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The Blond Knight Of Germany

Descrição: Luftwaffe Ace




BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY Books by Raymond F. Toliver and Trevor J. Constable FIGHTER ACES HORRIDO! FIGHTER ACES OF THE LUFTWAFFE FIGHTER ACES OF USA HOLT HARTMANN VOM HIM MEL DAS WAREN DIE DEUTSCHEN ASSE 1939-1945 by Toliver THE INTERROGATOR by Constable COSMIC PULSE OF LIFE HIDDEN HEROES THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY RAYMOND TREVOR TOLIVER F. J. AND CONSTABLE AERO A division of TAB BOOKS Inc. PA 17214 Blue Ridge Summit, f i FIRST EDITION FIRST PRINTING Printed in the United States of America Reproduction or publication of the content in any manner, without express permission of the publisher, is prohibited. No liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information herein. © 1970 by Raymond F. Toliver and Trevor J. Constable. Epilogue and revisions © 1985 by Raymond F. Toliver and Trevor J. Constable. Copyright Library of Toliver, Congress Cataloging Raymond in Publication Data F. The blond knight of Germany. Bibliography: p. Includes index. 1. Hartmann, Erich, 1922- 2. Fighter pilots3. Germany. Luftwaffe— Biography. Germany— Biography. I. Constable, Trevor J. II. Title. UG626.2.H37T65 1985 ISBN 0-8168-4188-8 ISBN 0-8168-4189-6 (pbk.) 940.54 '4943 '0924 [BJ 85-18663 photographs are from the Erich Hartmann collection except those otherwise credited beneath the photo concerned. All Cover illustration by Harley Copic. for "Usch" who waited Contents INTRODUCTION by Lt. General Adolf Galland ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi AUTHORS' PREFACE xiii A HERO Two THE MAKING OF A MAN One CALIBER OF 111. M- P VP i Six Fioht Clglll Mi np > IIC I Ten L CI1 OAK LEAVES 78 TVi X 11 iIIrtpp 11 ICC n T7rv ii t*"t o o m r uuriccn F niccii ffppn r i Sixteen 64 OF FIGHTER 1VJ11 1 L/l\ WING v/1 X Tf 111 VJ 52 J~ FAMF AND SWORDS HAWKS 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS STAT TN Flpvpn 302nH WCIVC 32 48 r m. 15 WINNING HIS SPURS IN THE BEAR'S GRASP Spvpn ACES AV^L lJ 1 1 w TO WAR Pour VUl ix VICTORY 94 104 119 134 148 MUSTANGS 161 STTRRFNDFR 175 SOVTFT PRTSONFR 191 PFRSTIASTON AND PRFSSTTRF n /^DT\ /TXT A WAR CRIMINAL ITT A T 209 224 Eighteen THE SHAKHTY REVOLT RELEASE 255 Nineteen REBIRTH 269 EPILOGUE 288 Seventeen Twenty APPENDIX 238 290 Erich Hartmann's Victory Record 290 Types of Planes Flown by Hartmann 294 1 THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY Viii Movements of III Gruppe/ JG-5 2 295 Personal Data 296 Tops and Firsts— Luftwaffe, Luftwaffe Aces with WWII Top Decorations Hartmann's Handbook of Enemy Strength Glossary INDEX 297 298 299 3 1 321 Introduction By General Adolf Galland Lt. General of the Fighter en my me Erich Hartmann, I am I to write Raymond pay tribute in to fighter pilot of all time, who when I and Trevor life story this way to the top-scoring my command World War. "Bubi" Hartmann and I have been We have His desire to return to his during personal from ten years of Soviet con- he had joined JV-44 with me whole life might have been different. remarked that asked him in 1945, his J. of for several reasons. First of served under friends as well, ever since his release finement. F. Toliver an Introduction to the was happy to do so honored the Second 1941-1945 friends Colonel Constable asked all, Arm own if unit on the Eastern Front led to the personal disaster of his decade in Russian hands. Secondly, I story should find it especially appropriate that Erich be presented to the world Hartmann's by two American authors German fighter pilot fraternity respect for their integrity and fairness. Due largely to their previous two books, the accomplishments of the German fighter pilots in the Second World that we War have been historically recognized on an international I of the basis. Hartmann's world combat record of 352 conand his other achievements, are not only endorsed believe that Erich firmed victories, but also illuminated by Thirdly, there been set research. is down by We this book. the quality of Erich Hartmann's story as his American tactics, has friends after years of painstaking find not only a thorough account of developed his unique it but also an inspiring how Hartmann human drama. THE BLOND KNIG H*T OF GERMANY T X Wc meet not just another fighter pilot and soldier, but a man whose character was tested for ten and a half lonely years, during which he was stripped of his soldier's rights. Behind all this is the story of a lifelong love, something of which our troubled world stands in need. I a fighter pilot, and ing fighter pilot of ences. I history, tional I most remarkable book ever written about the more noteworthy because it is the lead- believe this to be the all all recommend and good time this who book has lived through these experi- as a worthy addition to aviation as a further contribution of the authors to interna- will and mutual understanding. have to say to the authors: "Please accept our thanks; we former fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe appreciate what you have done." ADOLF GALLAND Acknowledgments The authors wish to express their gratitude to a women whose and number of men book was assistance in the preparation of this The late German air historian, Hans-Otto Boehm Munich, who introduced the authors to each other and to indispensable. of Erich Hartmann, played an important part in bringing this story to the world public. German the assistant to Fighter Pilots' Association in Munich and onetime Hans-Otto Boehm, rendered signal translations of The Herr Hans Ring, Documentation Expert of services with his Boehm's work into English. assistance of Erich Hartmann's family has proved of also inestimable value. His wife Ursula (Usch)* and her mother, his brother Dr. Alfred have all German made Hartmann and his mother Elisabeth Hartmann substantial contributions to this book. fighter pilots, flight surgeons Numerous and other personnel of JG- them with hundreds of questions, and prisoners of the Soviet Union supplied painful reminiscences of the Russian jails. Heinrich "Bimmel" Mertens, Erich Hartmann's crew chief throughout his combat career, 52 allowed us to impose on many former German contributed from his unique perspective to this portrait of the world's A most successful fighter pilot. special accolade goes to that surviving made member of JG-52 who available the Daily Operational History of III/JG-52, after smuggling it out of the Eastern Zone of Germany. main nameless, but we are deeply in his debt for He must re- documentation that materially reduced our labors. An years effort to name all would undoubtedly unintentional omissions. those who have several pages, fill To all assisted in the past ten and there still who have helped would be therefore, we extend our heartfelt thanks. THE AUTHORS * Usch is pronounced Oosh, as in whoosh. t » Authors' Preface History has treated most air heroes generously. Nearly leading personalities achievements aviation's in recorded in detail brief new breed a modern and air heroes. of warrior native to the twentieth century, but also the only soldiers not effects of their generations, have been accorded pride of place among fighter pilots They were not only mass future for the all span have seen immersed inhuman in the warfare. Fighter aces were able to keep alive for a few brief decades, albeit in tenuous form, the Man-to-man encounters in now archaic concept of a fair fight. which individual martial ing spirit could affect the naval battles even as they skill fight- outcome disappeared from land and became the central elements of aerial combat. Chivalry thus found a modern echo among Romance and air fighters. inevitably surrounded the leading fighter aces of nations, because individual birdmen battling it out still all had the became mechanized mass murder— not only for the combatants, but also for women, children and the elderly. Aces like von Richthofen, Mannock, Fonck, Rickenbacker, Boelcke, Bong, Johnson, Galland and Bader potential for glorification while war itself have found fame, but missing from the famous until most successful fighter ace of all the nations and Hartmann of Germany. Hartmann is still practically unknown nearly century after the end of the Second World War. He now the all is the wars- Erich Erich a quarter of a is recognized, of course, within that devoted circle of air history buffs to whom the achievements of fighting airmen have almost the status of a religion, but even among the faithful there drama consummated Postwar events no in Erich Hartmann's less is only an inkling of the life and career. than postwar attitudes conspired against the telling of his story, even as they conspired against Erich Hart- mann the ex-soldier. With the hot war finished, he passed into THE BLOND KNIGHT OW GERMANY xiv Russian imprisonment and was years. illegally confined for ten and a half The postwar world went on without him. During this ordeal War he became an unseen and unheralded hero of the same Cold and change the that was in time to touch His lives of millions. lonely struggle against the Russian secret police, in the view of the authors, far eclipses anything he achieved His attainment of the staggering victories as a fighter pilot. tally of was the ultimate achievement by an German scores of the fighter pilots 352 confirmed aerial air fighter. The high were not well received on the Allied side in the postwar years, because their victory tallies ran in multiples of the best Allied totals. Explanations had to be found for victory totals that were by all Allied measure completely in- credible. and misunderstandings, Half-truths as well as outright false- hoods, were widely circulated in Allied countries in this regard, so that the man unwary allowed themselves scores German victory, to be convinced that the Ger- were questionable. Typical assertions were that the counted every engine on a downed pilots and that squadron victories scored by their squadrons. Wing in victory left tallies. the more the of the USAF full investiga- middle 1950s. no doubt of the authenticity of the German Furthermore, which the Luftwaffe credited to be far CO. England, undertook a tion of Luftwaffe scoring procedures in the This effort all Such apocrypha enjoyed wide currency until coauthor Colonel Toliver, then 20th Tactical Fighter aircraft as a leaders took personal credit for strict the meticulous under procedures victories to fighter pilots were found than the confirmation procedures of either USAAF in World War II or the RAF. The German victory con- firmation methods have been elaborately detailed in the authors' two previous books, Fighter Aces and Horridol Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe. The reader may therefore regard Erich Hartmann's 352 confirmed victories as a solid and verified achievement. The investigation of the German victory-accrediting procedures led in due course to a authors and Erich sian prisons about fell warm personal friendship between the Hartmann and farther his family. As his decade in Rus- behind him, he became able to this period of privation and diabolical cruelty. tell The more authors AUTHORS preface 9 XV became convinced, as this modest man was led to talk more and more of his experiences, that his story should be told, not only as an indictment of war, but as a clear warning of what awaits the world should it ever fall under the sway of the NKVD-type mind. COLONEL RAYMOND TREVOR Los Angeles, California 1985 J. F. CONSTABLE TOLIVER USAF (Ret.) f * Chapter One CALIBER OF A HERO The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. —General of the Army Douglas MacArthur E i g h t years after the end of the Second German ciated tle hope ex-soldiers in left in life. Camp Confined deep World War, the ema- Diaterka in the Urals had in Russia by a lit- vengeful still all rights as soldiers and human behomeland and deprived of every hu- Soviet government, stripped of ings, half-forgotten in their manizing influence, they were them believed they would men who were ever again see literally lost. Germany and Few of their loved ones. Their attitude to life rarely rose above a stoical apathy in the normal course of prison routine, but one October morning the rumored arrival of a certain German them with new hope. Major Erich Hartmann had the bereft prisoners. His was the barracks at Diaterka, and most prisoner of war charged special qualities of heart that could kindle again the vital fires arrival was successful fighter ace of all time, Erich the coveted Diamonds mind and of these haunted name whispered through whose in 1953, and the grim The Hartmann had won a signal event. to his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross- Germany's highest award. These external trappings of heroism meant little to the prisoners. Hartmann to them was the hero of bigger battles in their years-long struggle with the Soviet secret po- He was a symbol of resistance. His true measure as a man and leader lice. that unfolded upon revealed his arrival at Diaterka. itself in the scene The gaunt inmates of T THE BLOND KNIGHTt OF GERMANY 2 the prison camp dashed into the compound and pressed against the wire as a prison truck pulled up in a cloud of dust. As the choking pall subsided, the new arrivals watchful eyes of armed guards. A began getting down under the wiry, middle-sized man thatch of flaxen hair and piercing blue eyes stood out shambling group of prisoners "It's "It's him" with a among the in their shapeless convicts' clothes. croaked one of the prisoners hanging on the wire. Hartmann!" The scrawny mob behind waving and yelling the barrier burst into a ragged cheer, crowd at like the The blond man grinned and waved a home-town football match. at their spontaneous greeting and the cheering burst out anew. Nervous guards hustled Hart- mann and his fellow prisoners inside the inner wire barrier. armed Russians had heard about Hartmann, Germans they guarded at Diaterka, they knew that a real had come among them— one of the Soviet Union's most and problematical The too. Like the destitute leader prized prisoners. Erich Hartmann's implacable pattern of resistance, which took him several times to the brink of death in personal hunger strikes, had been crowned with an act of open rebellion the previous year at Shakhty. German ex-soldiers, classified as war criminals, were used as slaves in the Russian coal mines at Shakhty, and Erich Hartmann's refusal to lifted the spirits of every The story work had touched German off a little revolt that confined in Russia. was one to be savored by prisoners was impossible, and whose process of resisting their life own energies were for whom consumed dehumanization. escape in the daily The Russian duty crew inside the Shakhty camp had been overpowered, and Hartmann, released from solitary confinement by his comrades, spearheaded the drive for redress of the shocking condiofficer and his tions in the prisoners camp. He had coolheadedly dissuaded from escaping, and had asked instead commission to be appointed to investigate the for many German an international Shakhty slave camp. The outraged Russians had not dared to kill Hartmann, but they had sent him to solitary confinement in another camp at Novocherkassk. Some of his comrades in the Shakhty Revolt had been sent to Diaterka, bringing with them the story of the rebellion. A CALIBER OF A HERO maximum camp, Diaterka was under security the prisoners managed still 3 a roaring welcome rigid discipline, for but Hartmann. Located near Sverdlovsk in the Urals, Diaterka had a special German VIPs in German generals languished behind its with members of famous German families and "war compound, inner a prison within a prison, for Soviet clutches. Twelve wire, together criminals" like Erich Hartmann. In Russian eyes, the blond who got such a rousing welcome to the no longer own a soldier who had done his maximum security man pen was duty under the laws of his land and under the traditional codes of military service. His relentless antagonism toward the Soviet secret police led to his "conviction" as a war criminal in a Russian kangaroo court. Turned over to the Russians in 1945 by the U.S. Army tank unit to which he had surrendered with his Gruppe from Luftwaffe Fighter Wing 52, Hartmann steadfastly refused to work for the Soviets or with their East tinued through He German six years of threats, stooges. lures His resistance con- and attempted bribes. even resisted the supreme incentive of return to his family in Germany if he would work in his native land as a Soviet agent. Hartmann was never going to aid their cause, and they then brought him to trial as a war criminal, sentencing him to twenty-five years at hard labor. His After six years, the Soviets realized that response was to ask for a bullet. Soviet confinement was a prolonged and debilitating test of hu- German men from every walk of life were exposed to its soul-corroding rigors, and many succumbed. America is gathering its own experience today of these nightmares of confinement, with many of its sons, similarly branded as war criminals, in the man character. Communists. Even the seemingly indomitable Erich Hartmann had his breaking point, and those who endured Soviet jails for untold years are unanimous that everyone has a power of Asiatic breaking point under such inhuman conditions. Senior generals in Russia proved no stronger than privates, and indeed, were strated all the more pitiful no superiority over NKVD. when NCOs in they broke. Officers demon- meeting the challenge of the Age, experience, family background or education— the traditional forces dominant in the development of character and THE BLOND KNIGHT OF 'GERMANY 4 intellect— provided no protection against or little Those who survived the ordeal men who drew were men and for the longest time, from one of two main their strength Religion provided sources. in Russian prisons with a powerful per- Whether he held sonal bastion. best, disintegration. his religious faith as conviction or as a fanatic, the religious man could an abiding resist his cap- The other men who could maintain their integrity were those who had known an absolutely harmonious family life, and there- tors. fore had homes and marriages would endure. These armor of love. They were at once protected arcane energy. Erich Hartmann belonged to faith that their men wore a kind of and powered by this this latter group. His wife Ursula, whom he "Usch," was his spiritual and calls moral power source while he was under the Soviet yoke. She was the light in his soul black when the glory days of war vanished and the Russian imprisonment was drawn between him and veil of the rest of humanity. She never failed him, and she part of his achievements. Without her, is an integral he never would have sur- vived the Russian prisons for ten years, nor would he have wrought the miracle of his rebirth. By the common mann was not heel, consent of his fellow prisoners, Erich Hart- only one of the strongest but also one of an many down ruins in elite and men group of natural all under the Soviet leaders. With military regulations automatically German prisoners recognized only those naturally among them. The cream went to the swept away, the who rose Ger- leaders top in this natural process. Rank and decorations meant nothing, and neither did age or education. Tricks and gimmicks of leadership were of no value. In the Russian prisons there were worthless, traitorous generals and magnificent sergeants; indomitable privates rubbed shoulders with corrupt officers. manhood in The leaders who emerged were terms of character, will Barely twenty-three years hands, Erich He Hartmann old when he years German passed into Russian rose to the top despite his extreme youth. was able to sustain himself and many of more than ten the best of power and endurance. his countrymen for under conditions of almost indescribable CALIBER OF A HERO 5 physical and moral hardship. Rarely modern conditions, has a war hero been subjected to such pro- in history, and never under tracted efforts at his degradation. His survival of such an ordeal better verifies his heroic qualities than does his decorations. The wellsprings of Erich Hartmann's strength were reach of the NKVD. beyond the Their source lay in his family background, and native manhood, reinforced and overlaid by free upbringing the undying love of a beautiful woman—his wife. His personality combines the strengths of both his parents. His physician father was a quiet, decent man humans, and a penetrant, feeling for his fellow was written, is from airplanes flew whether it in was a gay, quiet philosophizing over a glass of beer his profession, while his Germany, before fitting and the wisdom to dare living and venturesome. Hartmann enjoyed as a relaxation wisdom still is young woman, a vibrant extrovert as a energetic, enterprising Dr. practical from modern men. His mother, who largely missing as this with the old-time European doctor's deep thing for a to know exuberant blonde wife had quite decided society woman to do. The willingness how far to go—key elements just making Erich Hartmann the most successful fighter pilot ever— are character traits derived from the qualities of his parents. These in and other inherited met and qualities own. talents that are distinctively his He mingled with individual has a will almost fierce in its drive to prevail and conquer. His directness in thought and word are disquieting to the pretender, inspiring to the timid and challenging to the valiant. an incorrigible individualist in an age of mass formity. To the marrow of his bones he sense of being the greatest of meeting all life's all is and con- a fighter, not only in the fighter aces, but also in terms of challenges head-on. "Gandy-dancing" around an incapable, even is effects He if his life issue is depended on something of which he it. He would be is a total fail- ure in the diplomatic service, with his punch-in-the-nose bluntness, but he is honest man easily as fair a sportsman and a lover of fair play. A fair man and an has nothing to fear from him, for he shakes hands as he locks horns. In an age with a diminishing regard play he is in some ways an anachronism, and for like the knights THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 6 he would rush of old to pick up a foe he had just knocked from the saddle. many enemy In aerial warfare as a flying soldier, he killed but he is another. incapable in everyday He His religion one of conscience and is man who a certain type of must not do may be who were so sustained in Rus- an extension of is As George Bernard Shaw once expressed fighting heart. is of consciously doing injury to life not religious in the formal sense, although he ad- is mired and respected the Germans sia. pilots, "There it: holds that there are certain things he in life, regardless of the cost to himself. called a religious his man. Or you may him call Such man a a gentleman." Erich Hartmann's code of conduct— his religion in a sense— is that he cannot be made to do anything he believes to be wrong, and he will not of himself do anything he knows to be wrong. This variant of the golden rule which admit convictions, to little gray in moral sense, probably inherited from pilots. his father, image he carried with him of His conviction that all would be well at has an old-time and the kind of a religion did for others never wavered, and was it Hartmann Erich fulfilled a who his beloved Usch. home, the mental picture peaceful hearth centered around what formal Was He In the Russian prisons, his spiritual forces found their focus in the he held of life. his black-and-white Truth that wins him the adoration of today's young feeling for German from arises him Usch his wife, did for survived. His faith in hundredfold. then, a self-centered individual, thinking only of himself and his Usch? Far from it. He actually never needed to expose himself to Russian jails. Right before the end of the war, General Seidemann ordered him to take a Messerschmitt fighter, leave Czechoslovakia and his unit, and Germany. His orders were fly back to central to surrender to the British. General Seidemann knew that the Russians would take vengeance on their aerial nemesis, and the order to fly to safety was the last order from higher HQ that Hartmann received during the war. The young, blond-haired major deliberately disobeyed this or- German der. Thousands old people— most of them of had become attached refugee civilians— women, children and relatives of men to this unit. Militarily, serving in his Gruppe, an order was an order, CALIBER OF HERO A 7 and he should have obeyed. be lieved to being. cost He accepted instead what he beofficer and human as a stayed with the defenseless civilians, a decision that him more than His modesty and blond eral He unavoidable duty as an his ten years of his much as is hair. Typically, life. a part of the whole man as his blue eyes he never told the authors about Gen- Seidemann's order in more than twelve years of friendship that The preceded the preparation of this book. from others. When asked about it, information came Hartmann merely shrugged. Unrelentingly hard against himself, he could find to forgive a man had comrade who caved in under Soviet his breaking point, and for some others— that was Erich Hartmann's view. it in his heart it pressure. Every came sooner than When fellow prisoners cracked up emotionally under such ultimate strain as a divorce in Germany, he gave of his strength to them back together. He could talk soothingly to them, or them back to reality. His hard way was his own, and not for absentia granted to a wife in pull slap other men When unless they chose, as a free act, to follow his lead. from Russia was secured by Chancellor Ade- his release nauer in 1955, there were still many German prisoners remaining in Russia. Many had preceded him to freedom in West Germany, and the occasion of his return to his native land was to be cele- brated by ex-P.O.W/s and their families. At the railroad station in Herleshausen, the there was a noisy sive celebration first he had touched free soil and exultant welcome. was planned He a decade, was told that a mas- later for Stuttgart, town of Weil im Schonbuch. The P.O.W. in near his associations home had or- ganized the gathering, and important public figures were scheduled to attend. Thin and gaunt, Hartmann was obviously moved. Then he surprised his welcomers by insisting that there be no such reception. He could not take part in such Newspapermen asked heartfelt welcome home from festivities. him why he would not accept the his fellow