the world that is uniformly comitted to one political or philosophical dogma

just as any cross-section of ANY communjity, there are always those who disagree, or evenactively undermine the "powers that be" due to personal choices and opinions

the LW probably had the highest ratio of nazis, compared to kreigsmarine and heersgruppe, excepting, of course, various SS and h i t l e r youth units

its likely that front line combat personnel rarely gave time to think politically, they had far more important things on the go

this would have been true on both sides, kommisars were reviled in the red army (for many reasons)....during the period late 44/early45, kommisars were stripped of power by stalin...all of the sudden, red army troops treated kommisars VERY differently than previously to that http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Hkuusela
03-22-2007, 10:31 AM
What one should think of it is that it was explicitly the case. The intention of the Nazi invasion was explicitly and openly genocidal.
But as indoctrinated as Steinhoff was - according to you - he did not think the Russians were sub human? Again, it just does not show from your post, but I'm perfectly willing to leave it at that. I'd just like to know what him being indoctrinated really means?

Please tell me that you're not saying you don't believe the Nazis thought of the 'Asiatic' races as sub-human?

I am saying that I am not willing to not give any German the benefit of the doubt.

I suspect you're being deliberately obtuse here. Clearly, I was talking about the continuous propaganda of the Third Reich.

Now I'm confused. The indoctrination, as you put it, lead to a perfectly reasonable German being a potentially willing participant in mass murder. Then you say, that Germans - Steinhoff included - were evenly indoctrinated (As part of that force, he was as indoctrinated as the rest.). Again I ask of you: What should one think of your posts? To me it says that the Germans were equally indoctrinated to be potentially willing participants in mass murder whether you meant it or not.

Again, I suspect you are deliberately misunderstanding me. I did not say every German. I said ˜a reasonable, essentially good person'. I specifically used the indefinite article. It was not just possible for the sort of propaganda and intensive education via the Hitler Youth (and the pre-HY organization for very young children, too: I can't remember its name off hand but you could easily Google it up), school and university to bring otherwise reasonable people into sympathy with the Nazi cause and philosophy. It is more than possible: it is a matter of historical fact that this in fact did happen, for a whole host of reasons. Large numbers of Germans became involved in atrocities, ranging from the Einsatzgruppen I mentioned before, to the SS, purely military crimes and most hideously of all, the Final Solution itself. A good number of these people were just thugs and sadists who would've relished the chance to do what they did. Every nationality has its share of these animals, and the Nazis made full use of theirs. However, a very significant proportion of the perpetrators of these crimes were perfectly respectable, middle-class officials, soldiers and bureaucrats who quietly and efficiently did the bidding of their evil masters. Remember Eichmann, for example.
I have harder and harder time making the connection to Steinhoff... After all, as I said earlier, this thread is about Steinhoff, not the crimes of the nazi regime, unless those two somehow meet.

You probably don't mean it, but your posts can be pretty easily interpreted as blaming Steinhoff simply for being a German in the Eastern Front. I think we should blame Mr Hitler for Steinhoff being a German in the Eastern Front.

I also think, that people, yes even Germans, are different. They don't think alike and they don't react to propaganda alike and I think that it is quite unfair to say so. That is not to say that they weren't affected by propaganda, of course they were! And there was not love lost between Germans and Russians. After all, they were at war against each other. But I'm not willing to overlook the shades of grey between black and white. And I am certain that amongst German soldiers there were black, grey and white people (no racial pun intended).

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 10:36 AM
Originally posted by JG14_Josf:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Exactly. This is the reason that the reluctance of the German officer class to take action against the Nazis is an historical curiosity that requires some explanation.

Exactly,

The above is a classic example or pre-judgment or what I call the collective mentality disorder. Many individual German soldiers rejected an allegiance to anyone. Many examples can be found including the refusal by Hartmann to give up his pistol on the visit to get the diamonds. To group all German officers in a class and blame all officers in that class as being one and the same, all acting as one, is supportable with evidence or unsupportable as being nothing more than the propagation of prejudice.

If one individual in the "German officer" class puts a bomb next to the political madman, then, that individual could be deemed a traitor by some propagandists while other people may deem that individual act as a heroic stand on a military code of honor.

You are an individual and you don't have to abide by anyone else's version of the truth on that matter or any other matter whatsoever.

The propagandist will want you to think in terms of collective responsibility. Be my guest. How does it work for you? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Your focus on collective responsibility is odd.

The officers of the German armed forces, as a class, were ordered to perform many illegal acts. They had more exposure to the criminality of the Nazi regime than most people in Germany. The had far more knowledge of it, too. They also had sole access to the means to stop it. This was not true of an individual Hausfrau, for example. This is why the inaction of the vast majority of the German officer class is interesting.