citizens of Stuttgart. "Because the Russians view from us. They might on hearing or reading of such a celebration, not to reany more German prisoners. I know the Russians well enough well decide, lease life differently THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 8 be fearful on to account for the continued imprisonment of this my countrymen in the Soviet Union. "When they are all home, then we Meanwhile, we must not will have the celebration. German rest until all soldiers held pris- oners in Russia are repatriated." His ten-year duel with the Soviet secret police intensified Erich Hartmann's native quality of directness, but he had his head-on nature long before the Russians got their hands on him. Forthright he speaks out loud and to a fault, clear in the presence of wrong. Even Reichsmarschall Goering, standing one rung below God when when He air the Nazis were in power, failed to overawe Erich the young ace visited his felt Hartmann Goering had perpetrated a wrongful mother near Juterborg when in January 1944, act. the defense of the Reich was suffering from a severe shortage of pilots rather borg when himself, fighter than planes. He landed at a fighter base near Juter- the weather was closing Only twenty-two in. he was struck by the extreme youth of the squadron based at the men come pilots in the was used to seeing young to his units in Russia, but these flyers looked scarcely more than high-school When He field. years old boys. he returned from his visit with his mother, he found that the squadron had been sent up into the foul weather that had started to close in when he landed a few hours previously. Their mission was to intercept a force of American bombers. ited training sters and even had crashed less practical fatally in the The or shooting at the bombers. With lim- experience, ten of the young- bad weather, without ever finding infuriated Blond Knight sat down a personal letter to Reichsmarschall Goering. and wrote Herr Reichsmarschall: on your orders, fighter units took off in vile weather in an effort to find and shoot down American bombers. The weather was so bad that I would have been unwilling to take off myself. The fighters you sent into the air never found the bombers and ten very young pilots and planes were lost without firing a shot at the enemy. Today from Some this airfield of the dead had less young pilots I talked to in this squadron than 80 hours' flying time. If who we cannot win are now against the CALIBER OF A HERO bombers 9 blue sky, then to send youngsters up to die in bad weather in nothing short of a criminal act. should wait until the skies are blue, and the bombers come, and then send everyone up to assault them at once, with some chance of success. It is disgraceful to waste young men's lives as has been done is We today. Yours faithfully, Captain E. Hartmann Wing Fighter Erich Hartmann sent the letter directly to Goering by regular The mail, including his full current address. gram tone and content of were sufficient to ensure punishment even for a lead- this missive ing ace. 52 The hailing next communication he got from Goering was a him as the most successful fighter pilot in the world. Probably Goering personally never saw the Blond Knight's but it tele- was written and mailed with the intention that letter, should it reach the Reichsmarschall. Because Erich Hartmann's of gruel as well as glory, and peace, the life has had and because he has been and sense hugely, has his mother's gaiety gatherings of friends, old comrades not him He man, and he is a boy who loves to when he went His boyishness or lad. He was full of to the Eastern fun then, and when Bubi Hartmann clowned even new is play. Front in 1942 German his comrade-in- arms and longtime personal friend Walter Krupinski time life The boy earned him the immediate nickname of "Bubi," which in means boy in at social pilots of the Air Force, the old tiger becomes a social lion. far inside the war enjoys humor, and and young measure a fighter in to date. of a fair been discussed light side of his nature has rarely the limited material published about German more than tells of the in the rarefied air of Berchtesgaden, before getting a decoration personally from Hitler. Four leading aces of Fighter 3 March 1944 aces were Wing 52 were on their way on to Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" to be decorated. The Gerhard Barkhorn, Johannes "Kubanski Lion" Wiese, Walter "Count Punski" Krupinski and Bubi Hartmann. The reers of all these men interlocked with Hartmann's and all will ca- be THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 10 on the occasion in question Barkhorn was to receive the Swords (Schwertern) to his Knight's dealt with later in this book, but Cross, Germany's second highest decoration. The other three were Oak to receive the Leaves to the Knight's Cross, the order stand- ing immediately below the Swords. The four men met each other on the He burg they befriended the conductor. lots and en route train, to Salz- was attracted to the pi- because all four were wearing the Knight's Cross at their and all four were happy, young and friendly. throats, The con- ductor began conjuring an endless supply of beverages from his compartment— schnapps, beer, wine, cognac. duced the flyers When bottles, the four them off the no condition the conductor poured the Eagle's Nest they were in As fast as he pro- disposed of the contents. As they staggered into the railway train a to few miles from meet station, they their Fiihrer. encountered tall, blond-haired Major von Below, Hitler's Luftwaffe aide-de-camp. A Below nearly capsized when he saw the in such an unseemly condition. They kindly old cavalier, von four neatly-dressed pilots were scheduled to meet the Fiihrer in less than two hours. Coun- tcrmeasures were necessary. Typical early outside. About continual light March weather ing out of a gray overcast. heit. blown snow three inches of snow blowing Von Below in the Bavarian Alps prevailed fall- temperature was 25 degrees Fahren- ordered the driver of the waiting Mercedes convertible to put the top down, the Eagle's Nest in the cold, brisk They were on the ground, with the nearby mountaintops or off The lay and drive the four celebrants to air. driven up the road in the perishing cold, and then allowed to get out and walk a little. They were then hustled into the Eagle's Nest a few minutes before their appointment with the Fiihrer. They were still far from sober. As they entered the foyer of the beautiful building, Hartmann spotted a military cap hanging on a stand nearby. Seeing that it had some braid on it, he said, "Oh yes, there's my hat." He walked over and quickly plopped his fellow aces. his They it on his head, turning to burst into laughter. The be admired by hat came down over ears— size seven and a quarter on a six-and-three-quarters head. CALIBER OF A HERO Von Below 11 The didn't join in the laughter. pointed by Hitler to steer visitors harassed aide, ap- through the maze of protocol and procedure, rushed over and snatched the hat from Erich Hartmann's head. "Give The me that. It is the Fiihrer's hat!" four pilots received their decorations without falling over, but the Blond Knight's inadvertent borrowing of the is always good for a laugh whenever any of the four day. Because Fiihrer's hat men meet to- he excelled at a very grim business, and survived an even grimmer aftermath, Erich Hartmann's sense of humor has remained veiled from the public. Nevertheless part of his personality, it is an and he would not be the man he essential is without leavening force. its In the annals of war history there have not been Hartmann's dimension, and even fewer. His 352 aerial victories, all span of heroes of aerial history, confirmed, are the all-time Gerd Barkhorn, fewer than Hartmann. The Blond Knight of world record for a fighter has fifty-one victories in the shorter many His closest pilot. rival, Germany downed more than four times as many aircraft as the Red Knight, the immortal Baron Manfred von Richthofen, topscoring fighter ace of the First World War. Even in the hard-driven Luftwaffe, only a handful of fighter pi- more often or entered aerial combat with greater frequency than Erich Hartmann. He took off to fight no less than fourteen hundred times, and actually entered aerial combat on more than eight hundred occasions. His physical and mental reflew lots silience were such that he endured without fatigue the constant grind of aerial combat from the fall of 1942 until the end in May 1945. He was never wounded. His ability to keep his hide intact while taking toll of his foes was not mere blind luck. successful fighter pilots, but all vidual style of air fighting that He rejected the dogfight, Will * Van The States of and he developed amounted He was lucky, like a distinctive, indi- to a tactical innovation. since the war, his onetime adjutant, de Kamp,* has said that Hartmann's success was due to late Will America Van de Kamp after the war. introduced the Volkswagen to the United THE BLOND K N I G*H T 12 way he drove home the man. the 0*F They were his attacks. GERMANY point-blank, like Van de Kamp once told Usch Hartmann after the war that if had used Erich's tactics, he would never have become the world's most successful fighter ace. Van de Kamp's view all fighter pilots was that Erich Hartmann's success was due to with the past, and the Blond Knight's evolved his tactics, detailed in this own his tactical break version of how he book, bear out the evaluation of his onetime adjutant. He is from man a many of and faults his positive personality. Analytical realistic, he likely to is and pluck out deals his toes. most of them failings, and arising intuitive, as well as go to the core of any problem with which he He primal seed. its decides and then digs in made him a have been liabilities as much In business, these traits might well have tycoon, but in today's military, they as assets. As a youngster, his directness showed up in impetuousness, often in dangerous conduct. In his maturity, astating lack of tact. In a and fascinated by the at heart, tomcat he and the heart insists perennially romantic, He culture increasingly absorbed vital, he emerges mobile mind has kept him of a tiger still beats inside the old he has become. In today's Hartmann, the for-leather fighter ace in his manifests as a dev- vacillations of uncertain heroes, anachronism. His as a vibrant young modern it and hell- often sloppy in dress, always venturesome, is perilously close to the surface for a man early sixties. is a man of consummate coolness under stress, and has far more than his fair share of nerve. He often closed in to less than a hundred feet before firing at his foes in the air, a perilously close distance, and a paper-thin margin between a sure kill and a midair collision. He survived fourteen forced landings on the Eastern Front, taking off again each time as soon as a new aircraft was years— he was twenty-two years old the Diamonds—his innate qualities of modesty and available. Despite his tender when he won restraint were not disturbed. Far older men of the world, than Erich Hartmann, in sometimes failed to all the military forces wear the hero's mantle with dig- CALIBER OF nity and Corps HERO A 13 credit to themselves fighter ace "Show me and As U.S. Marine their nation. Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington once a hero, and show you I'll a bum." For many Boyington's derogatory assessment has been too true. all said, heroes, Many a wartime celebrity has become a peacetime emotional casualty. Hartmann had to maintain his integrity not in the face of rewards heaped on him by a grateful nation, but against a regime that forced him to fight on for a decade in a lonely, soul-destroying Cold War. Hartmann played the cards that Fate has dealt him in war and Erich peace with an equanimity that could even hope to emulate. all men When can admire, but which few he returned to Germany in 1955 he had several bitter cups to drain. His son, Peter Erich, had died in 1947 and the Blond Knight never saw the boy. His beloved father had also passed away. His into the medical profession his age had to to follow his father be renounced on account of and long separation from the academic world. Nearly one- third of his time Old boyhood hope on earth had been fighter tigers join the paign to from in Russian him to They put on an informal cam- his glory days continually pressed new German Air get him back into Force. the military. dim, he had to begin rebuilding his fighter piloting, jails. the thing he knew With life all other possibilities on the foundation of best, the profession his he had mastered. He a new of his checked out on the new jets under USAF instructors, started family with a lively blonde daughter, and began the process own rebirth. Erich armed forces to win the was the only member of the new German Diamonds in the Second World War. His new boss, General Kammhuber, made his appointment to command the first jet fighter wing of the new German Air Force— the Richthofen Wing— a historic and morale-building step. He became one of the most respected officers in Germany. old glories, and his farsighted and serious For all the good signs he was not yet done with enemies. antagonists of the Blond Knight were not only the in war and the in the NKVD new German in peace, but also petty Air Force. Small men men enemy The pilots in high places in big jobs envied Erich THE BLOND KNIGHT 14 Hartmann and A tried in various few years ago, one such shoot the Blond Knight ways man OFT GERMANY to injure his career in the down from that will be detailed in due course. and uniform of a general status. tried to the ground, in a proceeding He survived this thrust and fights on. The battered shield of the Blond Knight honor, and may its escutcheons are emblazoned on yet be it, still for bright. its come to explore depth of his mance with torment while still carried with More names fair-haired bearer formidable participant in the tournament of with him is life. of glory is still The time a has his story as a hero of the joust, the in his beautiful lady. bondage, and his unforgettable ro- Two Chapter THE MAKING OF A MAN The fount of manhood has its source in boyhood. —Anonymous Al.n adventurous keynote was struck for the Hartmann when he departed Germany with live in of Erich life his family in 1925 to China. Born 19 April 1922 at Weissach in Wiirttemberg, Erich was a sturdy, blond-headed infant already showing a will of his own when mother took him aboard his Orient. Erich's father, Dr. Alfred a steamer bound for the Hartmann, had found conditions Germany difficult and unrewarding. A German Army doctor in the First World War, he had returned from that conflict only to confront new enemies— inflation, food shortages, political in postwar and economic chaos. When Hartmann's cousin, who was German consul Dr. Shanghai, came home and saw in the shambles in the fatherland, he urged Erich's father to return with him and practice medicine in China. The consul assured Chinese. Dr. him of a flourishing practice Hartmann loved adventure, and cousin. skeptical A of ant and outgoing wife, Dr. Compared most him, but he was the rosy picture painted by his diplomat conservative and careful to reconnoiter. the the prospect of prac- ticing his profession in a foreign land intrigued initially among man, in contrast to his exuber- Hartmann went ahead alone to China He was hardly prepared for what he found. to convulsed al- Hartmann found the Chinese people eager they paid their bills and they rewarded him as a paradise. Dr. for his services; and hungry Germany, China was THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY l6 well with their high Changsha, some He regard. t f was the only white doctor in hundred miles up the Siang [Yangtze Kiang] six River and another hundred up the Hsiang River, and sent his practice Changsha, and on which he later built a its He had in the a pleasant center on the life natural playgrounds, unspoiled beauty The island was a place run free. where Chinese people, wooded in river, island, and secluded coves. a child's imagination could thrive and A few This Oriental idyl was not destined to years later, as the home middle of the new home. memories of Erich's earliest with for his family. bought an island when he opened last long. modern revolutionary stirrings began in the their course became anti-colonialist and antifirst "foreign devil." Civil disturbances broke out. Dr. Hartmann had two sources of protection as agitation community worse. There was his status in the good works were not to lost became as a physician. His on the Chinese. Secondly, he was lucky be a German, because in the China of the 1920s the Germans had no status or influence, and were not a part of the decaying colonial structure. These conditions nevertheless provided only munity for the Hartmann becoming commonplace. whom the medical had his office. By temporary im- 1929, street violence was Assaults on English, French and Belgian residents were frequent. Dr. one of family. a home Walking Hartmann had in the town several English friends, of Changsha, not far from to his office one morning, Erich's fa- ther was appalled to find the severed heads of three English friends impaled on the picket fence around one of the British residences. doctor reacted quickly. Frau Hartmann, fiveand-a-half-year-old Erich and his brother Alfred, a year younger, The kindly were packed German off back to Germany for safety's sake. For several weeks they went jolting across Russia on the horrendous Trans- way through Moscow, the train made was supposed to last an hour, and Elisabeth Hartmann some food and drink for her sons. Siberian Railroad. a stop that went to get On the "Erich," she said to her elder son, "you look after Alfred. Don't be back in a few minutes." She disappeared into the milling throng in the Moscow station. Before she get out of your seats. I will SOJOURN IN CHINA: Elisabeth Hart- mann and her sons Erich and Alfred spend a pleasant Sunday afternoon in the garden of their home on an Island in the Yangtze River near Shanghai. (1925). ERICH'S PARENTS: Dr. (med) Alfred Hartmann and Elisabeth Machtholf were married in 1919. Their first son, Erich Alfred was born 19 April 1922 at Weissach, Germany. DESTINATION CHINA: In July 1924, Frau Hartmann posed holding Alfred and Erich, who was just 28 months old at the time. They were preparing to leave for China. WINTER IN GERMANY— 1928: Alfred hangs onto Erich and Erich hangs onto his father on a shopping trip. T f OCTOBER 1940: The first photograph of Erich uniform of a Flying Cadet. He was I8V2 years old. Hartmann in the CADET CLASS— 1 March 1941: Hartman, Cadet class photo taken before he reported Berlin-Gatow for flight training. Hartmann is the rear row, third from the right. THE MAKING OF MAN A 17 returned, the train started pulling out. Alfred doctor in Weil im Schonbuch, has a clear Hartmann, today memory a of the petrifying experience that ensued. was "I He terrified, and soon blinded by me kept soothing me, urging would have none of was rattling wrong with us, not to cry and to be brave. and kept bawling on toward Germany The people pace. it, in the train at my off. my I train like a frantic trying to explain our plight. better Chinese than to the confusion and to my all of which "After what seemed like an hour of agony, through Erich had been The were trying to find out what was we both spoke German, which contributed mounting terror. head what seemed and Erich was manfully Unfortunately, at that time Erich was calmer. tears. ever- comforter, interpreter and nurse, the carriage door opened and there stood my mother, her blonde hair blown At her appearance, even the brave Erich broke down. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he pointed to me recriminatingly. 'I told him not to cry/ he bawled, as our moth- awry but a smile on her er's lips. arms went around us both." In later years, the cause of Elisabeth Hartmann's strange ab- sence has been one of the family jokes. She had been buying food after standing in line, the end of its when she heard her train called, long before scheduled hour stop. The departure whistle shrieked immediately afterward. Dropping everything, the blonde young German matron speed. bolted along the platform as the train gathered Grabbing at the handrail of the last car at the very end of the platform, she swung aboard Hollywood-style, exhausted and panting. Russian railways at this time were a long way from possessing the luxurious rolling stock in vogue on most Western railroads. This particular train had no inner corridors in the cars behind the one in which Frau Hartmann had been riding with her sons. These coaches were like Australian streetcars, with a catwalk along the side. She had been forced finally to work her way forward car by car, reaching the closed coach where Erich and his brother were waiting. After her return from China, Elisabeth Hartmann settled down THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY l8 * f Weil im Schonbuch near in Stuttgart and waited word from for her husband. After six months he wrote that things had quieted down. The civil had abated. "Come back strife he to China," wrote, "and bring the boys." The independent Elisabeth Hartmann, however, had already decided that enough of their "I will now for an office for you near and practice medicine family lives had been spent in the Orient. not return to China," she wrote back, "and moved Dr. safely." am I looking down Hartmann came home. The Stuttgart, where you can settle into a quaint old farmhouse near Weil, and three and office at 9 Bismarckstrasse Weil im Schonbuch, where Erich Hartmann was to spend the years later the couple built a house in youth before going to war. rest of his From his earliest years in Weil, Erich was aviation-mad. pacity for daring began to emerge, exemplified by his to fly. He fashioned a glider out of bamboo shafts first A ca- attempt and stretched old blankets over the framework to form a fuselage. Carrying this rig, which was ran and jumped Clem Sohn and Leonardo da Vinci, he roof of the summer house. He landed in a blend of a off the and he was unhurt, but he engineering and forthwith abandoned his specially-dug pit filled with soft earth, recognized his faulty ground-hungry contraption. Erich's interest in aviation was given impetus adventurous mother took up sport but ant, young at on the boring a little woman like Elisabeth Boblingen Airport, the clays, just a little in flying. Life in side for Weil was six his pleas- an active and attractive Hartmann. She joined civil more than and focus when a flying club flying field for Stuttgart in those miles from Dr. Hartmann s office Weil. A gifted pilot, Erich's light plane, a became ily Klemm 27. mother got her Then private flying license in 1930, the on a happy Hartmann fam- part owners of a two-seater, which they shared with the meteorological director of Boblingen Airport. Erich's exposure to airplanes and flying thus became constant and intimate. Today, but in IBM has buildings on the old Boblingen Airport the early 1930s every fine Saturday and Hartmann boys and their mother site, Sunday saw the flying in the little Klemm, or THE MAKING OF A MAN working on it. After the economic collapse in 1932, the beloved machine had little 19 to be The sold. loss of the aircraft was a hard blow. The began came following year, Hitler its to power, and German aviation wanted German youth resurrection. Hitler become to air-minded, and urged the formation of glider clubs as a focus for In 1936, Frau this interest. Hartmann formed a glider club at im Schonbuch for the local boys, mostly farmers' sons, as instructress. The the snappy thrill of but gliding had a rare charm all of its little Klemm own, and it Weil and served was missing, made for happy and entertaining weekends. The club had two gliders. was an open glider. A Zogling 38, for primary training, For advanced pilots, there Every weekend Erich was taken by He his took his turn with the other boys. mother The was a Grunau Baby. to the gliding meets. grueling task of pulling the gliders into the air with a heavy rubber rope was a perfect outlet for side, With youthful energy. eight husky young Germans on each they would run forward, dragging the glider with all their might. Often the sailplane would down on The hard crunch back rope-pullers. had to work hard lift a few yards into the air, only to the grass amid groans of despair from the pull would have The boys Then would come the to begin again. for the thrill of flying. magic words. "Erich, you get in. It's your turn. We'll His brother Alfred has a vivid "He was an try to pull memory you up." of Erich's gliding excellent pilot, gifted from the start. I skill: used to wish I could do as well, but there was a vast difference in our natural ability for gliding." At fourteen years of age, Erich was a licensed and proficient glider pilot. At the end of 1937, he passed his "A" and "B" Glider Pilot examinations, and with his "C" License became an Instructor in the Glider Group of the Hitler Youth. Looking back on those days more than forty years ago, Erich Hartmann says this of his introduction to flying: "Gliding was a great sport, and something more besides. me a wonderful feeling for the air. The sensation It gave and subtle pres- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 20 wind sures of the around you, holding you up, bearing on your all glider, attune you to the sense, an air man. Powered nothing strange to me. my young was as friends much "The air fly, a part of I had flown, I me right down kind. I is came brother and as all so climbing into an aircraft me as getting into an automobile. to this day. If and something goes wrong, often before there my mother, early familiarization with aircraft that has helped some my in the true the Luftwaffe, flight, later in had seen and You become, environment. I get a bad I am got through gliding I sitting in feeling. my pants. aircraft get this feeling I any instrumented indication of a feel it in the seat of an failure of There can be no doubt more that the earlier you get started in the flying business, the highly developed your feeling becomes for everything connected with aircraft." same Erich's brother Alfred practices medicine today in the Weil built by his physician father. He is a sensitive and kindly man, who reflects strongly his father's temperament and outlook. After a brief fling as a Stuka gunner in North Africa, family home in he was captured in Tunisia, and spent four years in British prison camps. More delicate of features, physique and manner than his famous brother, Alfred recalls Erich's formative early years in these frank terms: 'Tie was stronger than athletic me and accomplished in every way. He was sports-minded, in sports. In fact, there was nothing in the sporting line at which he did not excel or could not excel tried it. he was if he He was a natural athlete with wonderful coordination, and at home swimming, diving, skiing and He at track. ex- celled at gymnastics. "In their own society, Erich was a natural leader boys elect their leaders naturally, and among them. His athletic prowess only one element in this natural ability to lead. He was also strong and practical— a resourceful boy. Boys his age really spected which him for these qualities. too, fame might obscure. He was his later particularly to Then, he had other fair was clever, re- qualities and he was gentle, me, because he knew he was stronger than me. "Erich could not abide a bully, and he was a protector of younger boys. I exploited his well-earned fame as a bully-tamer by THE MAKING OF boys telling bigger Erich on they hit if A who me MAN 21 me threatened that they would hear from They or bothered me. left me Even Weil im Schonbuch, with its population thousand people, the boys went around in gangs. Erich in sleepy little of three and Alfred belonged to the Glider Frau Hartmann's gliding club. The fering interest, was known Gang, rival a group of boys from gang, because of crash between bunches of boys is action into was revealed its dif- Gang. There was "bad as the Bicycle blood" between the two gangs because of fancied usually severely alone account." this insults, as there in rivalry. Erich's readiness to in one encounter between the gangs. Returning boy home from a movie one evening, Alfred and another trailed along forty yards or so body of the Glider Gang. Members behind Erich and the main of the Bicycle Gang waiting concealment sprang out of the shadows, seized Alfred and in and pal, spirited Gang who was the Glider He them off to their his hideaway. Another member of bringing up the rear, saw the kidnaping. followed the kidnapers and then ran after the Glider Gang for help. "The Bicycle Gang has Alfred— they've got him and they're going to beat him up." in the old Hard-sprinting Erich quickly outstripped the Glider ran to the rescue. He hit the barn doors at full tilt, Gang barn as he smashing them open. Bursting into the barn, he confronted the shocked Bicycle Gang. There were fourteen of them. They had Alfred and friend tied to a post. Erich snatched barn floor "Get The foes, and out! up a jack handle his from the started swinging. Get out! All of you. Before I whack you with this." blue eyes were like burning pinpoints as he advanced on his swinging the jack handle in a wide arc. The broke and ran, bolting out of the barn for their triumphant and panting, untied Bicycle lives as Gang Erich, his grateful brother. In later years, man would make him who outnumbered him. He was a boy who the same fearless quality burning in the victorious over others tackled life head-on. Erich and his brother were students in the mid-i930S at a THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 22 The national-political educational school in Rottweil. not this school did He Erich. well with the forming character of sit The loved freedom. military-style discipline, Much lives. was taught, and even leisure-time ends at home Weil seemed in young school functioned under tight, which ruled all aspects of the students' German polemic based on the new silly character of activities nationalism were regulated. Week- from to Erich like a liberation prison. He carries to this day an unpleasant memory of Rottweil: "Every teacher was God, and we were the ics we had lesson make to and when time came slaves. Once in a phys- black powder from charcoal and sulfur, for the combined production on an morning break, we had iron plate. We to put our were told not to play with this material during the break. "The teacher around the knew it the classroom, and left pile of contained. we promptly gathered powder, fascinated by the explosive power we A couple of the more enterprising boys put matches near the powder, but weren't game to actually Everyone was daring everyone a else to hit the match. Someone challenged probably a mistake. powder. A I me powder do directly to took a match and shoved it ignite directly it. with which was it, right into the and an explosion sent everyone diving under the flash smoke went billowing out of the room. "Within seconds, our teacher came striding back in, obviously desks, angry. and a pall of Nobody would my hand up to clean this up and all confess to playing with the powder, so said that I had set it alight. My the apparatus used during lessons. cleanup job three days later when I I put punishment was I was still doing accidentally knocked a heavy iron glass-holder into the cleaning sink, destroying some glass retorts. was outright war between myself and this never forgot my prank, nor forgave me. He seized "Ever afterward teacher. He it every chance to victimize me. This vendetta typified the unhealthy student-teacher relationship at Rottweil." made his discom- to his parents. In the spring of 1937, Dr. Hartmann Erich chafed under the school's strictures, and fort known transferred his sons to the "Internat" type of Hochschule at THE MAKING OF MAN A Korntal near Stuttgart. The Hartmann boys boarded 23 school had a dormitory wing and the there during the week. Erich's old teacher Kurt Busch, remembers the conditions under at Korntal, Professor which the future ace of aces got his education. "Korntal School operated on lines different from the militarytype Rottweil school. I remember Erich me telling he thought the discipline too strict and all-encompassing at Rottweil. We allowed more freedom, and encouraged a good relationship between teachers and students. Every incentive was present for education and study. "In particular, the freedom they were given encouraged their sense of responsibility, as well as the development of conscience. These kids were not angels, Erich included, but when they abused their freedom, they knew This something for teen-agers, and it and I felt it inside. believe Erich was really happy means in Korntal Hochschule" Thirty years ing the Erich "He was later, Professor Busch Hartmann he taught a little difficulty in recall- 1937-1939: boy one liked immediately. Straightforward, open and honest, he carried these ness, in had qualities over into a certain impulsive- but without hurting anyone's feelings or provoking them. was aware of his thought was quite winning right, traits and profited He by them, which he but nevertheless he was extremely toler- ant and never carried grudges. His temperament was to enjoy himself and look for the sunnier side of courteous and respectful, and I life. Toward teachers he was thought highly of his modesty and tidiness." Professor Busch, Erich's brother Alfred that he was not the intellectual type. who fulfilled ambition. He He and his mother all agree was an average student the academic curriculum without either difficulty or exerted only such effort as was needed to pass ex- aminations. His energies were primarily directed to the sports he loved. Part of Korntal school activities was an occasional week of ing in the mountains. opportunities to see at On these trips, Professor Busch first hand ski- had many Erich's drive to excel competi- tively—and also his penchant for fun. The professor was once al- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY the scene. When he emerged from his chalet 24 most too close to one morning, he was greeted by of snow completed a as Erich a whooshing sound and free ski jump off a shower the chalet roof, eighteen feet above the professors head. Warnings were became soft, self-assured time laugh and the happy grin that later Hartmann the man, were his only the next hazard. Alfred Hartmann recalls a characteristic of Erich response before tackling a jumping hazards to Erich of steep slopes, danger, or A futile. when they went to a skiing meet that featured a big jumping event. "Erich had never done this kind of big jump before. But he simply said he was going to enter the event the next day. him he was a fool. When the time came, it I told was me, standing in the audience, that was trembling, while Erich was at the top of snow he stood the slope as cool as the boomed was in his my name. Down he came, then high mouth. But he made and landed perfectly. He a He strutting or boasting. To world to tackle a jump his success, ski him, it like loudspeakers in the air. smooth jump was courageous to a nothing of the show-off in him. The on. My heart of ninety-eight feet fault, but there was did nothing for the purpose of was the most natural thing in the that— to meet its challenge. After he behaved with perfect modesty." His head-on acceptance of any kind of athletic challenge won "Wild Boar." Professor Busch recalls it as a natural nickname. "The name is not too flattering, but it described to perfection Erich's vitality and forcefulness at this time— qualities that won him our wholehearted respect." They him the boyhood nickname of were also qualities that were and tory, sustain later to carry him through him ordeals almost to a place in his- beyond the compre- hension of the kindly people of prewar Weil im Schonbuch. and only love affair was also a head-on adventure. At Korntal Hochschule he met the girl who was to be first his sweetheart and later his wife— Ursula Paetsch. As a young teenErich's ager, first "Usch" Paetsch was mediately caught his eye. fell as dark as Erich He was fair, and that im- declares to this day that in love with her at first sight. Having made up his decided to take action. In October 1939, Usch and a he simply mind, he girl friend THE MAKING OF were walking up on racing MAN A home from his bike. 2$ off and the sidewalk, he looked into Usch's eyes Hartmann." This letting the bicycle fall to and shyly said, "I'm Erich self-introduction, typical of Erich's innate di- was to survive the harshest started a love affair that rectness, when Erich came school one afternoon Jumping adversity. Erich's parents were concerned oyer his on one girl. He was only seventeen. Still and Mrs. Paetsch, because Usch was only aggressor, father, initial we knew an engineer that," said Usch's for a more were Mr. startled "Erich was the fifteen. mother of Usch's this time. mining equipment manufacturer, voiced opposition but quickly recognized that he could not influ- ence the youngsters. When Erich was obviously going to Herr Paetsch simply quit the unequal of the sudden concentration whole thing," he struggle. "I wash persist, my hands said. Usch's mother tried to discourage the courtship, but it was not Usch once said that she was going to a movie with her girl friend, which she did. Waiting in the movie by prearrangement was Erich. He undertook to see Usch home, and she was late. Frau Paetsch imposed a three months' ban on all movies, despite the appeals and apologies of the blond-haired boy who came to her door to plead his case. Usch accepted the punishment with unusual resignation, and a couple of months later her mother found easy. out why. lady, Usch week she would dutifully attend classes. At the dancing school and attending the same classes was her fair-haired beau, Erich Hartmann. They could In order to become a typically accomplished was taking dancing lessons not be kept apart, and it in Stuttgart. gradually Twice young a became obvious to everyone that they belonged together. In time, both families were charmed by their young love in a world that was growing darker. call Usch his girl friend, Erich had to some competition. Usch's charms had captivated a dark-haired youth who was older than Erich and a head Before he could truly eliminate lanky, taller. —a In later years, sort of youthful with sideburns. Usch smilingly German When referred to version of Cesar him as "Casanova" Romero, complete Erich told Usch that he wanted her to be THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 26 and go steady with him, she confessed that Casanova kept telephoning and wanting dates. his girl 'Til take care of that," said Erich. He called on Casanova, who towered over him. Casanova lis- tened impassively to Erich. "Usch make is my now, and girl dates any more. Casanova I don't want you to I know you call her or try and will understand." sniffed disdainfully, turned on his heel and walked away, giving no sign that he had even heard this polite ultimatum. A few days to go to the movies. little Casanova was again later, and he calling Usch and asking her When Usch told Erich, his face darkened a he would see Casanova about the phone calls. said A few days later, he ran into Casanova. "I told you to stay away from Usch," he said, and stood up his rights with a couple of lefts— one to the nose solar plexus. ray, forever Casanova sank and one for to the to the sidewalk in blubbering disar- eliminated from the contest for Usch's hand. Erich and Usch were seldom out of each other's thoughts from the fall lives. of 1939 onward, They spent and the warmth every possible most everything except each September 1939, but it moment other. of young love filled their together, oblivious to War had come had an unreal quality Europe to al- in and Usch to Erich 1940 and Erich's graduation from Korntal Hoch~ had to make an important decision about his future. until the spring of schule. He His intention all along had been to become a doctor, and this wish had gladdened his father's heart, although Erich had no heartfelt, driving desire to become a physician. When he gradu- ated from Korntal Hochschule a few weeks after his eighteenth birthday in April 1940, he realized that service some kind was inevitable. That could mean only one thing of military for Erich— the Luftwaffe.* The war opened field of aviation. to Erich Powered Hartmann the complex and expensive flight in prewar Europe was possible The German military was very sensitive about being referred to as the Luftwaffe after World War II. However, after about 1962 it became the normal term throughout the world. Luftwaffe is "Air Force" in the German * language. THE MAKING OF A MAN 27 only for a few, because aircraft were expensive to acquire and operate. men men Certainly sport flying was beyond the reach of most young Under the impetus in their teens. could become military pilots, ents of an education in aviation in By 1940 and same young of war, the find themselves the recipi- which no expense was spared. German fighter force had begun to capture the German people. Newspapers carried extensive publicity about successful fighter pilots. Werner Moelders, the top scorer of the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War, was in action again with much success. Johannes Steinhoff and Wolfgang Falck were the heroes of the Battle of the German Bight the imagination of the against RAF bombers attacking Germany. Erich's imagination was captured by the seemingly glamorous trade of fighter piloting. He decided to enlist in the Luftwaffe. His humanitarian chosen to be a flyer, father was disappointed but Erich had been raised a allowed to decide his derstood his desire to ambitions toward the own fly, had free man and was future in freedom. Erich's for she air. Erich that mother un- had nurtured and guided Usch was unhappy his early at the prospect of being separated from Erich, but then, as now, whatever he wished to do would meet with her Dr. Hartmann and that the themselves, assent. believed the war would end in a conflict boded no good nevertheless, The common view they all German Among for the fatherland. Erich's rationalized of the times that the decision. war would soon be over become assisted their acceptance of Erich's desire to reasoned that he could learn to be an accomplished the anticipated short war there would defeat, still They a pilot. flyer, and after be plenty of time for medicine. Military young life spirit was psychologically wrong who for Erich. sought the freedom of the air. He was The a free Rottweil school had already demonstrated Erich's fundamental antipathy to military life, which had now become a pill to be swallowed with the sweetness of flying. His basic aversion to military ways has tended to adversely affect his later career in the the wartime Luftwaffe and in the new air force, both in Bundesluftwaffe, but he has THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 28 nevertheless been able to survive as an independent spirit in an environment based on conformity. On 15 October 1940, with the climax of the Battle of Britain already past, the fresh-faced Erich Regiment 10 Military Training from Konigsberg The pilot German training of The March 1941, time was not full impact of heavy in- pilot had not penetrated the Luftwaffe was done to accelerate the painstakingly thor- ough courses by which the Luftwaffe produced had not even replaced Battle craft production in his or high water. fighter pilots at this losses in the Battle of Britain Staff. Little was now uppermost come hell vested with any special urgency. General joined Air Force Neukuhren, about ten miles in East Prussia. Flying He would become a mind. at Hartmann when Erich reported to the Air its pilots, and air- of Britain losses by Academy School at Berlin-Gatow for flying training. Since October 1940 he had been learning military discipline, and the manual of arms close-order drill activities for which he never developed any enthusiasm. There had also been theoretical studies in aviation subjects— the history of aviation; theory of operation, design flight; and construction of aircraft and aircraft engines; aeronautical engineering; strength of materials, aerody- namics and meteorology. These subjects absorbed Erich had no difficulty with this aspect of his tive of imminent flying training through his studies with The most a his interest, new life. The and incen- was powerful enough to drive him ease. flying training that began year— indicative of the at Berlin-Gatow was to last al- leisurely attitude taken at that toward pilot training in the Luftwaffe. Young time pilots later in the on the Russian Front with barely one hundred hours total flying time— to be thrown straight into combat. Erich took his first flight in military training on 5 war would come to Erich's squadrons March 1941 in a type BT-NB trainer, with Sergeant Kolberg as his instructor. By 24 March 1941 he was ready to solo. When he touched down at the end of his first solo flight, it was his seventyfourth landing in a powered aircraft, although it was preceded by hundreds of glider landings. Basic flying training was completed by 14 October 1941, and he THE MAKING OF was ready for the Gatow had MAN A advanced 29 flying course. His instructors at Berlin- already determined that he was fighter pilot material. This advanced training period occupied from 15 October 1941 to 31 January 1942, after the Fighter School. and now which he was posted At Zerbst, in the Eastern Zone and to Zerbst/Anhalt between Dessau and Magdeburg of Germany, he was introduced to the aircraft that he would ride to glory— the Messerschmitt 109. Erich had flown seventeen different types of powered aircraft by the time he was ready German pilot dreamed Me-109* with ited for the fabled Me-109. Every young of flying this legendary machine. The spir- powerful Daimler-Benz engine was a superb- its and One handling aircraft, at Zerbst was Lieutenant Hohagen, a former aerobatic champion a delight to Germany, and he taught of secrets of aerobatic flying. fly. of Erich's instructors his flaxen-haired student maneuvers and the of the This was knowledge that Erich was to use in the future, and misuse in the near future. cal many aircraft itself mastered, With basic tactihe moved on in to the business end of combat flying— gunnery. That Erich Hartmann was a superior natural marksman cannot June 1942 be doubted. Nevertheless there modest view of a discrepancy is his aerial shooting and the verdict of poraries. He the while experienced aces like Krupinski, air, action between his his own contem- claims that he was never a good long-distance shot in when he first went who saw him in he was out- to the Russian Front, say standing at long range. Erich deserted long-range attacks early in and hence his long-range marksmanship was seldom subsequently exhibited. At his combat career in favor of point-blank attacks, gunnery school On his shooting ability 30 June 1942, in his was obvious. first aerial gunnery effort, Erich fired 7.62-mm machine guns in the Me-io9D, and scored twenty-four hits. Anyone with a knowledge fifty * shots at a drogue with the The fighters at Zerbst were the Me-i09-E4 at the time. Known as the Bf-109 in Europe (for Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, renamed Messerschmitt 1150 hp Daimler-Benz DB-601 Aa engine. Maximum speed was 357 mph and stall speed was 75 mph. Armament was two 7.9-mm MG-17 machine guns and two 20-mm cannon in July mounted 1938), in the it was powered by an wings outside the propeller arc. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 30 of fighter Many pilot training will achievement remarkable. find this and of the top aces of the Luftwaffe spent months, case of Erich's comrade Major Willi Batz,* years, vainly trying to A shooting eye score hits in air-to-air combat. in the the most important is Hartmann was one of those talent that came so hard and asset of a successful fighter ace. Erich individuals gifted with this rare slowly to others. The long grind through fighter pilot training had been arduous and demanding. When he was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 31 March 1942, Erich He mission. felt he had earned also felt like letting his hair his wings and his com- down, young boy like a getting out of school in the afternoon. On 24 August 1942, while attending the advanced gunnery down school at Gleiwitz, he flew some of Lieutenant to Zerbst Hohagen's aerobatics over the buzzed and beat up Zerbst with snap flying back to Gleiwitz climaxed He came rolls and Cuban airfield. He eights, and show with a maneuver an old James Cagney flying his air that might have been lifted out of movie. and demonstrated howling across Gleiwitz Airfield at thirty feet alti- tude and upside down, while spectators stood bug-eyed with a mixture of wonder and The Gleiwitz CO. terror. was waiting when he landed. Erich was bawled out, sentenced to room thirds of his arrest for a week, pay for ninety days. His and fined two- show had been air expensive. This potentially dangerous stunt showed that the impulsiveness discerned in him by his schoolteacher had not yet been eliminated by military discipline. His wild aerobatics evidenced a certain immaturity that was to cause his concern about giving him too Erich's punishment had commanding much its of room the front responsibility too quickly. positive! side as well, back on the incident today without "The week officers at and he looks regret: arrest saved my life. I was scheduled for a Major Wilhelm Batz, 237 aerial victories in World War II. Soviet Front t On the other hand, news of his arrest preceded him to the as punishEast the to sent was he and many Luftwaffe officers heard that of them some to revealing be will ment for the escapade. In fact, this story * as to what actually happened. THE MAKING OF MAN A 31 When I this mission, in the aircraft I gunnery mission that afternoon. mate took substitute. Shortly after take-off, was arrested, my roomhad been flying, as my on the way gunnery range, to the he had engine trouble and belly-landed beside the HindenburgKattowitz railroad. He was killed His impulsiveness had two but in the beginning As warrior prowess. his placement made it fighter pilots in the crash." sides, as on due course, shall see in his military progress lag far behind demand for re- ended, the his training all fronts home wangle a three-day leave at we in was urgent. Weil on his He was able to way to the East- ern Front. A farewell party was staged in his honor. Erich's parents' friends gathered to say their farewells to the young the rest of the ers men exuded had only quiet tears. pride The fathers known anything quite For those assembled, he was the hero, going to fight. His inner feeling was that he was going to himself, a disquieting known and and confidence, while the moth- Erich had never like this celebration in his life. pilot. and almost tipsy sensation kill he had never before. Between Erich and Usch there was a final, tender, lovers' agree- ment. would "I you wait for like to finally I Usch would indeed Will wait, longer than any could reasonably be expected to wait, before Erich would be hers to hold. He Krakau, 145 miles south of had over. will wait." dark-haired woman is me?" "Yes, Erich. The marry you, Usch, when the war took a train the following day to Warsaw in Poland, where the Luftwaffe a large supply base for the Eastern Front. fly Wing 52 (Jagdgeschwader 52, or JG-52). pilot, hot to join the unit to the hottest for action, flyer. From there he which he had been assigned, Fighter would He was a hot rock fighter but conditions in Russia could cool down In the coolness born of hard experience he would become the most successful fighter pilot who ever flew. » f Chapter Three TO WAR The most important thing without too much shock. for a young fighter pilot to get his is first victory —Colonel Werner Moelders .O. of the Luftwaffe Eastern riffled up through at the four "I a pile of requisitions fly his head. young second lieutenants assigned have no request you can't Front supply base at Krakau and shook down to any replacement for Maykop in Me-109/s. He looked to JG-52. aircraft for JG-52, so However, I have some Stukas to be ferried to Mariupol on the north coast of the Sea of Azov, and you could easily get to Maykop from there." Second Lieutenants Hartmann, Wolf, Stiebler and Merschat changed glances with each other and nodded ex- their assent to the base commander. Erich had never flown a Stuka dive bomber, but a plane was kind of bird. a plane. A He wasn't afraid to few minutes familiar cockpit of the dive Basic controls were not kite fly a Ju-87 or any other he was clambering into the un- later bomber. much different from the Me-109. The was bigger and slower, with some minor differences in instru- mentation. Erich ran up the engine and everything checked. Wolf, Stiebler and Merschat taxied out and took off satisfactorily. Erich eased the Stuka toward the take-off point. A controller operated take-off area to skirt the little building. He squeezed the brake to pull around the