Why did the only people with access to the means to overthrow Hitler, almost to a man, not take up those means?

Quibbles about collective responsibility are irrelevant. This is not a court.

Ratsack

Ratsack
03-22-2007, 10:49 AM
Originally posted by Hkuusela:
...
I have harder and harder time making the connection to Steinhoff... After all, as I said earlier, this thread is about Steinhoff, not the crimes of the nazi regime, unless those two somehow meet.


As I said in my first post, I was concerned by some of the romanticism cropping up in posts made in response to the interview.



Originally posted by Hkuusela:
You probably don't mean it, but your posts can be pretty easily interpreted as blaming Steinhoff simply for being a German in the Eastern Front. I think we should blame Mr Hitler for Steinhoff being a German in the Eastern Front.....

To think that one would have to be either deliberately misreading my posts, or a very poor reader.

cheers,
Ratsack

ultraHun
03-22-2007, 10:55 AM
Why did the only people with access to the means to overthrow Hitler, almost to a man, not take up those means?

"... But what is a butcher supposed to do if you take his knife from him?", WOLFGANG OTT, "Sharks and Little Fish"

People who weren't there can only guess WHY, which is what is going on in this thread. Read Ott's book, please, both you teutophiles and you teutophobes alike, it's all in there.

Hkuusela
03-22-2007, 11:24 AM
Originally posted by Ratsack:
As I said in my first post, I was concerned by some of the romanticism cropping up in posts made in response to the interview. Yes, it is terrible that people would give respect to this... this... GERMAN! I read the posts and since you make no quotes, I can't find any romanticism in them. But then again, I'm just a poor reader, so...


Originally posted by Ratsack:
To think that one would have to be either deliberately misreading my posts, or a very poor reader. Yes, after all that MUST be it, must it not. Because there is no chance of your posts being unfounded and incoherent.

JG14_Josf
03-22-2007, 12:07 PM
Because there is no chance of your posts being unfounded and incoherent.

No chance whatsoever, of course, 'they' did it.

http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

tarrif
03-22-2007, 12:19 PM
I'm puzzled how an interview with one of Germany's politically neutral and most respected pilots can spark a debate on political ideology. I've been running my site for 7 years now, and if there's a few things I've learned its that all sides did awful things, some people will always be enemies, history is written by the victors, and war is hell.

Steinhoff, despite all of that, was a true gentleman. I also suggest reading the interview with Walter Krupinksi.

woofiedog
03-22-2007, 01:29 PM
http://ipmsstockholm.org/photos/profile_bf109_12.gif

Link: http://aeroweb.brooklyn.cuny.edu/database/aircraft/getimage.htm?id=9345

Messerschmitt Me 109E-3
Stab, JG53
Pilot: Major Hans-Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel (Geschwader Kommodore)
Thevile-Maupertus (Cherbourg-Ost), France, August 1940

This 109E-3 has an interesting story attached to the markings. Major von Cramon-Taubadel was married to a Jewish wife, a fact which came to the attention of Hermann Goering during the Battle of France. As a result he ordered that the whole of JG 53 must remove their famous Ace of Spades badge and paint a red band around the noses of their aircraft as a mark of shame. In the Autumn of 1940 von Cramon-Taubadel was removed as Geschwader Kommodore and Goering told them they could reinstate their "Pik-As" badge; this they did but at the same time, as a mark of protest, all the pilots of JG 53 had the Swastikas painted over on their aircraft. Thus it is easy to recognise JG 53 109's late in the Battle of Britain as they have no Swastikas on them.

This profile shows Major von Cramon-Taubadel's aircraft with the red band marking when the Geschwader were operating from Cherbourg and the Channel Islands during the Battle of Britain. The basic camouflage is a splinter pattern of RLM70 Schwarzgr�n and RLM02 Grau over RLM65 Hellblau sides and underneath with RLM02 Grau mottling on the sides. The cross, although of the larger size, still has the thinner white edges.

The usual oil, fuel, and first-aid kit markings are all present. The propeller spinner and Kommodore's markings are in black, the latter outlined white. Prop blades were RLM70.

ViktorViktor
03-23-2007, 05:14 AM
You know, it would be interesting to find out what sort of treatment the Finns and the Soviets gave/received during the war.

As far as I know the Finnish military was not led/controlled by Nazis, so it might shed some light on the Russian/German 'no quarter given' attitude towards each other, if we found out if the Finns had the same attitude. And if the Russians behaved with the same brutality against the Finns as they did against the Germans.