controller's hut. No response. and Erich prepared left from a wooden hut near the chomped on the binders. Full brakes! Still no effect. The He dive TO WAR 33 bomber kept going brake. He right for the hut, as Erich fought the defective glimpsed the controller bolting out of the hut, and an instant later the Stuka went plowing into the structure. Rapid loud bangs racketed peller across the base as the Stuka's pro- hacked the hut into matchwood. paper and wood splinters filled the air, A blizzard of shredded and swirling around under the propeller's blast beat like a snowstorm into the cockpit. Erich killed engine and the jumped out shamefaced to the assess damage. Two Half the Stuka's propeller had disappeared. splintered wooden stumps about eighteen inches long stuck out from the propeller boss. half its size, duced to The controller's hut had been chopped down to and the documents and logbooks confetti. The dazed inside controller picked his had been re- way slowly amid the shambles. Officers and other personnel, headed by a livid base commander, came apprehensively out of nearby buildings to view the wreckage. Almost fainting with embarrassment, Erich stood red-eared and awkward beside the As the base commander advanced ruins. on him, he was ready to be bawled one of out, but his young comrades saved him. A second Stuka of the four destined for Mariupol came limping in for a landing with its engine missing and trailing smoke. Before the horrified gaze of the already furious base commander, the sec- ond Stuka touched down, rolled forward briefly, perienced pilot hit the brakes a and stayed young there, its pilot crawled little too hard tail reaching for the sky. and went up on A second Maykop its nose crestfallen out and stared uncomprehendingly at his Stuka. Appalled by the attrition these "baby pilots" the base as the inex- commander decided that they would in a Ju-52 transport— with someone fly had caused, to the front at else at the controls. Conversation was impossible inside the Ju-52 due to the engine noise, so Erich settled back amid ammunition cases, crates of spare parts and gasoline drums old Berlin newspaper he found to give his attention to a two-day- among the freight. Reports of the war were optimistic. Leningrad was under siege. tacks were being launched against Stalingrad. Battering-ram The German at- drive THE BLOND KNIGHT O F GERMANY 34 where he was heading now, would soon into the Caucasus, minate in the capture of Baku and cul- limitless oil— according to its Dr. Goebbels. Reports of air battles showed that at all points on the Eastern Front, aerial combat was taking place at least 750 miles deep in Soviet territory. from the Eastern Front had spoken in awe of and high-scoring its aces. The Fighter Wing he was joining JG-52 had won great fame. Since Erich had yet to fire his guns in anger, Pilots returning and with the Stuka mind, he disaster fresh in his felt his inexperi- ence sharply. His nerves grew taut as the transport began down the at Maykop, 1 50 miles northwest of Mt. Elbrus. its let- Maykop was HQ of JG-52. The wing stiffly adjutant was awaiting them as the new pilots climbed out of the transport. Captain Kuehl was a smallish man, neat and trim, with a pressed uniform and shining boots. epitomized the "All of you staff officer as he checked their names come with me," he said. He off a list. "You're going to meet Colonel Hrabak, the wing commander, before joining your indi- vidual squadrons at other airfields." Captain Kuehl led the way into an underground bunker. Headquarters for JG-52 was hung a little huge map of the with a telephone to HQ more than front. Two bomb soldiers were on duty at the the Russian official R/T one wall cases served as tables, the front. tables, One and away in to the officer and one corner One operator was keeping a running log traffic; the other operator was monitoring were the radio operators. on the Wing's On and another telephone connecting three groups of JG-52 deployed along two a big foxhole. conversations. Crates that once contained 20- mm cannon shells served as chairs. This grim and businesslike setup was presided over by a short, chunky man with thinning blond hair, Colonel Dietrich Hrabak. Erich immediately noticed the difference between the wing com- mander and his adjutant. Hrabak's pled and there were crusted with dried time. Erich oil spots mud and had never seen on uniform was soiled and rumhis trousers. His boots were hadn't contacted a brush for a long a colonel like this before. rear areas, at the training bases, a colonel was like a Back in the god and usually TO WAR 35 wore a uniform to match. Hrabak was a more ways than just his clothes. Hrabak spoke and moved softly, in each of them. Erich commander the wing easily. new blue eyes looked directly at each different kind of colonel His penetrating, light pilot as he shook hands with an immediate rapport with Hrabak. As felt briefly explained the command setup Erich could see that while Hrabak was no old-time ramrod, he was a competent and thorough Erich professional. If this you encountered at the front— a cer that felt was the kind of real old fighter offi- tiger*— he could find a place with such men. "Living to new the Luftwaffe," said Hrabak to the rise in pilots, a question of learning as quickly as possible to fly with your "is head, and not with your muscles." The wing commander and the Knight's Cross tories, The at this time had over of the Iron Cross sixty confirmed hung vic- at his throat. and others now were not taught things he was telling Erich back in the training schools. "Up aircraft to now, all your training has emphasized controlling your on operations, that in flying your aircraft. pilots To is, making your muscles obey your survive in Russia and be successful will fighter you must now develop your thinking. You must act aggres- sively always, you of course, or will not be successful, but the must be tempered with cunning, judgment and thinking. Fly with your head and not your muscles. aggressive spirit telligent . The R/T ." . loudspeaker broke in on Hrabak. Erich stood rooted to the spot as a typical front-line fighter pilot "Keep the base been clear. I've going to land immediately. A in- hit. I drama unfolded. field and I'm can see the ." . . buzz of concern arose in the bunker. Then the R/T rasped again. "Goddam! Erich, bunker I hope I and it. My engine's burning now. Hrabak and the other new just as a duty the end of the grass * can make The term "old" a half years officer fired a strip, among pilots red flare to clear the its field. Near approach, is relative. Hrabak was barely seven Hartmann, but an "old man" by the fighter pilots youthful standards of fighter pilots. . scrambled out of the an Me-109 was making older than Erich ." . THE BLOND KNIG9T OF GERMANY 36 trailing plume a down, the grass. of heavy black smoke. pilot stroked the stick The machine The back and the crippled kite hit the rolled a few yards, then and flew away from the dercarriage let go smoking, the Me-109 made gear was fighter's something aircraft. in the un- Burning and and ground-looped a swerve to the left with a thunderous explosion. Krupinski!" someone shouted. "It's Crash crews went racing out to ammunition schmitt's shells fight the started exploding fire, and but the Messer- and cannon tracer spouted away from the pranged bird at all angles. Erich stood with his gaze anchored by the fiery spectacle, fascinated by drama and its violence. Bursting through the smoke, the pilot bolted clear of the inferno. His survival seemed like a miracle. rescue truck drove He was him back to where Erich was a husky, big-bodied got "I some flak hits over the if his face was pale. damned Caucasus Mountains," to Hrabak. "Krupinski, said the we will have a birthday party for you tonight," wing commander. Hrabak turned awe standing. young man, and he was smiling widely as he approached Hrabak, even he said A to the new pilots, and at the sight of Krupinski, whose mouths hung open with at the narrowness of his recent escape. "Every time something goes wrong through he's it," said Hrabak, "we give and the like this, him pilot lives a birthday party because born again." "What happens, "Then we drink sir, if a pilot dies?" said Erich. his skin (Versaufen wir sein Fell), so every- body can forget quickly." Erich was deeply impressed by his meeting with two of the Luftwaffe's the manly later, more famous directness with fighter tigers. abbreviation liked the informality, Two which things were handled. on 10 October 1942, he was posted *The He III/JG-52 designates to III/JG-52,* No. 3 Gruppe days which had (Group) of Jagdgeschwader 52 (Fighter Wing 52). Each wing consisted usually of three Gruppen. The 7th Squadron of No. 3 Gruppe would be written 7.III/JG-52. The 7th, 8th and 9th Squadrons of JG-52 composed III/JG-52. TO WAR its 37 HQ at Soldatskaya, tains, hard by the transport crash on the a little village north of the Caucasus He river Terek. last leg of his and Hrabak's journey to war, with Krupinski's instructions burning in his mind. As the transport flew southward at the beauty of Moun- clambered again into a Ju-52 Mt. Elbrus off to marveled to Soldatskaya, Erich the right, thatched with snow, wearing a small boa cumulus cap, and glowing whitely in the bright sunshine. Over 18,000 feet high, Elbrus at the eastern a splendid landmark Elbrus would be the area. Off to the distance. made an imposing sentinel end of the Black Sea. Erich thought to himself what left, flat As the heavy ship let to any fighter pilot flying in plains stretched endlessly into the down for a landing, Erich spotted the airfield at the northwest corner of the little village. melons and sunflowers surrounded the region. A Acres of pretty thought Erich, marred only by the grim silhouettes of about Me-109/s on the airfield— a grass lots strip lined spot, sixty with tents for the pi- and ground personnel. At Soldatskaya, III/JG-52 was directed from another underground bunker much like the one in which Erich had met Hrabak. As Erich walked into the bunker with the other replacement lots, a tallish man pi- with slicked-back dark hair and a long, small face looked up and grinned. "Hello there, you innocent young babies!" he "I'm the said. Gruppenkommandeur, and my name is Major von Bonin. Hartmann and Merschat are assigned to the 7th Squadron, Stiebler and Wolf to the 9th. Now, what kind of news do you have for me from home?" Erich responded immediately to yet another tough old fighter tiger. Men like this didn't exist in the training schools. Again the uniform was rumpled, the trousers baggy and uncreased, the boots something to give a drill Von Bonin sergeant apoplexy. also dis- pensed ideas that weren't taught in the training schools. A Condor Legion in the Spanish War, von Bonin had downed four aircraft in that encounter, nine more flying with JG-26 in the Battle of Britain and more than fighter pilot veteran of the Civil forty on the Eastern Front. Thirty-two years the ways of fighter leadership, and Erich liked old, he was wise what he heard. in THE BLOND KNIGHT oV GERMANY 38 "Only On aerial victories we have the ground, element plies to more combat greatest skill and experience. This regulation ap- everyone— including me. than victories If I fly who with a sergeant has then he leads the element. This eliminates I, question between pilots as to all trivia. military discipline, but in the air each always led by the pilot with the most aerial victories is and the count out here, not rank or other who There to lead. is is never any dispute, because only victories count. "In the in battle, you'll say things you'll never say air, on the ground— especially to a superior officer. Under the strain and tension of combat this is unavoidable. Everything that passes in the way of comments— even abuse— in the air, is forgotten the moment you land. "You young second lieutenants will mostly be flying with ser- geants.* They'll be your leaders in the you didn't follow Von Bonin Never air. let me hear that their orders in the air because of rank." clearly meant what he said. The following month Erich heard Lieutenant Grislawski, an accomplished and successful fighter pilot, talking to R/T. They were engaged Major von Bonin, in a his wingman, on the heavy dogfight with Ratas. Grislaw- got excited, and von Bonin did not respond to his instructions. ski you won't "If me, then you can listen to kiss my backside," barked Grislawski into the R/T. Still no response. "You damned son-of-a-bitch at his group commander. When . . ." Grislawski kept hurling abuse they landed, Major, von Bonin Grislawski, and him told that he came had heard smilingly up to his instructions, but could not answer because his transmitter was dead. "Now your backside The to his lived * we that is are on the ground, you too dirty for pilots all roared CO., but it will agree with me that me to kiss." with laughter, and Grislawski apologized was not necessary. Von Bonin practiced and what he preached. The United missioned States Army officers as pilots. as officers as pilots. Air Corps, during Many World War II, used com- other nations used enlisted ranks as well TO WAR 39 As he finished new his informal talk to Erich von Bonin seemed more pilots, of confidence, trust mality, He When Master feeling tricks, but Erich felt for- he could follow Major hell. he joined the 7th Squadron, Erich met a small, black- man haired warm aroused a and comradeship. There was no empty no leadership von Bonin into an older brother than any like military officer in Erich's experience. and the other three to whom Eduard Sergeant personality to he was to become debt for the feel a "Paule" An Rossmann. improbable Rossmann was a fighter pilot, temperament, with a sunny disposition and a Second Lieutenant Hartmann was to rest of his life- of artistic fine singing voice. Sergeant Rossmann's fly as wingman. On the ground, Rossmann was playboy. His mercurial temperament could take from womanlike He dirty joke. him in an instant death of a comrade to laughter at a tears over the burst into song and a perennial funmaker, joker when he arose in the morning and was often singing when he went to bed. In between times he rec- onciled antagonisms between tense pilots, dissolving animosities with his humor. He was from the as far stylized conception of a dogfighter as a pilot could be, and, as Erich soon found out, Ross- mann wasn't a dogfighter. The mercurial Rossmann once airborne was a steady, reassuring teacher. The things Erich learned from this diminutive mentor would carry him to the top of his lethal trade. When most other officers in the squadron, dogfighters and toughies of them, heard that Erich had been assigned as Rossmann's wingman, they thumped the baby-faced Hartmann boy on the back. "Paule is our best man, Hartmann. He is a sharpshooter with over eighty victories, and he always brings his wingman home. You'll be safe with Paule." For two days Erich heard from every quarter what a good Rossmann was, a real first class honcho. He heard it also man from an- other individual whose services were to be an integral part of his success as a fighter pilot— his crew chief, Sergeant Heinz Mertens. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 40 Erich met Mertens soon after his arrival at 7th there was an immediate contact between the two Chunky, dark-haired Mertens was men he got from Mertens, and happy family man in Diisseldorf, fame and and it met. Erich liked the was mutual. Today a Heinz Mertens meeting with the twenty-year-old blond boy planes he serviced to men. a square-cut individual, he looked right at Erich when the two solid impression Squadron, and recalls his first who was to fly the The personnel, glory: "I couldn't picture a better young fighter pilot. including me, liked him very much. His first words to me when we met were that we would meet every morning for breakfast. He said we would map out the day and set everything up for briefings. He seemed like such a young youngster, with that boyish face, but he had a mature, businesslike manner. From then on, I would not let anyone else touch his aircraft except under and we were together from that day vision, my direct super- until the end of the war." Mertens made a practice of using a swearword, "Gebimmel!" when anything went wrong. Erich thought it was funny that his crew chief bore down so heavily on this one word, so he simply nicknamed him "Bimmel," and the name stuck. Between Bimmel, the good reports on Rossmann, the sound impressions made by Hrabak and von Bonin, and the dashing example Erich was desperately eager to do well Rossmann on 14 October 1942, on the set by Krupinski, when he took first off with mission in which he entered combat. The two Me- 109 G-4's had Groznyy and Digora when the "Seven fighters just taken off for a sweep between R/T came alive. and three IL-2's are strafing the roads near Prokhladnyy. Intercept and attack." Nerves taut, Erich followed Rossmann up to 12,000 feet, and they flew down the line of the Terek River to Prokhladnyy. He tells his own story of his first air "After a fifteen-minute R/T. flight, Rossmann's voice rasped over the 'Attention, eleven o'clock low. Bandits. Close in near to me and we'll attack.' I searched below for sight the enemy aircraft Rossmann had called out. I couldn't see any- in fighting position of battle: TO WAR 41 closed in on my thing. I him we dived down. as "Still leader to about one hundred feet behind enemy couldn't see any I we thousand-foot dive two dark green leveled off, aircraft in front and and a at high speed My heart leaped. first and to see all my tracer hurtling over There were no quickly that all hits. my "I felt desperate. I yards. I alone above had lost my kill. . . leader. in beautiful sunshine. it power full position. I was shocked target grew so big so up and avoid a collision. all sides by dark green for the kill. to the left of the target. I . I aircraft, Me! heeled over and raced low cloud, climbed through for a little layer of all to pull were. first was surrounded on I them turning behind me of and Nothing happened. The had time just I "Instantly from three hundred fired we saw us. thought was to get Now! That thought took possession of me. I went to and overtook Rossmann to get in front of him in firing closed very fast five- first I higher than little They were about a thousand yards away from "My After about a aircraft. it and found myself felt a little better. Then R/T. came Rossmann's very quiet and reassuring voice on the 'Dont sweat it. I watched your tail I've lost you now that you ye climbed through the clouds. pick you Come down below the layer so up again/ That calm voice sounded wonderful. the stick forward and went "When I about fifteen can pushed the cloud layer. burst out underneath the clouds, me head-on to down through I I I saw an hundred yards away. I aircraft panicked. I down and went barreling westward along the line of the river, calling to Rossmann that an unknown aircraft was following me. Back came that reassuring, quiet voice. Turn to the right so I split-essed can close with you. "I turned and got Down I right, 9 but the perilously close. went I aircraft panicked again. to treetop height, roaring could hear Rossmann on the unintelligible. down into mortal went hurtling I my terror. bullets into pursuing my R/T but along, all I me cut across my turn firewalled the throttle. westward at his voice full bore. I was distorted and the while pulling my head body, crouching behind the cockpit armor plate in I was waiting fighter. for the crash of enemy shells and THE BLOND KNIGHT of GERMANY 42 "When me. kept going a few minutes more, and to I had shaken but dared to take a look, the other aircraft was I off my pursuer. mentor. Climbing a little, I landmark— Mt. Elbrus clear The I to my But now left. red glow of the fuel warning light told minutes my tried to establish me I I garbled, still thrown at having tailing found relief heard Rossmann again, was near delirious with joy I my still my off tor- position. One was too late. it had than less five flying time. "After the shortest five minutes in memory, the engine coughed and blurted, then went dead. altitude. along. I could see a The little was going I in. I kite started to fall like a stone. than two minutes in less fantrymen. I had bellied in Soldatskaya, and an army a thousand feet road with military convoys moving belly-landed in a monstrous cloud of dust. and had I I I flattened out and opened the canopy was surrounded by German about twenty miles from me car took my in- base at back." Erich winced his way through a noisy, vehement and cold turkey Major von Bonin. The experienced Rossmann followed up with a lecture on elementary tactics while von Bonin listened grimly. On his first flight in combat, Second Lieutenant debriefing by Erich Hartmann had aerial tactics. 1. violated virtually every established rule of His tactical sins included: Separating from his leader without orders. 2. Flying into his leader's firing position. 3. Climbing through the cloud 4. Mistaking his leader for an enemy from whom layer. he had bolted after aircraft. The "enemy" descending through the clouds was Rossmann. 5. Failing to follow Rossmann's order to rejoin. 6. Losing orientation. 7. Destroying his aircraft without inflicting any damage on the enemy. Major von Bonin then told the crestfallen Erich that he would have to spend three days working with the maintenance crew punishment for these breaches of flying discipline. blond boy turned to in the following days with the A as contrite fitters and TO WAR 43 armorers. For the future ace of aces, was an ignominious be- it ginning. He more missions with Rossmann. Each time, he learned something new. Rossmann had an injured arm, and couldn't dogflew tough fight like the other the wing. Artist that he was, tigers in Rossmann had developed compensating .technique that Erich a could see was better than the grueling and dangerous turning bat- Rossmann was tles. a fighter who flew with his head. Surprise attacks were his forte. Erich noted how Rossmann He would waited before striking. enemy and wait while he made a quick study of the situaThe decision to attack was only affirmative if it could be thrust home with surprise. The other tough tigers in the squadron couldn't contain themselves if they saw an enemy aircraft. They ripped into the enemy immediately. Erich saw that Rossmann see his tion. was making kills steadily, about Rossmann's know what it was He and not taking hits. When Erich talked not seem to tactics to other pilots, they did this "see and decide" was before striking. Erich knew right. also overcame to see other aircraft with Rossmann. He combat blindness, the inability that had bedeviled him on his first mission his neophyte's describes this handicap of the new pilot in these terms: "This combat blindness on the You R/T to utterly confounding. is Your leader calls take care, that there are five strangers at one o'clock. stare in that direction, see nothing. Unless eyes. You this, it is hard combing the sky with your you have actually experienced to believe. combat flying. The handling of the aircraft is no longer uppermost in your mind. The senses adjust to new demands, and then you see the enemy aircraft just like an experienced leader. But if the man you are as"Later on, you develop an signed to fly acumen— to acumen for with does not give you a chance to develop this find yourself as a combat pilot—you will be shot down for sure. "This happened more and more as the war dragged on, and there were fewer and fewer good leaders who cared to break in THE BLOND KNIGHT ©F GERMANY 44 new most pilots, of whom, to the front with but a from 1943 onward, came fraction of the training I had been given. in the period make up a fighter who simply said to All kinds of fighters rough dogfighters kill and to hell "To be and sions with what happens to sent out as a perience to you, themselves, the mis- first have him lose you through not caring must be a devastating experience. the handmaiden of panic, and panic is make 'I'll of my wingman.' inexperienced boy on your little, lose your leader, or what happens and we had plenty unit, Inex- the father of is mistakes. "If had been assigned I mann's qualities and to another leader, without Paule Ross- skill, I would have followed different a pathway, developed a different attitude and probably would not have lasted as long. In the education of a fighter pilot it is what he shown first that helps him survive, and later equips him to bring his new comrades through. "When I became an element leader and later a squadron commander and group commander, I did everything in my power to guide new men through these important first few flights. I made is it I ti I a rule of was ie life to do this after my experience with Rossmann. like a kitten. rigid with fear of what might happen to He with Rossmann's reassuring presence. through this critical period, but he taught of the surprise attack, without become thing On I Suppose they had started with a tough and ruthless leader— we had plenty of them. off was my young boy, blind a just sat 5 which I am me it was, even not only brought me me the basic technique convinced another dogfighter, assuming that on shot as I I would have didn't get the off first." November 1942 Erich took off with First Lieutenant Treppe, the group commander's adjutant, in a four-ship Schwann scrambled near Digora at noon. Erich's combat sight was already good, and he quickly: called out the enemy Germans were periority, counting them up eighteen IL-2 Stormovik ground-attack aircraft with an escort of ten Lagg-3 fighters. the first, The odds were long numerically, but already accustomed to Soviet numerical su- which had been growing since the summer of 1942. In a portent of things to come, it was the experienced Lieuten- TO WAR ant Treppe 45 who could not see the Erich to take the lead, and attack. and from ship elements, enemy this time. He ordered The Germans split into two- their perch above and behind the Rus- The main mission was to disrupt the IL-2 attack against forward German transport. Erich and Treppe went slashing through the Red fighter screen firing briefly at selected targets as they tore down through the enemy ships at high speed. Leveling out at about 150 feet, Erich sians, went into a steep dive. took the IL-2 on the far ning speed, he opened the formation. Closing in at light- left of at less than a hundred yards. Hits! could see his cannon shells and machine-gun bullets strik- fire Hits! He ing the Stormovik. armor They were bouncing plate. All the old tigers The Stormovik was the toughest aircraft in the a talk that ace Alfred Grislawski he watched method now. "Try it, air. that heavy IL-2's armor. He remembered had given him about the IL-2 his ricocheting bullets. Stormovik. Grislawski had told lawski's Damn off! had warned about the There was a way him and he thought about Erich. Try it." He as to nail the Gris- was shouting aloud to himself over the roar of his guns. Pulling up and banking around, he IL-2. Coming in made another run on in a steep dive to just a the few feet above the ground, he dropped below the enemy machine and came up under- neath. This time he held his fire until two hundred feet away. The the Stormovik was about blast of his guns brought an im- A long tongue of flame came stabbing out with blowtorch intensity. The mediate belch of black smoke from the IL-2's empennage The oil cooler. of the IL-2 was quickly enveloped in flames. stricken Stormovik lunged eastward, leaving formation. Erich followed hard behind, his throttle at in a shallow dive. from under the A short, full idle, both sharp explosion and a flash of IL-2's wing, and aircraft fire came pieces of the Stormovik were hurled directly into Erich's flight path. His Me-109 trembled from a muffled explosion under the engine cowling. Smoke came bil- lowing back into his cockpit and streamed from under the engine doors. Erich took a quick survey. Altitude: too low for comfort. Posi- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 4^ tion: still on the German Good. side of the lines. He went rapidly through the preparations for another belly landing. Power back, master switch fuel off, ignition off. None too soon. Flames began leaping out from under the engine doors as he bellied down with fighter set a deafening roar of crumpling metal. parching cloud of dust swirled into the cockpit and choking The canopy back he saw of smoke and was enveloped Hartmann had As Erich pulled went roaring his A little death plunge. to earth, trailing a and then disintegrated with a convulsive air. scored his would present no kill Erich Crashing thunderously, the Stormovik fire. in flames, explosion that rocked the the fire. his late adversary take a over a mile farther east the IL-2 Erich left A as the aircraft slithered to a halt. dust pall had smothered the plume The in. difficulty. Confirming first aerial victory. Lieutenant Treppe circled the scene of Erich's crash, rocked his wings and flew away when he saw the victor was alive and mobile. Infantry swarming in the area picked up the quietly exultant Erich and took him back to his unit. Two weeks days later, in the hospital at Piatigorsk-Essentuki. mull over to Erich was stricken with fever and spent four all he had learned to lyzed his actions in the date. He had time there Again and again he ana- He dared to think that he was beHe had not repeated the disaster weeks previously. He had not broken air. ginning to learn his trade now. of his first mission three flying discipline, had held pass against the IL-2 before his fire better, had taught him a and the second good lesson. Get firing in close firing. had another important aspect that Erich had time to contemplate and analyze as he lay in the hospital. He had not lost his own aircraft through panic, stupidity and inexperience as in his first engagement, but he should have broken away more His first rapidly. He A victory quick breakaway would have seen him stay airborne. could have avoided the debris from the exploding IL-2 by breaking quickly. months he would perfect his four-step mode of "See - Decide - Attack - Reverse, or 'Coffee Break/" In the coming attack: TO WAR The 47 basic lesson of this victory. of attack was inherent in his His good fortune in flying not only kept him aerial tactics that tactics mode would alive, but had first him to with Paule Rossmann had set the pattern for the distinctive he would develop carry first in the coming months. These an unprecedented pinnacle of success, and on the way he would pass every tough old dogfighter that ever flew. » f Chapter Four WINNING HIS SPURS In war, if you are not able to beat your enemy at his always better to adopt some striking variant. . . own game, Winston When he rejoined felt his tempering of his earlier Plenty of time to do things to the found out what your limits were, he reasoned. mined that no enemy would protecting him. Paule would became good enough self. nail fever, Erich impetuous aghilt when you He was deter- Paule Rossmann while he was show him how it was done when you an element and do the to lead nearly Churchill, 1916 squadron after his bout with in himself a distinct gressiveness. it is . firing your- His admiration for Rossmann's elegant surprise attacks and long-range sharpshooting continued to increase, but the time soon afterward when he had to Squadron. His education in fly air fighting came with other aces of the 7th was expanding. Experts with long strings of victories and all winners of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, these tough aces for the most part used completely different a "head" flyer methods from Rossmann, who was without the muscles for dogfighting. Erich's natural analytical ability easily discerned the difference in techniques. observation and intuition he knew Rossmann's way was but from each of three hardened dogfighters with whom By the best, he now flew he learned something important. There was rugged Sergeant Dammers, old veteran who had won mers was a "muscle" a square-set, thirty-year- the Knight's Cross in August 1942. flyer, Dam- a hard-turning, aggressive dogfighter 20 YEARS OLD: Erich Hartmann on 28 Feb. 1942, weeks before his 20th birthday. Taken at ZerbstAnhalt, this photo was his graduation picture from six cadet school. ZADET HOME ON LEAVE: Ober- Hartmann home on military on transfer from basic training at ahnrich eave Veukuhren 3atow to flight training at Berlin- late in February 1941. FATHER AND SON: 1 October 1942 at Weil im Schdenbuch, Dr. Alfred Hart- mann and his neophyte fighter pilot son, watch an airplane fly over the village. Erich had just graduated from the combat fighter pilot school and was being Erich, posted to the Russian front. GRAF PUNSKI: Walter Krupin shown here with two JG52 pilots, sec 197 aerial victories while flying more t 1,100 combat sorties. He was and remc one of Hartmann's best friends. (Krupinski Collecti COMBAT LEADER: Edmund TACTICS TUTOR: Josef "Jupp" Zwer- "Paule" Rossman led Hartmann on his first nemann flew as flight leader with Hartmann, FIRST combat sortie, for Hartmann. which nearly ended Rossman scored 93 ingia, in disaster From Caaschwitz in Thur- victories before the Russians caught him after a forced landing near Orel in 1943. He survived the war. (Toliver Collection) ERSTWHILE WINGMAN FOR RALL AND HARTMANN: Lt. Hans-Joachim Birkner flew as wingman to both Gunther Rail and Erich Hartmann during his early combat days. He went on to score 117 vic- tories before crashing to his death while on a flight test mission atKrakau, Poland on the 14th of December 1944. (Toliver Collection) teaching him that point-blank range was the best way to get a victory. Zwernemann was by a Mustang pilot near Lake Garda, losing his life on 8 April later shot in his parachute 1944. His record: 126 aerial victories. VICTORY CEREMONY IN R USSIA: GuentherRall is honored by his squadron mates down his 200th enemy aircraft, 29 August 1943 after shooting at Makeevka, Russia. Left to right are Broschwitz, Stefaner, Walter Krupinski and Rail, Frink. (Krupinski Collection) « mm JVJHH 1 mm, MUD WAS AN ENEMY IN This JG52 Me- 109 had to be dragged to drier ground after the thaws in the Spring of 1944 in the Ukraine. RUSSIA: (Krupinski Collection) LUCKY EX-BOMBER PILOT TURNED FIGHTER: Giinther Capito, center, Hartmann'ssole wingman shot top was to be down while flying with the ace. A converted bomber pilot, Capito failed to horse his Me-109 into a turn sharp enough to avoid an attack This photo taken in 1960. (Capito) V FIRST PORTRAIT AFTER WINNING THE RITTERKREUZ: Erich Hartmann shot down enemy airplane on his 386th combat USSR, on 29 October 1943. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz and sent home on leave. Erich wears the rank of Lieutenant. Since July 5th, 1943, he had scored 131 aerial victories. Early in the war the Ritterkreuz had been awarded for just 20 victories! his 148th sortie, over Kirovograd, A T HOME 14 JUNE 1984— ENGAGED: This is the official engagement photo taken when Erich was home on leave. At this time he had 1 7 aerial victories. WITH HIS LOVED ONES: Mother Elisabeth Hartmann and father Alfred are happy whei son came home on leave engagement during a previous leave in June. their Ritterkreuz-wir.ning in October 1943. Erich and Usch had announced thei WINNING HIS SPURS who could physically wear kill. Keeping Dammers's 49 down his foe before moving in for the taught Erich some of the car- tail clear dinal drawbacks of dogfighting, including vulnerability to other aircraft in the attacked formation and more Alfred Grislawski was still used lots of loss of overview. of a head flyer than muscles as well. Cross the previous summer, and it He also Dammers, but had won his Knight's was he who had apprised Erich of the vulnerable oil cooler underneath the IL-2. As analytical as he was aggressive, Grislawski was one of the top Stormovik-busters in on JG-52 and a thoughtful tactician. Later in the war, he stepped a mine at a Black Sea beach and was badly injured, but he survived the conflict with 133 victories and Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross. First Lieutenant Josef head flyer. Zwernemann was a when Erich Twenty-six years old muscle and fifty-fifty flew with him as his wingman, Zwernemann then had over sixty victories. He died in action on 8 April 1944 near Lake Garda in Italy after a wild dogfight. One of his conquerors ignobly shot he bailed These three something that was markedly tigers all did range assaults were at skill in his parachute after out. ent from Rossmann's tactics. seem him at long range relatively first They closed in to Nevertheless, foes. Erich if the best point-blank no doubt of the Dammers and Zwernemann remembered, too, that his own first close-in strike against an IL-2. He Rossmann's aircraft in this fashion there was ability of Grislawski, from a differ- Their short- a surprise to Erich, because had made shooting down easy. fire. to kill down their had come found himself wondering method might not be Rossmann's surprise tactics plus firing. Flying with these experts as a wingman, Erich got few chances to shoot again himself. easy task. Keeping the leeches off their tails was no movement of the Furthermore, the almost constant 7th Squadron from airfield to airfield did not allow Erich to settle down. In January, 7th Squadron moved from Mineral'nyye Amavir German ground troops, but within a advancing Red Army made the new base untenable. to protect retreating few days the to THE BLOND KNIGHT 50 GERMANY OyF Erich watched in anguish while nine good Me-109's were blown up because bad weather made their flight out impossible. Makeshift bases subsequently at Krasnodar, Maykop and Timoshevskaya tional had all to be evacuated in turn. After a short opera- period at Slavyanskaya, 7th Squadron finally shifted to Nikolaev, where was reunited with it new combat hard, hectic times for a III pilot, Gruppe. They were and there were signs that conditions were getting even harder. When Captain Sommer, the fiftieth victory CO. of 7th Squadron, scored his on 10 February 1943 he was refused the Knight's Cross to his Iron Cross. In the past, Front had been fifty victories on the Eastern sufficient for the Knight's Cross, but now the requirements, like the struggle against Russia, had significantly stiffened. The Knight's Cross seemed a remote and unattainable goal to Erich in January He did not score his second victory until 27 February 1943. new and dynamic personality appeared on the Squadron scene, an officer who was destined to give Erich Soon afterward, 7th and February 1943. solid a impetus toward the top— First Lieutenant Walter Krupinski. Appointed Captain Sommer, Krupinski was the same to replace smiling tiger who had escaped so narrowly from his crash-landed Me-109, the day Erich arrived at the front at Maykop. The new CO. of 7th Squadron took over his command in typical fashion, earning Erich's immediate respect and awe. Krupinski arrived at Taman Kuban, introduced himself as the new squadron commander, and asked immediately for a serviceable fighter. He went up, was promptly shot down and bailed out. Brought back to the field by car, he demanded another Me-109, took off again immediately, and this time scored two ing intact to the airfield. commander: he was There was no doubt about a tiger, kills, this return- squadron and he obviously didn't need any tightly ordered discipline in leading his soldiers. Erich liked Kru- pinski immediately. The new squadron commander's to next request was for a wingman be assigned to him. His hell-for-leather reputation had preceded him, and the NCO pilots were reluctant to assume the responsibil- WINNING HIS SPURS protecting him. Paule ity of 51 Rossmann came to Erich as a repre- sentative of the sergeants. "Would you please Lieutenant Krupinski's wingman, fly as First Erich?" "Why? Don't the sergeants want the job?" Rossmann appeared a little embarrassed. "The old timers say that he is a sharp officer," said Paule, "but he can't fly. They think it is better all around if an officer is his wingman. Will you do it?" Erich found Rossmann hard to refuse. He agreed to see Kru- was unhappy about the whole thing when he offered pinski. Erich himself to the of the sergeants new squadron commander, because many were decorated veterans and usually knew a good fighter lamb going to the from pilot a bad one. Erich felt a little like a slaughter. Krupinski's bullish bluntness did little to ease Erich's mind. A strapping, five-foot nine-inch famous dynamo, Krupinski was already by the spring of 1943 as one of its outstanding characters and playboys. Walter Krupinski was a ripe, in the Luftwaffe mature personality who looked and acted— on the military side of his life at least— far beyond his years. After six months' duty in the Reich Labor Service he was drafted as a Fahnenjunker (Cadet) in the Luftwaffe He had been on 1 September 1939. a senior cadet, and later as a commissioned end of 1941 and had once flown as the great "Macky" Steinhoff's wingman. He was a successful and famous officer, flying as since the JG-52 ace with over seventy offered his services as a victories at the time Erich Hartmann wingman. Krupinski was destined to end the war as the fifteenth-ranked fighter ace of the world with 197 victories, and land's elite at the surrender he was a member of Adolf Gal- Squadron of Experts in JV-44, flying the Me-262 jet fighter. Krupinski's exploits through the years had earned him Taman. He had tion for toughness that preceded him chant for getting himself into impossible wounds, bail-outs and crash landings. the Kuban River, coming down in a to He a reputa- situations, a pen- and for once belly-landed near meadow which the German " THE BLOND KNIGHT Of GERMANY 52 had mined. As infantry his shattered kite slid along the grass it tripped a series of mines, and Krupinski immediately concluded that he was being Krupinski's for cover. bombarded by artillery. first impulse was to jump out of the plane and bolt life was saved by a German infantry sergeant who His bawled out the explosive facts bered clear of the cockpit. The about the field to soldiers took him as two hours he clam- to extricate him, walking out to him and testing the ground with sticks as they came. His career was a skein of similar incidents, culminating in the last months of the war when he was enjoying himself on recuperation leave at the Fighter Pilots' Home in Bad Wiessee. At SteinhofFs urging, he took reluctant leave of a big barrel of cognac provided for the pilots and flew the Me-262 in Galland's JV-44. Krupinski's spewing mind as "Sir, crash live arrival at ammunition he confronted this Maykop, with the burning in all directions, was fresh fighter in Erich's formidable personality. my name is Hartmann. I am to be your wingman." "Been out here long?" "No, sir. About three months." "Any victories?" "Two, sir." "Who have you been flying with?" "Rossmann mainly, but also with Dammers, Zwernemann and Grislawski." "They're all good men. We'll get along all right. That's all for now." Walter Krupinski retired as General and a Lt. is living in West Germany.His only recollection of Neunkirchen^Seelscheid his first meeting with Erich Hartmann is an indelible impression of in Erich's extreme youth. "He appeared not much more than full of life. As he walked away from myself, 'Such a young a me mere baby. So young and that first Guenther Rail, I thought to face.' This same impression of Erich was shared at tain day this time by Cap- who had become Gruppenkommandeur of III/JG-52 in place of von Bonin, in the same shuffle that brought Krupinski to command No. 7 Squadron. Later we will make fuller WINNING HIS SPURS 53 contact with Guenther Rail as one of JG-52's greatest aces, but time parallels that of Krupinski. his recollection of Erich at this saw him [Erich] "I only, first Squadron mess, and in the 7th He 'What, a young boy— a baby/ stood out first I thought for his ex- treme youth, but quickly came to everyone's attention because he was a good marksman." Erich and Krupinski took to the air the following day with disturbing initial impressions of each other. Erich was sure that he was flying with a wild tiger who could not fly, and Krupinski was The first mission was sufficient to change Erich's mind about his new leader. The new squadron commander waded into the enemy like a barroom brawler, a batteringly aggressive and fearless pilot who sure he was flying could not only with a baby on his wing. fly like a demon, but Krupinski's purported inability to also fly keep a clear tactical head. was obviously a yarn without foundation. Nevertheless, Krupinski could not shoot straight and ammunition went wide.* Krupinski's weakness was therefore supplemented by Erich's strength as a marksman, for Erich had been a natural sharpshooter from the day he riddled his first drogue in training. Together, Krupinski and Erich formed a most of his winning combat team. Erich began by sticking close to Krupinski, and as they entered shooting range, decreased his air speed and went to his leader's reverse as he pulled up or broke. This gave Erich shoot, "filling in the holes Kruppi had left." A a few seconds to couple of additional victories came this way. Soon they realized that they could depend on each other, and as Krupinski coached Erich they began to read each other's minds in combat, as have teams in When all the great fighter history. Krupinski went into an attack, Erich would stay "on the and telling him what to do if another enemy aircraft intervened. During Erich's attacks, Krupinski stayed on the perch and called out instructions to Erich to perch," watching his leader's back improve his attack or take evasive action. Erich voice on the R/T rasping the heard Krupinski's same order over and over * Straight shot or not, the indomitable Krupinski shot aircraft in slightly over 1100 sorties. again. down 197 enemy THEBLOND 54 "Hey, Bubi! Get in KNIGflT You're opening closer. GERMANY 0*F fire too far out." Erich was emulating Rossmann, with long-range attacks. hitting well time he every shooting Krupinski, but if he closed in on many young air that it fired, come was which impressed the poorer- was obvious he would do even better his targets. pilots He As Krupinski who to us later said: could not "We had so hit anything in the Erich stood out immediately with his accurate long-range gunnery." From him "Bubi" Krupinski's constantly calling Erich's nickname, which he has retained in the air to this day. came The whole squadron was soon calling him "Bubi," and the name stuck. Krupinski's steady urgings, "Hey, Bubi, get in closer," encour- The closer he got to his foe, the when he fired. Few shots went wide. aged Erich to close his ranges. more devastating the Often the other effect aircraft could be seen to stagger under the multi- gun blast at close range. Even more often, there was an explosion in the air as the other machine disintegrated. down that way, they Soon Erich had would never come back up fully developed the When they went again. tactics of air fighting from which he would never subsequently depart. The magical four steps were: "See - Decide - Attack - Reverse, or 'Coffee Break/" In lay terms, spot the enemy, decide surprised, attack or if if he can be attacked and him and break away immediately he spots you before you strike, after striking; take a "coffee break"— wait- enemy and don't get into a turning battle with a foe who knows you are there. The rigid observance of this tactical sequence carried Erich Hartmann to the top. pull off the Erich's successful warm partnership in the air with Krupinski led on the ground. Krupinski's nickname, "Graf Punski," was not something conjured out of thin air, but was appropriate to a debonair ladies' man and social lion. naturally to a friendship "Count Punski" enjoyed life in the huge fashion which his physique, stamina and dashing manner united to make possible. All guts and claws in the air, he was all charm and polish on the ground, a happy, handsome fighter pilot. Flying came first with Krupinski, but the second requirement was the construction of a bar wherever the squadron was quar- WINNING HIS SPURS tered. Every eligible 55 German within thirty miles belonged to girl the zestful Krupinski. As Erich says of Punski eagerly learned I many bad Sinatra type, charming, sharp both in the air after the war, like and him a lover. A and on the ground, he grew but inside the old lies today: He things. "From Graf was the Frank gentleman 'criminal' serious Kruppi—a tiger on the outside without teeth, me." Under Krupinski' s guidance, Erich ran his score to five by 24 March 1943. His first five kills were scored as follows: Down Nov 1942 Missions Flown 1 IL-2 Shot 27 Jan 1943 9 Feb 1943 10 Feb 1943 24 Mar 1943 Missions Flown 1 MIG-i Shot Down 5 Erich's Cross, fifth Missions Flown 1 Missions Flown 1 Missions Flown 1 him victory entitled 2nd Class—his first Lagg-3 Shot Down Douglas Boston Shot U-2 Shot Down Down to the award of the decoration. He was not yet under the Luftwaffe system, to the honorary status of Germans adhered victories at this time to the First World War Iron entitled, ace. The criterion of ten aerial victories for acedom. Near the end of April 1943, with 110 missions as a wingman to his credit, Erich was well qualified to become an element leader (Rottenfiihrer) * With eight victories at the time he was given an element, Erich added three more by 30 April 1943. Flying with Krupinski had been an unforgettable experience, but Erich had his own ideas about tactics, based on his first missions with Rossmann and enlarged by dozens of missions flown with experienced dogfighters. As an element leader, he could at last do things his own way. Erich already had his lethal four-step attack mind. He set in his was resolved on one other aspect of leadership that he * In the Luftwaffe In the U.S. a Rotte consisted of 2 aircraft a method Schwarm was had 12 Gruppe had 3 2 Rotten (4 a Staff el aircraft a Staffeln a Jagdgeschwader had 3 aircraft) Gruppen = = = = = element flight squadron group division THE BLOND KNIGHT oV GERMANY $6 w ould never change or modify. Like his attack method, it had been born of his first experience with Paule Rossmann: "Never lose a wingman." known Erich Hartmann, and In the years the authors have the hours they have spent discussing his all is life and career, there only one aspect of his military achievements in which the himself takes pride. Russian Front air war to wingman." The long up to the That was live up to his own rule— "Never lose a string of victories, the decorations all the Russian jails, man his ability during the worst of the Diamonds, even the moral triumph a half years of in he can of surviving ten way and discuss with detachment, ob- and modesty. His ability to keep his young and inexperienced wingmen alive— and never lose one of them— is a memjectivity ory and an achievement he rightly cherishes. Only one wingman who flew with the ace of aces was ever shot down, and he survived the experience uninjured. bomber named Major Guenther pilot Capito, He was a former who was sent to Gruppe near the end of the war without any conversion training. Aged thirty-two, Capito was making his transition to fighter piloting rather late, but it was the only way for him to avoid being grounded. In Capito's own words: "It was Erich Hartmann's not an easy adjustment to make." The men to each other was to have many new German Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s. reaction of the two echoes in the Capito gives his 1945 impression of Erich Hartmann in these terms: "The first shattering. had of Bubi Hartmann was not earthstood in front of me was a dangling, sloppy impression What I young man with untamable blond hair under kled cap. He had he deserved to his a tedious slow drawl. nickname, and I I a completely wrin- thought to myself that asked myself, This is supposed be a commander?' "During the next few days these thoughts were not dispelled, except for the fact that he did have some sort of temperament. When one spoke about flying, fighter pilots or combat, then he and spoke up, loud and clear. Then one could feel that he was a wholesome person, and thanks to his youth, com- came to life WINNING HIS SPURS pletely uninhibited. mander, and 57 However, I still him couldn't see as a com- impression never changed until the end of the this war/' A bomber well as a unit. life, his man to boot, as home with a fighter peacetime-trained professional and an older The Capito was not at pilot, freewheeling informality of the front-line fighter pilot's which Erich had found so much to temperament, tended to jar his liking and so suited to on Guenther Capito. The former bomber pilot was nevertheless eager to fly as Erich's wingman and asked him every day for this opportunity. Erich's response was to try and dissuade Capito, telling him that the war would soon be over, and that a bomber an Me-109 would pilot in inevitably have grave difficulties. Capito continued to press for his chance to The fly as Erich's wingman. ace of aces finally agreed, and to better orient the former bomber pilot to the greater pace and heavier demands of him on seat fighter piloting, specifically briefed close to his leader. Capito