Hkuusela
03-23-2007, 06:55 AM
Originally posted by ViktorViktor:
You know, it would be interesting to find out what sort of treatment the Finns and the Soviets gave/received during the war.

As far as I know the Finnish military was not led/controlled by Nazis, so it might shed some light on the Russian/German 'no quarter given' attitude towards each other, if we found out if the Finns had the same attitude. And if the Russians behaved with the same brutality against the Finns as they did against the Germans. Some Finnish units (if I say one division, I probably am not far off) were under German leadership during - what in Finland is called - the Continuation War and IIRC this arrangement was changed sometime during the war. However, there was none of that no-prisoners-taken mentality as on the German front. I understand this also applys to the German part of the Finnish front (in the north of Finland). I am sad to say, that approximately one third of the Russian POW's died during their captivity in Finnish POW camps. This was largely due to the difficult food situation in the country as the whole nation was starving. Part of the poor conditions in the camps were unfortunately due to the indifferent attitude of the POW officials.

Of the Finnish POW's one third was also killed. This probably does not tell the whole story of the treatment of the Finnish POW's, as a lot of the Finns were captured during the Russian major assault in the summer of 1944, close to the end of the war, so they did not have a great risk of starving to death.

As for the treatment of POW's in the hands of the soldiers that captured them, I don't think there were any large scale attrocities or systematic ill treatment on either side. It might be, that it was understood, that the Finns fought the war for their own objectives and not for racial or ideological destruction of slavs or communists.

cawimmer430
03-23-2007, 07:01 AM
Originally posted by woofiedog:
http://ipmsstockholm.org/photos/profile_bf109_12.gif

Link: http://aeroweb.brooklyn.cuny.edu/database/aircraft/getimage.htm?id=9345

Messerschmitt Me 109E-3
Stab, JG53
Pilot: Major Hans-Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel (Geschwader Kommodore)
Thevile-Maupertus (Cherbourg-Ost), France, August 1940

This 109E-3 has an interesting story attached to the markings. Major von Cramon-Taubadel was married to a Jewish wife, a fact which came to the attention of Hermann Goering during the Battle of France. As a result he ordered that the whole of JG 53 must remove their famous Ace of Spades badge and paint a red band around the noses of their aircraft as a mark of shame. In the Autumn of 1940 von Cramon-Taubadel was removed as Geschwader Kommodore and Goering told them they could reinstate their "Pik-As" badge; this they did but at the same time, as a mark of protest, all the pilots of JG 53 had the Swastikas painted over on their aircraft. Thus it is easy to recognise JG 53 109's late in the Battle of Britain as they have no Swastikas on them.

This profile shows Major von Cramon-Taubadel's aircraft with the red band marking when the Geschwader were operating from Cherbourg and the Channel Islands during the Battle of Britain. The basic camouflage is a splinter pattern of RLM70 Schwarzgr�n and RLM02 Grau over RLM65 Hellblau sides and underneath with RLM02 Grau mottling on the sides. The cross, although of the larger size, still has the thinner white edges.

The usual oil, fuel, and first-aid kit markings are all present. The propeller spinner and Kommodore's markings are in black, the latter outlined white. Prop blades were RLM70.

What happened to this pilot and wife? Did he survive? Did she survive? Was she spared somehow because she was married to a Luftwaffe pilot? Thanks. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

woofiedog
03-23-2007, 07:53 AM
I've been searching since first reading about this incident... but have come up short handed.

Hannes Trautloft was transferred in July of 1943 the staff of General der Jagflieger and participated in the famous Riot of the Pilots of Hunting of 1945; I finalize II GM with the graduation of Obersleutnant and obtained 57 credited kills, five of them in the Spanish Civil War. One got ready to the Bundesluftwaffe in 1957 with the degree of Brigadegeneral, retiring of the active service in 1970 with the degree of Generalleutnant. He died the 11 of January of 1995 near Munich.

Link: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=htt...l%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG (http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://tecnica-militar.fateback.com/aereo/JG-54.htm&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=6&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3DOberst%2BHans%2BTaubadel%26hl%3Den%26 sa%3DG)


http://aeroweb.brooklyn.cuny.edu/database/aircraft/showimage.php?id=9345
Bf-109E-3/E-4\'s of Stab.JG53, Battle of Britain, 1940

link: http://aeroweb.brooklyn.cuny.edu/database/aircraft/getimage.htm?id=9345

ViktorViktor
03-23-2007, 02:25 PM
Woofie, you mean Hans-Jürgen von Cramon Taubadel, not Hannes Trautloft, right ? Or else I'm lost.
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

woofiedog
03-23-2007, 02:34 PM
You might be right... Uhmmm. I'll make corrections. Sorry!