single- the need to stay was warned of the tight turns that were an integral part of fighter action. In an air battle with Airacobras, Hartmann and Capito were bounced by two higher Russian elements. Erich the ensuing action in his the story of tells own words: "I let the Russian fighters close in to firing range, calling to Capito to stay close to me. cerning which I I It was had briefed him just the kind of situation con- When earlier. the Russians fired, broke into them horizontally in a very steep turn, but Capito could not stay with me. He made a standard rate bomber turn. After a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn he and the attacking Airacobras were opposite me. "I now called to sandwich the Red turn he got bail hit. I him fighters, and his but in his second, standard-rate saw the whole thing and ordered him out immediately. aircraft to turn hard opposite, so that To my immense relief I parachute blossom, but I to I could bomber dive and saw him leave the was brassed off at his inability to follow instructions. "I got burst the behind the Airacobra, closed right enemy fighter in, and after a short went down and crashed with a tremendous THE BLOND KNIGBT 58 GERMANY T F explosion about two miles from Capito's touchdown point by parachute and about a mile from our base. this Airacobra down, but my intuition not to I mad was was happy I to get at myself for not harkening to with Guenther Capito." fly Erich flew back to base, got a car and picked up the crestfallen Capito. They drove The over to the crashed Russian fighter. pilot was a captain, and he had been hurled out of the ship on impact and killed. He had a huge amount of German money on him, something close to twenty thousand marks. This was the only occasion in fourteen hundred combat missions that one Hartmann's wingmen met with a mishap. Guenther Capito survived uninjured, and retired as a colonel in the feelings after being shot "I was terribly of Erich like Erich Hartmann, new German Air Force. He describes his down: humbled and felt that I should be on my knees. my spirits. Not even a visit to the crash of my enemy could lift The dead Russian had twenty-five victories, and I was his twentysixth. "My conqueror was therefore not such a rabbit as I was. the evening, at the 'birthday party' traditionally given to who survive death, did I Only in all pilots slowly begin to recover." Colonel Capito was taken prisoner at war's end with Erich was transferred by the American Army to Soviet custody. -He was in Russian jails until 1950. Today he re- Hartmann, and later sides in Troisdorf, near Bonn. Although Erich's chances to score began leading an element to keep his wingmen safe. kills were multiplied once he in the spring of 1943, He went he was determined through a period of running-in an element leader while he developed his distinctive attacking style and maintained a constant eye for his wingman's safety. For as a time, the impress of the ebullient Krupinski could be seen on his This emulation of Krupinski was only natural in a young and impressionable man who deeply admired another, and leadership. especially his quality of leadership. Events, experience responsibilities soon caused Erich to abandon and new his efforts to be like Krupinski. He couldn't be like another man and still be himself. As his own WINNING HIS SPURS man going his own 59 own quality of leadership BimmeFs devotion on the ground way, he developed his and men followed him naturally. exemplified this In the spirit. his regard for the safety of his air, wingmen not only helped temper his natural impulsiveness, but also evoked confidence and devotion among those who flew with him. He always brought them back. By 25 May 1943 he had added another six victories. He took off at dawn on that day and within minutes had driven home a bounce on a Soviet Lagg-9. Breaking off the attack he went climbing into the sun, and while half-blinded, collided in mid-air with another Lagg-9. Cautious flying and an old glider-pilot's skill him to get his crippled Me-109 back into German territory. He made his fifth belly landing just inside the German lines. His allowed nerves were jangled enough by this encounter to warrant sending him home for a on his way to his brief leave. issued orders personal idea of luxury—a Germany Getting back to the Russian Hrabak month and he was soon in Stuttgart. and hardship of Erich's morale. Usch after the discomfort Front was a big boost for looked lovelier than he could ever remember. There were deep armchairs to sit in, soft beds with clean sheets at night, and none of the incessant pressure of the front. Once at night he snapped upright and awake imaginary cry of "Break! Break!"— the warning Feeling foolish, he slumped back down hundreds of miles away. Or was it still in bed to the yell of a in the bed. wingman. The war was so far? Lying quietly in the gloom, he thought about events as they were unfolding. Until the spring of 1943 the Allied bombing raids on Germany were not alarming. The German night fighter force had been fairly successful and the effectiveness of the RAF at night had not been cause for too much alarm. Nevertheless, the enemy was unquestionably getting stronger, dropping ing bigger raids. When a damage was massive. The previous spring had started this trend. at once, the German propaganda minimized recent Whole RAF attack villages more bombs, and conduct- thousand bombers tackled a target RAF assault on Cologne the Allied attacks, especially the on the Mohne and Eder dams in the Ruhr. had been wiped out by the rampaging water re- THEBLOND KNIGHT 60 leased these attacks, in British radio ers it was and part of Kassel had been propaganda was promising an increasing Germany. For Front, OF GERMANY a fighter pilot battling his heart out a disturbing flooded. air assault on on the Russian thought that thousands of Allied bomb- ranged over the fatherland every day and night. The next day Erich walked into the living room of his parents' home in Weil during a radio speech by Reichsmarschall Goering. His father sat listening to Goering's ranting fantasies with a quizzical expression on his face. Turning down the volume control, he looked directly at Erich. "Listen, Him on my boy. Today, 'hosanna in high places. we win the Cross/ Never, never will Tomorrow, put this war. What a mistake and what a waste." Dr. Hartmann knew the world too well, with his rich back- ground and knowledge of human beings, ever by propaganda. He had been to be hoodwinked saying similar things to Erich since theme was constant— the war would end in disaster for Germany. Goering's reassurances meant nothing. Word about the massive new bombings was spreading through Germany, and Dr. Hartmann met many people in his medical practice who had seen the damage in other cities. 1939. His For the first time, Erich felt the disquiet of the German civil population. His parents were anxious about his safety. Usch could not conceal her unhappiness. For all the gaiety of the final days of felt by no longer be concealed. Hardened to his leave, the and felt at his vigor. depth of concern do home, he hurled himself back On 5 his best fighters, his best single day's score to date. Marring airfield, in for craft With this triumph Erich saddened. strikes in Me-109 the only partial control of his rudder, Krupinski oil came an immediate landing, knowing that the damage precluded any kind of go-around. Just as he made emergency landing, the all four Lagg-5 Krupinski's was heavily hit in the empennage, including cooler area. war with downed disaster that left In a wild battle over 7th Squadron's could by what he saw into the air July 1943, in four missions, he was another typical Krupinski home his loved ones at to his air- alert flight took off at his ninety degrees to his landing direction. Fighting his stricken ship down, Krupinski could WINNING HIS SPURS see that he would have to make a ground loop or collide with the departing alert flight. Around he went, and much 6l The outer brake. swung as the kite fighter laterally nosed over onto its he applied too back, the violent motion smashing Krupinskf s head into the gunsight. ing half-conscious in his safety belt him two minutes Smothered later. when in He was hang- the crash crews reached blood and drenched in gaso- he almost panicked because he thought the gasoline was line, clammy blood in his clothes. and he was whisked away his skull and was out of for The crash crews dragged medical attention. combat for six weeks. He had him clear fractured His departure hit the squadron a heavy blow, and left Erich anxious for his comrade. Erich kept flying hard. Good comrades were being lost all the time. Five other pilots, one-third of the entire squadron, were lost the same day Two count. as Krupinski. days later, and three Erich's guns The war four more IL-2's as now had twenty-two confirmed could not stop on that acLagg-5's well—seven victories went down under kills in one day. He and the 7th Squadron total rose to 750. The next day, four more Lagg-5's went down. There was no longer any question in Erich's and effective mode 'Coffee Break/ 99 His shooting eye continued to improve and in ac- tion after action firing. he deliberately went At the point where most that he was still too far out. He sion of getting too close to his opening the fire, mind that he had found a sound - Decide - Attack - Reverse, or of attack. "See the in closer and closer before attackers broke away, Erich found down his natural apprehenenemy. The closer he got before fought more devastating the effect and the more certain kill. August 1943 ne na d forty-six confirmed victories. Two days later at 1830 hours near Kharkov, a Lagg-5 went down in flames and brought his tally to fifty kills. At one time, this would have By been tories 1 sufficient to win him the Knight's Cross, but now more vic- He had conquered much of his earlier imnow clearly a young leader of promise and were required. maturity and was ability. Guenther Rail, as Gruppenkommandeur of III/JG-52, had care- THEBLOND 62 watched Erich's fully progress. K N I &H T T F GERMANY There had been times when Rail could have given Erich a squadron, but he refrained from pushing the promising newcomer too By August fast. that Erich could handle a squadron, mand Squadron 9th the and appointed him the after The squadron— the tories—and it had first man to com- to squadron leader, previous Lieutenant Korts, was killed in action.* Graf's old 1943, Rail decided 9th was Hermann win two hundred aerial vic- a fighting tradition. Erich rose to his responsibilities. Four missions a day was com- monplace, and with the Russian offensive 5 ten more August 1943 Erich raised eighty added and by 17 August 1943 ne na ^ tying Baron Manfred von Rich thof en's First World War record. By the end of September his score to sixty victories, the lifetime 1943, with 115 victories, Erich victory tally "Daddy" Moelders, who had been the down 100 to aircraft in aerial warring power, Erich national hero. common win truly his On the of first combat. In the Hartmann by this had immortal Werner fighter ace in history air force of any other time would have been a the Russian Front, 100 victories was a relatively achievement, and before his spurs flaxen-haired and days to find. in the next three days, victories, surpassed on the south- enemy was not hard ern sector of the Eastern Front, the On in full cry a young knight of the he would have to reach 150 air victories. could The young squadron leader kept racking up the triumphs, of multiple downings became more and more frequent as confidence grew. However, Russian aircraft and pilots were came much harder, now. Lt. Erich Hartmann scored getting better too. Victories On 29 October 1943, his 150th vic- tory. He was all but level now with Krupinski, who had scored his 150th kill on 1 October 1943. But Krupinski had been in combat since 1939-1940. Since 27 February 1943, Erich kills, had scored 148 an outstanding achievement in eight months. This feat won Erich Hartmann the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the coveted badge of achievement among German fighter Lieutenant Korts had been on leave most of August, was awarded the Knight's Cross on 29 August and disappeared with his element leader in * combat that same day. WINNING HIS SPURS pilots. When news of the Mertens was exultant. "If 63 award reached squadron HQ, Bimmel He pumped his young chief's hand. you keep going like this, I know you are going to be the greatest of all the fighter pilots—none will stand above you/' Bimmers enthusiasm knew no bounds, and Erich thought to himself, as his crew chief wrung his hand, owed quietly how much he to this devoted comrade. "Bimmel/' said Erich, "you are completely reach the top it will be because my aircraft never crazy, failed but if I me— thanks to you." On 29 October 1943 Erich had the formal trappings of a Knight of the Air. He waffe who won flyers was one of approximately thirteen hundred Luftthe Knight's Cross. His escutcheon was a bleeding heart painted on the fuselage of his fighter. big, red, The heart was labeled "Usch" and an arrow pierced he was Karaya One (Sweetheart One) and coveted Knight's Cross. and with them a prize with his beloved Usch. it. In the at his throat air was the The Blond Knight had won his spurs, he valued far more— two weeks at home Chapter Five THE BEAR'S GRASP IN Only he who lost is gives himself up for lost. —Anonymous T he thunder of the Russian artillery throughout the night of 19 August 1943 was heavy enough to keep Erich awake for long He had periods. flown his three hundredth mission that day and was bone-tired, but the rolling timpani of the guns denied him sleep. A big Red push was afoot. In the uneasy predawn minutes the bad news spread through the 7th Squadron's base at Kutey- nikovo in the Donets Basin. The Russians had broken through. The encirclement of large German Army units was threatened. Erich rolled off his cot and pulled on his clothes as the squadron prepared for a panic scramble. and forth as the sleepy pilots the half-light. The base came Rumors were being babbled back came boiling out of their tents in alive with the shattering roar of fighter engines bursting into action. Since Krupinski's crash in July, Erich had been acting as commander He strode Kommodore of of 7th Squadron. over to the hut where Colonel Dietrich Hrabak, JG-52, was directing operations. Cool and precise as always, Hrabak quickly apprised Erich of the situation. "Your squadron be will take the first mission, flying overlapping missions all Hartmann. day to keep the We will air clear of Rus- sian fighter-bombers." .Hrabak's finger stabbed down on an area map. "The main breakthrough is here. Rudel's Stukas will be giv- ing them hell. Protect the Stukas and make the Russian fighter- IN THE BEAR'S GRASP bombers your primary 6$ no enemy target. If opposition appears, air Red Army. Get going and Hals und Beinbruch"* him and briefed them. strafe the Erich gathered his seven pilots around They would "If his I in fly open wingman give the order to attack, every element leader. is If own leader fights his target battle formation. give the order to attack, every element I on the perch, and when stays element attacks while gaggles, then every nobody blames element attacks on me attack I any breaches of for If own its first, the sec- pull up, the second I watch from the perch. I Number One with his element. air battle the fighter-bombers and bombers. If ond element stays like glue to we run into initiative. I huge hope Hals und air discipline. Beinbruch!" Minutes later, with Karaya Erich strode up to Bimmel, waiting anxiously One all ready. "All O.K.?" said Erich. Bimmel nodded. Erich knew his crew chief was always ready. Probably Bimmel had been up for a couple of hours fussing over the aircraft. As he scrambled into the cockpit and tucked his para- how fortunate he was to his ship. Erich hooked up his chute under him, Erich thought again have the trusty Bimmel in charge of but safety belt let it lie loosely comfortably in the tight cockpit. Fuel selector open three, four, five times automatic . . . . . . . . . on his lap, so he could operate He ran through the drill. throttle one-third open water-cooling closed master ignition on both. ... while two mechanics cranked the inertia . . . . . . prime propeller to went smoothly All starter. The whirring grind rose in pitch. "Free!" The mechanic's cry signified the propeller was Erich pulled the clutch and the prop began turning. caught immediately, blurting into life and filling clear. The engine the air with its smooth thunder. Erich checked his * German oil pressure, fuel pressure, sporting term used by flyers, skiers ammeter and and others in cool- hazardous work. Literally, "break your bones," but through usage a valediction of good luck. The superstitious flyers thought luck, so took the opposite approach. it bad luck to be directly wished good THE BLOND KNIGHT ot GERMANY 66 ing system, then each of the solidly. two magnetos The rpm in turn. held Taxiing across to the take-off point, he gave Bimmel a high thanks for a well-serviced sign, a pilot's silent a final all-around check. seat belt, aircraft. His bird was ready to he gunned the Messerschmitt into the went racing fly. Erich made Tightening his soft wind and she across the grass. Lifting easily to his touch, she soared aloft as the first fingers of sunshine stroked the high cloud. His landing gear came up and locked in with a gentle thud. checked his switches. The flaps and moved the trim and turned on electrical gunsight was ready to his bird and his R/T Climbing away from the fight. began turning east into a bloody sunrise. his were operative. field, He gun Now Erich Black palls of smoke up into the heavens to the northeast marked the battle "Not more than ten minutes flight, Erich." He spoke aloud roiling zone. Then he craned to himself. around, looking again at the rest of his fighting flock. Quickly he counted them. Lieutenant Puis on his own wing. Lieutenant Orje Blessin leading the second element, with Sergeant Jiirgens as his wingman. The second section was in good shape, too. Lieutenant Joachim Birkner was leading, a pilot Erich own wingman. Birkner was a head and had broken in as his good shot. Sergeant Bachnik led the second element with Lieu- tenant Wester on his wing. Battle-ready flyer a and confident, eight Me-109's with the Blond Knight leading went racing to their rendezvous with Rudel's Stukas. smoke and the stabbing flashes of shellbursts over a wide area below showed the line of the barrage and the heavy, front-line fighting. As Erich and his squadron closed in on the batPillars of scene, tle plastering was a they could see about forty dive-bomber Stormoviks German infantry with bombs. For every Stormovik there Russian fighter over the area, about forty Lagg-5's and YAK-a's circling warily. Erich went diving down through the fighters, firing briefly at on the way through. Then the Messerschmitts fell on the low-level Stormoviks. Every one of the hated steel-clads they downed would take pressure off their comrades in the in- selected targets fantry. THE BEAR'S GRASP IN Coming up 67 into firing position behind an IL-2 at high speed, Erich carefully watched the closing distance. . .150 yards . . . Looming kling. . Two hundred yards 100 yards ... the range diminished in a twin- Stormovik in a vast black mass, the filled Erich's windshield at 75 yards or less. A short burst from all guns. A massive explosion blasted downward from the Russian machine and its port wing sheared off. went racing at high speed Erich broke away instantly after firing and after another low-flying Stormovik. The second Stormovik was with in Karaya fire. an One "Not to 100 yards. toughest bird in the from for a stiff burst The Stormovik on ground his Ob- targets. closed the distance to firing position astern out instant. Erich again held Down tail. intent he was hosing the German infantry livious to Erich's presence, all the last possible moment. close enough, Erich. This IL-2 At 50 air." till the is yards Erich squeezed his triggers guns. sagged, shuddered and flared alight from nose to Erich pulled up hard over the stricken IL-2, ready to swing back into the other ground-strafing Stormoviks. Explosions backfires banged and like under the fuselage of Karaya One. jarred Erich saw one of his engine doors fly off and whip away astern smoke came the slipstream. Choking blue in belching back into the cockpit. He was talking aloud to himself again. pened, Erich? Flak, ground fire, "What in hell has hap- from the stray shells air battle? Which? Never mind! Get out of here and head west while you can. Quick! Before this damned bird goes in." He made a steep turn to the west and pulled his throttle back. Ignition and fuel switches off. "Yes, she's going large one, lots of sunflowers ease her down, Erich you to The . . . . in. . . But where? There's a head for it. just like the gliders a field, Ease her down . . . your mother taught fly." fighter came down easily, and bucked its way a grinding of metal. Erich would walk away from buckled his parachute and made Reaching forward retaining studs this one. He un- ready to leave the "bent" fighter. to the instrument panel, on the to a halt with aircraft clock. he began undoing the Standing orders required all THE BLOND KNIGIT of GERMANY 68 pilots surviving belly landings to take these precision instruments with them, since the clocks were in short supply. Struggling with the milled studs that anchored the clock, Erich felt a little "Damn let-down from the action. get any breakfast this morning—" He broke it, Erich. off his You didn't monologue as movement caught his eye through the dusty windshield. A German truck came rumbling into view. He felt relieved. He didn't know how far he had flown west before the belly landing, but the German truck was reassuring. Luftwaffe pilots landing behind Sowere seldom heard from again. viet lines He went on battling with the clock, and glanced up as he heard the truck brakes squeal. He did an alarmed double take. Two down from the truck bed wearing a strange-looking uniform. German infantrymen wore green-gray tunics. These soldiers were clad in yellow-gray uniforms. Then the hulking soldiers jumped men two turned in the direction of the crashed fighter and Erich skin crawl with fear. felt his The These Russians were using faces a they were about to capture a were captured German Asiatic. German to go with truck, it. cold sweat as the two Russians approached. out in a get out and escape, they would shoot remained. He must feign injury. and now Erich broke If he tried to him down. Only one choice He would deceive them into thinking he had been injured internally in a crash landing. I Ie feigned unconsciousness as the soldiers jumped up on the wing and gawked into the cockpit. One of them reached down under his armpits and tried to lift Erich out. siekeningly sour. Erich cried out with pain, The Russian smelled and kept crying and The Russian let go of him. The two men jabbered in Russian and then called to Erich. "Comrade, comrade. The war is finished, Hitler is finished.* It sobbing. doesn't matter now." "I am wounded," abdomen with lowered * The lids, sobbed the Blond Knight, pointing to his right hand and cradling it with his Erich could see they had swallowed the left. his Through bait. Russians do not say "Hitler," but "Gitler." Thus, in this instance, they said: "Gitler kaput"— Hitler is finished. THE BEAR'S GRASP IN The 69 Russians carefully helped him out of the cockpit, while Academy Award perground, unable to stand up. The Rus- Erich blubbered and sobbed through an He formance. "wounded" on the fell went back sians pilot the truck, got an old tent, and laid to the on the folded canvas. They toted him over the truck like a bundle of wet washing and laid him out to carefully on the truck bed. The soldiers tried talking quietly to Erich, in friendly fashion. mood was Their won them his belly. a big victory. Erich kept A he on groaning and clutching at Exasperated and unable to alleviate his pain, the Rus- sians finally got nearby happy, because the previous night's action had back in the truck and drove him to their HQ in a village. doctor appeared. He could speak a few make an examination. The tried to German words, and physician stank of a sour perfume. Every time he touched Erich, the Blond Knight cried Even the doctor was convinced. His captors brought him some fruit, and he made as though to eat it. Then he cried out again, as though some penetrating strain had been placed on his out. organism by the act of biting. For two hours the theater continued. Then the same two diers came again, laid him out on the tent sol- and carted him back out to the truck. As they went jolting eastward back behind the Russian lines, Erich soon— or spend the knew he would have rest of the war to make a in a Soviet prison. break— and He weighed The truck had gone about two miles back into Russian territory. One soldier was driving, the other was in the truck bed guarding the injured German captive. As Erich's thoughts raced, from the western sky came the characteristic whining roar the situation. of Stukas. The German dive bombers passed low overhead, and the truck slowed, ready to ditch. As the guard in the back of the truck stared apprehensively upward, Erich sprang to his feet and charged the Russian with his shoulder. The guard slammed into the back of the cab with his head and collapsed in the truck bed. Dropping went bolting into a field of man-high sunflowers beside the road. As he made their cover, off the tail gate, Erich THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 70 screeching truck brakes told him had been his escape discovered. Plunging and staggering deeper and deeper into the sea of sunheard the crash of flowers, Erich as his captors fired at the menace, but Erich maintained five He minutes. his lung-bursting Gasping out of the sunflower sea and into a lifted out of a Trees, green grass seemed out to a place that might and wildflowers grouped around and how his thinking clarified, a little stream He threw and he began German territory. walking westward. From the to get back to stood up and started it little valley, he suddenly burst the grass and gulped the cool air into his lungs. assessing his plight judged for breath, his ex-hosts fairy tale. his heartbeat subsided, He him and of character with a life-and-death escape. down on himself As pace for at least hadn't run like this since the athletic meets at a yard closer to safety. have been soon ceased to be rifle fire Korntal Hochschule. Every yard between was of bullets waving indications of his passage. Diminishing to a distant popping, the a and the whine rifle fire sun, he be about nine o'clock. Half an hour's cross-country trudging, almost pleasant in the out by a road leading into a small summer morning, brought him village. Screened by some bushes, he began gathering intelligence that would ensure his escape. On the other side of the road, not far away, he saw several peo- He watched them ple wearing fur clothing. for some minutes, and saw that they were- Russians. There was no question now that he was on the wrong still side of the lines. Moving carefully along the line of the road for half a mile, he reached a spot where he could see a hill in the distance. Soldiers were up there digging and trenches. That meant the front foxholes line was not far away —perhaps on the other side of the hill. The now. icy coolness of his He and work combat head was ruling his thinking fought down the temptation to keep going in daylight his way around the digging Russians. The German Army might be on the other side of the hill, but there was no gunfire. Furthermore, Russian soldiers and peasants seemed to be everywhere as the morning wore on. He talked to himself quietly, as he always did in a tight spot. "One thing is sure, Erich. You can never go through here in the THE BEAR'S GRASP IN 71 daytime without being captured. till to your valley and wait retraced his steps to the security of his fairy-tale valley, with stream and trees. Picking out a stream, he piled up sand lay back dark." He its Go down behind this to a dying afternoon, meander near the dry little and stones into an unobtrusive low screen and went to sleep. ridge. He He awakened and made ready to move out with nightfall. Bimmel had waited on the line after Erich took off into the dawn. He always waited. The other crew chiefs went in and drank coffee or sat around and swapped yarns until the fighters came back. Bimmel preferred to wait on the line, alone, his gaze never long removed from the sky. That morning, Bimmers chief didn't come back with the others. Apprehensive and worried, he paced up and down, watching the eastern horizon, or sound of the returning Me-109. alert for the first sight Appearing progressively more distraught, Bimmel maintained his vigil for No hours after Erich's fuel all one among the returning would have been exhausted. knew for sure what had happened to Erich. Lieutenant Puis saw him going down trailing smoke, but he himself was jumped by Russian fighters at that moment and could watch Hartmann no longer. The rest of the pilots were too busy, pilots Red aircraft, to see what happened to Erich. Bimmers pacing grew more rapid. His visits news became more and more frequent. for with eighty in their every-man-for-himself battle HQ to the Still bunker no word. His crew-chief comrades next saw Sergeant Mertens in his tent, rolling some food in "Where are you going, Bimmel?" up a blanket and stuffing "I'm going behind the Russian a rucksack. lines. To find my chief, that's where I'm going." "You'll be shot "I if you're caught." speak Russian. The people Bimmel Mertens asked from the base. He bring him back. help me find Erich." no leave or permission simply took a the direction of the front him and for will rifle to depart and disappeared on foot line. If his chief was alive, in he would find That was the bond between the Blond THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 72 Knight and faithful his crew chief, evoked from the a loyalty depths of the heart, and as the square-shouldered Bimmel disap- peared frgm view, the other crew chiefs watched and shook their heads. air and tracer and star shells laced way through the sky as Erich pressed on toward Gunfire punctuated the night and bobbed the front their lines. Rattles of rifle and machine-gun fire sounded nearby as he stumbled through the August half-dark toward the it He made with the entrenchments he had seen that morning. hill up the hill, way picking his among carefully On the diggings. the other side, he descended into a sprawling valley verdant with sunflowers in full bloom. Erich waded into the sunflowers, heading west, and disturbing them as little as possible. Frequent pauses made good sense. He conserved his strength and could listen for enemy movements. Slogging through the sunflowers for an hour, he paused for a longer The rest. him metallic rattle of an infantryman's web gear brought to full alert. Crouching down, Erich watched a Russian patrol of ten pressing through the sunflowers. patrol, he reasoned. They would front line lay, or be going He weighed Chances were likely this know where men was a recce* the somewhere near the forward German positions. the chances and decided to follow the patrol. Keeping a respectable distance behind them, Erich watched their progress in the gloom as the towering sunflowers bobbed with the movements Russians had led in its fringe, him of the patrol. In a few minutes, the to the edge of the sunflower belt. he watched the ten two small houses on soldiers cross a their right. moments behind a clump disappeared up the hillside into the gloom. * hill and disap- of trees, Erich sprinted meadow and flung himself under the wooden steps of the houses. He watched from concealment as the patrol across the one of Crouching meadow, passing As the Russians went stumbling on up another peared for a few waved and Recce is military slang for "reconnaissance." THE BEAR'S GRASP IN A storm of automatic The remnants down the back into the sunflower He and some grenade fire of the patrol, crying stumbling back German 73 front line hill. belt. Erich felt he had a good break. The must be at the top of the next hill. German song. other blast of automatic hilltop. air. Their ragged figures disappeared ran up the slope, and as he neared the whistling a bursts rent the and shouting, came bolting and He fire. didn't want hill's crest, to he started be cut down by an- In a few minutes he stood on the There were no Germans, no entrenchments, no His shoes clicked against a pile of cartridge cases. sign of He life. was at the scene of the skirmish he had heard. Erich estimated the time as around midnight. Erich started walking westward again. For two hours more he down skidded and staggered and stumbled enclosed by hills. He headed up the western slopes of the valley, near giddy from hunger and tension. in the distance. air The into another valley Rumbling only other sound was his was almost deathly artillery own crumped breathing. The still. "Halten!" Blam! The challenge merged with the muffled bark of a rifle fired at close range. Erich felt the bullet rip through his trouser leg. "Damned fool!" he your own people." yelled. "God Almighty, man, don't shoot "Stoppen!" "Damn you to hell, I am a German pilot. Don't shoot, for Christ's sake." Standing no more than twenty yards away, the sentry was lucky he missed. His bad marksmanship was due fear. erally As Erich gingerly drew closer, he could see the soldier quaking with fear in the gloom. even than Erich, who from the bullet hole could feel to his almost paralytic He lit- was more frightened the air washing around his leg in his trousers. Erich shouted into the area behind the sentry at the top of his voice. "I'm a here. I've German pilot who been walking For God's sake let has been shot down. for hours I am happy from behind the Russian me come through." to be lines. THE BLOND KNIGAt 74 A "Let him come." GERMANY sharp order from the rear sounded to Erich redemption. like a Glaring at the sentry in the darkness, the young ace stalked past him toward the voice. The sentry was not relaxing for a minute. Moving in behind Erich he jammed the muzzle of his rifle into the Blond Knight's back. Erich could his One brow. would put feel the darkness and this lunatic slip or a stagger in The a bullet in his back. to the top of the the sweat beading out on and poked him sentry pushed hill. The entrenched infantry shoved him roughly into a foxhole. A command of the unit began interrogating the bone-weary Erich. He had no identification. The Russians had emptied his pockets. He gave the suspicious German officer his second lieutenant in name and rank, and the approximate position where he had been shot down the morning before. It was now about 2 a.m. and he couldn't blame the infantrymen for being cautious. "Please, Leutnant, telephone The officer my wing HQ." was convinced, but he had no telephone, and couldn't leave the line during the night. their nervousness "Two He also explained the reason for all speaking perfect German, and and caution. days ago, six men came, told us they were escaped P.O.W.'s. When they got into the posi- whipped out submachine guns from under their coats and killed and wounded ten men." Erich pondered the hard and dirty war of the infantry, as he tions of a neighboring unit, they settled down in the line. to spend the remainder of the night with the troops His countrymen gave him a little food, into an exhausted sleep in a foxhole. After and he slumped what seemed like a minute or two, he snapped awake with one of the infantrymen shaking his arm. "Come with me. It's an alert." was 4 followed the soldier out into the trench where a machine Erich looked at the luminous dial of his wristwatch. a.m. He gun was mounted. His stomach tightened into The sound of yelling and singing came floating a It compact up the ball. hillside. Erich sneaked a look over the parapet. Dimly he could see a bunch of Russian soldiers staggering and weaving up the hillside. They IN THE BEAR'S GRASP 75 looked like they were drunk. Talking and joking in groups, their progress was unannounced by any be drunk or could be a trap. it The young lieutenant artillery or tanks. commanding They might Germans was the giving last-minute orders to his men. "Wait. Don't until fire I them come on and give the order. Let get so close you cannot miss." how Erich thought his own, high The in the sky. came on up the The Germans in Russians Russian songs. The taut nerves. trench. resembled closely this infantryman's tactics hill, whooping and bellowing out the trench crouched in a fever of Russians were reeling within sixty feet of the They must see their foes any second, drunk or sober. "Fire!" Every weapon in the German platoon opened up. and blast of lead steel lifted the Russians off their A withering feet, felled them where they stood, or bowled them dead back down the hill. Caught cold and drunk they had no chance. In a welter of blood and rags the savage ambush was over in half a minute. Not a single Russian survived. This was Erich's in first exposure to the brutal war of the infantry Russia. This chilling experience etched itself indelibly in his memory. Twenty-five years later, recalling The infantrymen and the airmen had it little would in chill his spine. common in the way they fought. After the ambush, in the Erich down first a corporal escorted back by car to and a telephone were was confirmed and he was sent at Kuteynikovo. Erich's identity in search of dawn availcompany HQ. A company commander soon contacted Colonel Hrabak radio to able and the light of his base. After telling his story to Hrabak, he went Bimmel. when he learned Bimmel was still Erich was aghast rescue expedition. from the hospital during Erich's impromptu gone. Krupinski had returned absence and he recalls the Blond of his crew chief's Knight's return to the 7th Squadron: "The day Bubi Hartmann returned from lines in Russian territory, is a day I his sojourn will always behind the remember. He was THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 76 one happy boy to get back to by really frightened squadron his but he was safely, His tired eyes were very wide his experience. and he was obviously exhausted. "He had lived through an experience very few of our men survived. It seemed to me that in these few harrowing hours he had grown much older." and big, The cloud of concern that settled over Erich when he learned Bimmers absence dissipated the next day. The erect, unmistakable figure of Mertens came plodding back across the airfield the following morning. Dark circles surrounded Bimmers eyes, and of his cheeks were sunken. He was obviously near collapse trudged dejectedly back to the base. Bimmers haggard as he Then he saw Erich. face blossomed into a happy smile. His chief him he could see that the Blond Knight was unwounded. The two men wrung each other's hands in a silent expression of the deep bond men feel who will lay down their lives for each other. To this day, Bimmel Mertens says that the happiest moment of his life was when he saw Erich Hartmann safe and well after his crash behind the Soviet lines. had got home. As Erich strode over Erich's grueling experience was to rich in lessons. His instinctive adoption of the wounded-man role undoubtedly saved him from imprisonment or death. The Russians either and lowered ruse of internal injuries fell for the their vigilance. cunning This was the The experience of other pilots in Russian hands that German airmen were usually heavily guarded, with three armed men in attendance. Most of them were im- key to his escape. reveals two or mediately handcuffed after capture. Quick thinking sets, and is one of the successful in this case fighter pilot's prime as- prevented the Blond Knight's career from it ending in August 1943, when he had but ninety victories. He conveyed the essence of his experience in Russian hands to the young pilots he led Richthofen later in the war, Wing own summation is "I always told and able in the new German my men is Air Force. Erich Hartmanns appropriate. to escape, to daytime. There and again when he commanded the the that if they were prisoners somewhere move during the unexpected encounter with the enemy to move only by night. Never THE BEAR'S GRASP IN 77 contend with, and the ever present possibility that who spotted without seeing the person you has spotted you. will be You have many surprises to deal with in the daytime. "When you move by night, you cannot be surprised. The advantages are with you. You know you are a stranger, and that all too around you are enemies. still At have a If you are challenged moment—enough in any language you time to jump away into the darkness. night, the majority of your enemies are asleep, so that all those pairs of eyes and hands are not escape, or pull the triggers of "I emphasized to the war that all the around to obstruct you, spot your rifles. men commanded I during and since takes self-discipline not to try escaping during the it daytime. That burned itself into my brain that day as dry wash in the stream bed. Don't be in a hurry. The darkness One is I Wait lay in that till night. your friend." of the strangest anomalies of the anomalous career is that when he was Blond Knight's often cast entirely on August 1943, he made analysis and self-discipline. his own resources as a Soviet captive in his escape through good When instinct, clear was conveyed to the grasp of the Bear by 1945, there was no possibility of escape his American captors from he in a situation created by agreements between governments. Another agreement between governments, ten and a half years later, the Blond Knight from the Bear's grasp. was needed then to free Chapter Six OAK LEAVES War is not exactly a life insurance. —Col O nce Hans-Ulrich Rudel Erich reached 150 victories in the autumn of 1943, his climb to fame proceeded rapidly on both sides of the man propaganda lines. Ger- broadcasts began occasionally mentioning his name. His photograph appeared sometimes in newspapers, usually with other leading fighter pilots of JG-52.* To the Russians he be- came known first as Karaya One, his R/T designation. Later he became infamous on the Soviet side as the "Black Devil of the South." The legend of the Black Devil began nose painted on his petals. when Erich had aircraft, a distinctive pattern shaped a black like tulip His fighter was easily distinguishable in combat, and the Soviet flyers quickly realized that the pilot of this black-marked German fighter was a foe to be avoided. He never missed. German The pilot was nick- named "Black Devil of the South" by the Russians. The Soviets had their listening posts and monitored ground-to-air communications, as did the Germans in Luftwaffe feared but as yet otherwise unidentified intelligence about their foes. gathering These monitored broadcasts made One and the Black Devil same man. He was cutting a swath obvious to the Russians that Karaya it they had come * Erich's to fear were the Gruppenkommandeur, Guenther Rail, reached 200 victories on 28 August 1943, and 250 victories on 28 November 1943—both occasions for much publicity for Rail and JG-52. OAK LEAVES 79 through their formations, and most of the Black Devil's victories were over single-engined fighters. A price of ten thousand rubles was placed on the Black Devil's head. The Russian pilot him down would win fame, bring These inducements proved ing and identifying the Black glory who could and wealth. Red insufficient. pilots encounter- Devil's distinctively marked aircraft quickly left the scene of battle. Erich found that his black markings, and black image in the minds of the Soviet pilots, were work- ing against him. His scores began to diminish, as contact with the enemy enemy He declined. was lucky to get first one strike before the and the fortunes of every Schwarm fighters dispersed, which Erich flew with the black Erich countered in in aircraft declined sharply. by giving the -black-marked aircraft to his green wingmen. These youngsters could have had no better pro- The Red tection. fighters left the pilot of the tulip-pattern nose severely alone, but As long hard to as the black petals find. it were in the was machine with the still the same story. Red opponents were air, Erich concluded that the black petals had to go. Bimmel Mertens was up the pretty black overjoyed. Keeping him that he didn't particularly He knew that the trophies of the paint job was an extra chore for enjoy. Bimmel could also count. hunt had declined since the pattern was chief's ship. ing Red Bimmel pilots, first painted on his young erased the black tulips and to the unsuspect- Erich became just another Me-109 in a typical Schwarm. The difference in scoring heartened not only Erich and Bimmel, but the whole squadron. The victories began coming thick and fast again as Erich lit into the Red formations with the advantage of anonymity. In January and February 1944 Karaya One seemed to be every- where, and always on the victor's end of the battles. In this day period Erich ran up a staggering nearly one downings an enemy kill per day. Actually, fifty sixty- victories— an average of the average was about two Bad weather was almost as serious Force, in spite of all the Germans had for every flying day. as the Red Air learned from their Soviet enemies about contending with the weather. The Germans were astonished in Russia when Red fighters THEBLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 80 swarmed over their airfields early on sub-zero mornings when they had been unable even to start their own aircraft. When Erich's squadron captured a Russian airman, he showed them with typical Soviet directness how tional effectiveness at The the Russian Air Force maintained its opera- 40 below zero. cooperative prisoner was proud of knowing something per- haps the Germans didn't know. gasoline in a can. and serschmitts, He went He called for half a gallon of over to one of the grounded Mes- to the horror of the watching JG-52 personnel, poured the gasoline into the aircraft's backed away twenty yards or more. The turned on the ignition and attempted a oil sump. The Germans moment start, that Dummkopf there would be an explosion. Apprehensive mechanics began cranking the motor by hand, while a line German pilot cringed down in the cockpit. After the gaso- was thoroughly mixed with the congealed ignition. The oil, he turned on the The big The Russian airman engine started. There was no explosion. Daimler-Benz burst into life and ran solidly. Germans that the oil congealed at sub-zero temperatures and made it impossible for the starters to budge the engine. The gasoline liquefied the oil, and then evaporated as the engine warmed up. The only necessary precaution was to change engine oil more often when using gasoline for sub-zero explained through interpreting starting. Erich also watched another captured Russian demonstrate a sub-zero starting gimmick. He tells the story in his own words: "This prisoner called for a spare-parts tray. Again, there was a While Bimmel and others watched, the Russian stalked over to a nearby Me-109 and set the tray on the ground underneath the engine compartment. He filled the tray brimming with gasoline. Then he lit a match and sprang back. "The gasoline vapor flared alight despite the sub-zero temper- call for gasoline. ature, wide tongue of flame licked at the underside of the opened engine compartment. For a full ten minutes the and fighter's a blaze continued. "One of the mechanics said that the electrical system ruined— the insulation all burnt away—as would be the flames died down. OPS! The tricky Me- 109 earned ound-looper, usually ending up on is one did. quite a reputation as a its back or on its nose, as (B. Steinhoff Collection) GUNTHER RALL: 1ST. LT. Rail was Erich Hartmann's second Gruppenkom- mandeur(the first was Major von Bonin). Rail had just been awarded the Oakleaf when this photo was taken on 26 October 1942, after his 100th aerial victory. (Rail Collection) a b c d e MG 131 Doppelschufigeber DSG Gurtkosten 131 Linker Abfuhrschocht MG Lafette St.L. 131/5 Zundspule ZS Schlitzverkleidung h i k I MG AL C A f g 1 3 151 Motorlafette MoL 151/1 Gurtkosten 151 Zufuhrschacht MG m KG n o THE BEST WEAPON— 20MM CANNON: MG 151 cannon (item h in the drawing). 13 A Revi 16 B Selbstschalter A 15 The most effective weapon on German fighter aircraft was the hit with it was worth ten with the smaller calibre ma- One chine guns. TWO SARDINES IN AN ME- 109: Heinz Mertens, TWOBUBTS: Bubi Dose and Bubi Hartmann, offriends, shared the °oy, lad, youthful best same nickname, "Bubi" means baby in Deutsch. Both lads had such a appearance that the name "Bubi" was a natural for them. and Erich how two can get into crew-chief on Hartmann's fighter plane, jovially show the photographer the cockpit of the Me- 109. Erich 's first aircraft sport" ed the Bleeding Heart with the words "Dicker Max. "Ursel. Later he changed it to FLYING BATHTUB— Th "STORMOVIK": IL2 T) Soviet ground attack Ilyush IL2 was shot down byLuftwa^ pilots just north of Jassy, R mania on 12 August 194 Hartmann's first aerial victo was over an IL2. (Now an BLITZKRIEG VICTIM: IL2 'tormo vik caught on the ground y y German troops was blown up Russian troops. Airplane as up on jacks being repaired ) was not flown to safety. (Nowarra) OAK LEAVES FROM THE FUEHRER: On this occasion, Erich aerial * :/ •* 11 Hartmann and onetime warfare tutor Walter Krupinski received their Oak Leaves personally from Adolf The ceremony was at Obersalzberg on 4 April 1944. The officers at the investiture are from left, Dr. Maximilian Otto, Reinhard Seiler, Horsi Hitler. Adameit, Erich Geiger. Walter Krupinski, Hartmann and Augus, (Obermaier Collection i , THE KEYS TO SUCCESS: Colonel Dietrich Hrabak (left) Kommodore of JG-52 had under his command the most as successful fighter wing of all With 125 time. self victories Hrabak appears him- here with four ofthe Luftwaffe's outstanding fighter pilots— Erich Hart- mann (352 Gratz(138 victories), Lt. victories), Lt Karl Fried- Obleser (127 victories) and Major Wilhelm Batz (237 erich victories). HAPPY YOUNGSTER- Relaxing in a deck chair and fondling a pet dog, the Blond Knight takes time outfrom the Eastern front air was in war in 1944. a Soviet prison. A year later, he WEDDING GUEST: This snapshot of Gerd Barkhorn was made at Erich Hartmann's wartime wedding on 10 September 1944 in Bad Wiessee. Barkhorn was official witness at the ceremony, along with another JG-52 ace, Willi Batz. Barkhorn and Hartmann, acedom's two top scorers, had remained close friends until Bark- horne was killed in an automobile accident 6 January 1983. OXYGEN INDOCTRINA- TION: The Grupe Flight Surgeon shows Hartmann the results of patability his oxygen test while com- amused squadron-mates look on. (JG-52) (AJOR ' GUNTHER RALL, No. 3 ear the end of the war. ACE: With 275 thumb to a P-47 Rail commanded the new dories behind him, Rail lost his left uftwaffe as a Lieut. General. COLONEL JOHANNES One of the most "Macky" STEINHOFF: of the Luftwaffe, Steinhoff scored 1 76 aerial victories before an Me-262jet crash burned him badly. In the new Luftwaffe, Steinhoff rose to Lieut. General rank and commanded the brilliant Luftwaffe for several years. iPTAIN WILLI BATZ: 22 i victories in 12 months! combat and good instructor pilot for years, Batz started ?wly but when he caught onto tactics ooting he became the best of all at aerial gun- MAJOR JOHANNES WIESE: This JG52 ace had and may have had over 200. Became Kommodore ofJG77 but was shot down and 133 official victories carttured bv the Soviets two months later. OAK LEAVES 8l The Russian simply that said, 'Start it/ The instant, smooth roar of motor convinced everyone. Fighters could be zero weather—once you knew how. started in sub- We all felt indebted to the Red Air Force for this scheme, which helped us get into the air to meet their early morning sorties." The same Russian prisoner how to keep their armament gladly showed the awed Germans functioning in sub-zero climates. Luftwaffe manuals recommended careful lubrication and greasing gun mechanism. The grease congealed on the Russian Front and froze the breech mechanism shut. The Russian took a German for machine gun and dunked the grease and lubricants, the oil out of the weapon. Minus With Bimmel rack up firing, a two winters perfectly at recommended 40 below zero. Thanks Germans were not only to Russian advice, the first in a tank of boiling water, flushing all gun functioned but also to keep in the it its able to keep flying, problem that had dogged Luftwaffe units in Russia. using all these tricks and more, Erich was able to his impressive string of kills over the January-February period in 1944. He flew a normally camouflaged fighter, and its only distinguishing mark was the bleeding "Usch" heart on the The fuselage. Russians nevertheless matched up the plane and pilot through radio interceptions. This led to Erich's being singled out one morning by a Russian determined to down him. Erich was flying with his wingman, Lieutenant Wester, far back in German on the Rumanian Front. Behind the territory there was normally little lines likelihood of encountering Russian air- HQ but reports had come into JG-52 of ground attacks behind the lines. Erich was ordered to make a sweep. craft, With over five hundred combat missions under his belt, Erich had acquired something that he considered even more valuable than the 150 victories standing to his credit— an intuition for the enemy presence. The blue sky seemed empty, save for some cumu- lus insufficient to conceal an aircraft for long. showed no evidence of the mortal The struggle seesawing across ESP rang the little danger signal that was to save him many times. He looked back. face. Then Sitting Erich's on the perch six earth below in his its mind hundred yards behind and above him S2 was a single, make a pass THE BLOND KNIGHT Of GERMANY red-nosed YAK fighter. The Russian was about to on Karaya One. "Pull ahead of me, climb up and watch!" Erich told Wester. As they went racing along, the Russian every few seconds would open try to fire. Watching then did the pilot last broke away each time, carefully, Erich him on trying to get the Russian to overtake the outside. The Red thing Erich expected. Pulling up, he turned and came head-on. Erich fired and the Russian fired. No hits either way. Twice they fired their way through a head-on encounter. Neither of them could get a better firing position. After two near-misses at high speed, Erich began his out-loud talking to himself that he resorted to in tight spots. "Erich, this Russian acts like he mad. is He is probably trying ram you. Break away from him, come on, with negative G's." The Blond Knight pushed his stick forward and sent Karaya One down in a negative G maneuver instead of continuing his turn. He called to Wester to escape down in a steep dive. As his to went plunging down, Erich watched the Russian continue fighter Ins turn. From underneath, making pilot a Erich below for German him in the home, no doubt Firewalling his full throttle, his adversary. of his tale of Climbing Throttling back Without spotting less . . . how he almost bush- the Black Devil. Erich followed at low level directly steadily, open, in two minutes Erich had YAK. antagonist. dead zone, the Russian turned east and whacked the infamous Karaya One under now confused Red couple of quick turns, obviously rattled because he could no longer find his headed Erich could see the come up under than machine, Erich lifted the nose, windshield with its with the 109's engine wide and fifty feet as the bulk, he pressed his the unsuspecting below the Russian enemy fighter filled his gun buttons. Clunks of jagged metal flew off the Russian fighter in a deadly hail and thundered against the wings of Karaya One. Fire blow- torched out of the Russian's engine compartment and a pall of black smoke was done trailed back behind the stricken fighter. The YAK for. machine and bailed out. His chute billowing white against the morning sky, he hung there The Russian pilot inverted his dying OAK LEAVES 83 The as his aircraft went barreling down thunderously. Smoke came climbing up from in flames. YAK crashed the wreck as the Russian went floating down. Circling the scene, Erich watched the down near his shattered fighter and begin gathering German infantry from a nearby village were already on Russian touch in his chute. their way to the scene. Fixing the location in his mind, Erich sped back to base, and piling out of Karaya One, clambered immediately into the squad- The ron's flying jeep, the Fieseler Storch. was used downed feet, pilots. and forward reconnaissance, for A Storch could land in a air versatile little aircraft minimum carry three people including the pilot. ready on the base at Erich took off, Rumanian He hundred Storch was kept later landed in a small field from which he had seen German infantrymen the Russian pilot. Sure enough, the infantry had captured his late opponent. kind face. A of six times. and a few minutes close to the village move out toward all and rescuing control The Russian was was obviously happy to be civilians who knew Russian interpreted for the two a captain, with a alive. a smattering of A couple of both German and pilots. Erich congratulated the Russian on his "birthday' —surviving a downing and a crash. "For you, the war is over. The Russian nodded and "Why The Russian earlier smiled happily. me in maneuvers, flying alone?" wingman in why he didn't look back, the Russian The situation was akin to that summed captain explained that he had lost his battle. As to merely shrugged ruefully. up Erich. didn't you look backward after you lost and why were you an You are lucky," said American expression "Don't look back over your someone might be gaining on you." As the young Russian talked, standing there in his dark tunic, with leather cap and boots, Erich could see he was just like any in the shoulder, other fighter pilot— a a care- free member of his own fraternity. He was young man. He made wings out of his hands when he talked. But for his language and uniform, he could have been German. Erich took his prisoner out of the custody of the infantry and THE BLOND KNIGHT CF GERMANY 84 together they walked out to the Storch and flew back to the With squadron's base. gestures and smatters of Russian Erich led the young Red captain into a mess tent. Inside were young Ger- man men just like some schnapps and One himself. To food. The Germans offered the Russian Erich's surprise, the Russian became German pilots spoke a little Russian and discovered the cause of the enemy pilot's obvious rage. 'They told him that all Russians captured by the Germans angry. of the would be shot!" Erich handed the captain some more schnapps and food, then took sian him out and him examine let the Me-109 close up. The Rus- was allowed to wander without an escort around the base for HQ for two days before the squadron had to send him on to wing proper processing. Enterprising enough to single out Karaya One, the Russian pilot had no ambition to escape, although he was left practically unguarded. Air battles like his encounter with the lone Russian brought Erich into contact with every conceivable situation in combat. He was which no not only confident of fighter pilot could ever skills through experience. enal distances, He own his succeed— but air-to-air abilities— without also could spot aircraft now sometimes minutes before anyone with him, and often intuit his foe's intentions. extended his at phenom- else airborne He avoided the dogfight in favor of the lethal efficiency of hit and run. The "See - Decide - Attack - Break" was a sequence never to be broken. Following it meant success, departing from it meant failure and even doom. For joining and breaking combat Erich developed practical that kept him continued to mode vailed, and unwounded while the Russian Under blue-sky conditions, he found the best alive fall. his strike wherever possible for under and of attack the high he made less rules aircraft this fast low and one fast Where approach. fast. He overcast pre- waited whenever and blow rather than make his attack than ideal conditions. This was his "coffee break." Surprise was the crucial element of the successful bounce. In winter, with Karaya One camouflaged white and the sky overcast, the low-to-high attack pass proved extremely successful. OAK LEAVES He in, conquered 85 his earlier tendency to slacken speed when closing going right to his foe at the shortest possible distance before From firing. fifty devastating. Kills were scored with The armament was yards the power of Karaya One's minimum ammunition. traditional tactic of turning with an enemy was something Erich had abandoned. Dogfighters could do it their way, and most them loved the dogfight. Erich preferred his own methods. After his brief and violent attack, he would roll over wing deep and dive of about two thousand feet under his foe altitude permitted, pull- if ing up from behind and below for a second attack. In this posi- he could stay with any turn the enemy might attempt, and tion, after firing, the Blond Knight was on his way upstairs for a third Each pass was a repetition of the "See Decide Attack Break" cycle. In the Eastern Front air battles, the Germans were almost al- pass should his foe survive the second assault. ways heavily outnumbered. Consequently, Erich himself was often In the same way as he evolved his bounced by Russian fighters. deadly attack he developed a defensive tactics, methods his attack rolled up set of rules. Just as his score past all the old dogfighters, so did his defense tactics keep him from being wounded. The two went hand in hand, and led to his being consistently Luck was almost always with him, but his penetrant sets of tactics in action. analytical ability vival and was ever Lady Luck's bridegroom. Physical sur- a high score were the children of the union. When a Russian bounced him from behind, above— from "the perch"— Erich would go into turn, turning into his enemy's firing pass. Where from below and behind, Erich would go hard down, again breaking into his to one side and a hard climbing a Red pilot came left or right enemy's pass, then immediately and us- ing negative G's to lose the enemy. Erich's coolness soon him. He attack became a legend among all learned to observe his Russian foes as they and meet who flew with came in to the their thrusts with appropriate parries. Resisting the urge to turn while an attacking Russian pilot was firing range required coolness. while an enemy aircraft The concept still outside of simply sitting there rushed in with a battery of guns charged was hard to accept in theory— and even tougher to execute in THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 86 actual combat. Flying straight and waiting slip for the and enemy level, using the rudder for slight commit to himself, soon convinced the Blond Knight that he could avoid being hit under these cumstances. Vital information could often be gleaned in the seconds before the attacking Russian opened cir- split fire. Inexperienced or inferior pilots always gave themselves away by opening too early. Erich discovered that in such instances fire he could soon change Red his role from defender to attacker, but and kept pilot held his fire closing in, then that an old-timer was at the controls. A battle it if the was certain was then in the offing. Erich developed only one rule for breaking away as a last-ditch maneuver, and that was to execute with negative G's. tighter and An to try a movement where possible attacking pilot expects his quarry to turn him— the out-turn dogfight. classic The at- tacking pilot must turn even tighter in order to pull firing lead on his quarry. As a result, his quarry disappears under the nose of moment the attacker. At that the quarry can escape by shoving forward on the stick and kicking bottom rudder. aircraft change from plus G's. a-half five The on forces his G's to minus one or minus one-and- This escape maneuver attacker to sec or follow until it is is too almost impossible for the late. Erich made good use which threw the attacker instantly from ad- of this escape tactic, vantage to complex disadvantage. The attacker was first of all placed at the psychological disad- vantage imposed by negative G's— weightlessness. Physically he was disadvantaged, being lifted from his seat to hang against his belt— an impossible situation in which to track a target, due to the higher negative attack angle. Finally, the erstwhile attacker lost his overview of the area and steering the aircraft in the right rection for continued pursuit became guesswork. Erich reserved these tactics for last-ditch situations. In attacks, his rule G's. He was to turn into called these "My taught them to his young tactical skill in attack di- all other his assailant's turn, using positive Personal Twist Regulations," and he wingmen to help keep them alive. His and defense took him through more than OAK LEAVES hundred eight 87 aerial battles without a scratch— too stunning an achievement to be attributed to blind luck. Once he kill tally rose among and got some experience, Erich's so quickly that he became a subject of discussion clarified his tactics other pilots. His consistent string of victories and seemingly charmed life made him a focus of competitive attention as 1943 wore on. There were even some who thought pilots must that there be some trickery involved in Erich's success. who had Sergeant Carl Junger of the 7th Squadron, Erich's wingman, was invited with two other flown as pilots to visit the nearby 8th Squadron mess. This social gathering had a noteworthy During sequel, arising out of squadron rivalry. heard Erich Hartmann's name mentioned in festivities, some Junger of the noisy who conversation. Second Lieutenant Friedrich "Fritz" Obleser, had come to JG-52 about the same time at the outset of his career, while Erich and learning the fever Once Erich settled tricks of down as Erich, had scored well was conquering Rossmann and the own to lead his buck his dogfighters. elements, he rocketed past Obleser in the scoring. Fritz was expressing his skepticism about Erich's consistent skein of kills. Junger as Erich's wingman had been witness to He was annoyed kills. by the implication many of Erich's in Obleser's remarks. The next day, Junger told the Blond Knight what Obleser had said. Erich thanked Junger and made up his mind in a flash about what He went straight to Major Guenther Rail, the Gruppenkommandeur, under whose command both the 7th and should be done. 8th Squadrons were operating. "Fritz Obleser of the 8th pilots that Rail's he doesn't believe tions, all I the details. know they are genuine. What do you want sir. like to That is, have Obleser if it fly as wingman on A see to do a few opera- can be arranged." Rail nodded. Pilots locking horns was nothing "Of me I it?" would "I my kills are genuine." eyebrows went up. "Well, the witness reports and about Squadron has been saying to other new to him. I'll issue the orders. He can come down tomorrow." somewhat embarrassed Obleser duly reported the following course, THE BLOND KNIGftT OF GERMANY 88 day for duty as Erich's wingman. Since for observational purposes, temporary transfer was his he was assigned to the better vantage point offered by the second element in Erich's Schwarm. two missions and saw two of Erich's devastating ings, in On which the Blond Knight blew up close-in opponents' his the ground, the convinced Obleser signed the two firmation claims as the official witness. Fritz He flew down- aircraft. con- kill apologized in manly fashion for his earlier criticism and was allowed to return to the 8th Squadron with his story. about Bubi Hartmann's Behind Erich's No victories further expressions of skepticism came from any neighboring tactical skills, unit. which he evolved and polished through experience, lay yet another important talent of the successful fighter pilot— a hunter's nose. his foes, He had an even during periods of relative instinct for finding inactivity. As the downing HQ, he reports kept reaching Rail's desk for forwarding to wing could see that Erich was getting kills when other pilots were coming home empty-handed. So Bubi was a hunter. On the evening of 1 October 1943, Erich was called to the telephone. Major Rail wanted in on tomorrow's hunt. "What time are you going out in the morning?" said Rail. "Seven o'clock or thereabouts." come with you in the second element." Erich Hartmann now tells the story of the only operation "Good. I will the two great aces flew together. Zaporozhe every morning early to catch the worm, but with no success. I had been flying later and having success, but I had a special route there. I flew down from "Rail had been flying Zaporozhe I to Nikopol, had kept my down to and near there was find quiet, but every day down in this area. "Rail came with me on I a big Russian air base. was able to knock an aircraft flew south. We were the morning of 2 October 1943, and sight, Rail " 'What and the line of the thirty minutes' flight with nothing in circling along the front Dnieper River. After about came on the R/T. are you doing screwing around There's nothing here. I'm taking trovsk.' we my down here in the south? element up to Dneprope- OAK LEAVES "And a couple of far Lagg " fighters as escort. enough away, so Then I 1 have P-2. Gruppenkommandeur so the lit out. Barely two minutes spotted a P-2 recce plane at eighteen thousand feet, with later, I yet be 89 I I was afraid that Rail would not waited until I was closing in on the called Rail. a bogey* south of Zaporozhe, and you can watch it. Turn around/ "Back on the R/T came Rail's frantic response. " Wait! Wait! Wait till I get there/ "By then I was only fifteen hundred feet from the P-2. I closed in and shot him down, then broke into one of the Laggs and sent him down, too. Rail saw them both go down burning." Rail's conclusion that the was thus proved The Russian tion as well as a shooter and the incident shows correct, impishness that Erich boy was a hunter a certain quality of Hartmann maintains to this day. fighter pilots were the most formidable on the Eastern Front, but the toughest bird have opposi- air in the air, as we was the redoubtable IL-2 Stormovik. The Russian said, YAKs, MIGs and could absorb quantities of bullets and fightex-bomber was not as maneuverable as the Laggs, nor as shells fast, but that often left Cannon shells and it German pilots pop-eyed with incredulity. be seen bouncing away tracer could actually from the heavily armored cockpit area of this incredibly tough machine. A Stormovik had been Erich's first victory, and he learned from experience how to bring these rugged birds to earth. The IL-2's flew low, thus protecting the vulnerable oil cooler under- neath the fuselage, and a rear gunner harassed attacking Erich's tactic for tackling an IL-2 with a rear gunner his attack at an angle of fifteen to He IL-2 straight or pulled over one after firing. and damage by rolling was to make twenty degrees, closing thus keeping the defending gun moving. fighters. fast and never attacked the He avoided wounds hard over one wing and diving under the Stormovik, a maneuver that no gunner could follow with his weapon and * Bogey is score hits. military slang for "target" or "stranger," that an unidentified airplane has been sighted. and is used to indicate THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 90 Erich found that there were two main methods by which an IL-2 could be successfully attacked. low and behind, way down to cooler would the "concrete bombers." Hits in the vulnerable on the wing Repeated wooden tail down either force method, Erich closed area. lightning strike from be- the Stormovik's underbelly, was the best firing at deck-level operations fire The in Stormovik the of the IL-2 or set from behind and root, avoiding the cannon hits it ruled on out When this attack tried to concentrate his armored cockpit and engine would cause the heavily-loaded and the Stormovik would to shear off, oil fire. The crash. two-seater version of the IL-2 proved vulnerable from ten degrees and below, as a full burst at short range would find its way through the cockpit armor. The IL-2 tougher and literally was followed much faster 1944 by the IL-10, an even bird. These aircraft had to be almost late in "hacked down." Before the appearance of the IL-10 and during his prolific scoring period in 1943, Erich scored what were probably the most unusual victories of his combat career against [L-2'S. Erich's analytical ability served battle. He him well in the prelude to this noted that IL-2's generally came from the Russian side of the lines in balls-out, straight-for-the-target droves at low tude. These gaggles often contained up rarely flew above 4500 to sixty aircraft, alti- and feet. Carrying at least two five-hundred-pound bombs under their wings, these aircraft moved relatively slowly, and could therefore be easily overhauled from behind. Erich's tactic was to climb to 1 5,000 feet after take-off, the enemy and from this height he could pick up gaggles at a considerable distance. Spotting an enemy formation, Erich began a shallow dive, aimed at passing high over the enemy and going in the opposite direction, with at least eight or ten thousand feet between them. Russian pilots looking up could see the German fighters passing above and heading east at high speed. Erich's element would give no indication it had spotted the Soviet formation, whose pilots were lulled into thinking they were unobserved. Erich kept going cast for several seconds, after which he would roll his fighter over OAK LEAVES 91 back and smoothly stroke the stick back, executing a half- on its roll or split-S maneuver. Reversing his direction and gaining speed in the dive, he would down drop If to a little below the altitude of the IL-2 formation. the sky were covered by clouds, he would approach from behind and much below the Soviet With his superior speed, Erich hammer blows that usually meant aircraft. could close in for the lethal Many destruction for any aircraft. Soviet pilots were caught nap- ping by this maneuver. Such tactics were studied on the Russian side of the lines, as the account of the career of Soviet ace Alexander Pokryshkin later will reveal. Each new tactic often by counter tactics. was met by increased When alertness and Erich pulled off this kind of inter- ception near Kharkov on a formation of IL-2's, the Russians were ready for him— or so they thought. Four Stormoviks howling along below Erich passed in echelon-Tight he implemented as maneuver. His speed built up his well-tried in a split-S The Russian pursuit and from two hun- rapidly in a dive, dred feet astern of the fourth IL-2 he opened ploding in the IL-2's cockpit. formation fire, the burst ex- leader rolled to the left maneuver, followed in hair-trigger succession by the other two Stormoviks that had not been hit. The altitude-consuming split-S attempt at evasion had disas- The bombs consequences. trous IL-2's sharply diminished slung under the wings of the the maneuverability of the concrete bombers, and they had barely 1500 feet of altitude when they took evasive action. The split S consumed this altitude in sec- onds. Four fiery blasts crashed with which it shook the sky its full had been flying. debris-strewn craters, single, swirling pall Four victories The bomb as the entire Four ghastly pyres and four pillars of legend of Karaya flared in four huge, black smoke united in a above the scene. Erich had had followed Russian formation load in the echelon-right formation in fired one full burst. in seconds. One and the Black Devil grew out of such encounters, so devastating to the materiel and the morale of the Red Air Force. The 7th Squadron history for the period 10 Janu- THE BLOND KNIGHT Of GERMANY 92 ary 1944 to 22 February 1944 refers to the Blond Knight in these "The most successful marksman during this time was Lieutenant Erich Hartmann. Once in one day he downed five, on terms: another day six." Erich's tactics up Despite frequent changes of operational base, and consistent entry into battle continued to build Uman on 22 February, where a his score. The 7th Squadron moved to Royal Hungarian Fighter Squadron was assigned to III/JG-52. March, these two units were transferred 2 moved on to Kalinovka, then again within hours to a base at Proskurov, where they scored fifteen victories before 7 March. The ron refers to this period: "Of these [fifteen mann On alone downed ten enemies in air history of 7th Squad- kills] combat thereby achieved his 193rd to 202nd victories. Lieutenant Hart- one day, and in On March 1944 2 the Fiihrer awarded Lieutenant Krupinski and Lieutenant Hart- mann Oak Leaf." The Oak Leaves were the generally always bestowed personally by the Fiihrer. Erich and Krupinski were ordered to Berchtesgaden for the investiture. Happily they formed an own, and squelching through the off for the flight home mud elite in a high state of elation. For a few minutes they circled the Erich could see the morass of war was being slugged out field, and away and snow in which the ground inhuman hardship. His thoughts he had seen barely two weeks ago, littering a German bodies snow-covered valley the Shanderovka-Korsun salient. Russian cavalry with sabers and Red tanks had hacked the trapped German unit to Erich shuddered at the memory. lie to the east mud in turned back for an instant to the twenty thousand in Rotte of their of the Proskurov base took More similar things ahead, for rumors had reached 7th Squadron Russian "mud offensive." Hell Erich to himself, as his They fought surely of a pending over the infantryman's war. in a frozen purgatory over He HQ must was not necessarily hot, thought mind ranged flew in their fast fighters. pieces. was glad which he and to his be going home. comrades With the ebullient Krupinski flying beside him, he turned westward with a profound feeling of The relief. riotous journey to Salzburg in the train with Gerd Bark- — OAK LEAVES 93 horn, Walter Krupinski and Hannes "Kubanski Lion" Wiese, has The quartet of aces from the Oak Leaves in the cere- already been recounted in Chapter One. JG-52 joined twelve other recipients of monies at the Eagle's Nest. Winners of the decoration included Maj. fighting Kurt Buehligen of the Richthofen Col.) (later Lt. on the Channel Coast, and the veteran night August Geiger, who was RAF night fighter ace The down and later shot and was the youngest winner of the Oak fighter ace killed in action "Bob" Braham. There were slender, boyish of Infantry. Wing also two slightly tipsy Erich by colonels Hartmann Leaves and the lowest-ranked recipient of the coveted decoration at this investiture. As Second Lieutenant Hartmann he stood near the end of the reception line looking like an overawed teen-ager. On the Russian Front he had already acquired rank and fame of a different kind Oak than that bestowed by the infamous Black Devil. his enemies. In his those who had stood ahead of he was the year. own A Leaves. He was Karaya One, the legend had begun around fraternity, he had qualified him among for the elite reached two hundred victories. Those few him in the deadliest scoring aerial jouster to watch as the game of all, war rolled on who knew in still that its fifth 1 f Chapter Seven ACES OF FIGHTER WING 52 In a company of heroes, only a Titan stands tall. —Anonymous Jt\. vigorous competitor since boyhood, Erich Hartmann found JG-52 an environment in which he could thrive. His climb to the award of the Oak Leaves had been hard, but his progress had been stimulated by the hot pilots who were vying with each other every squadron of JG-52. This steady competition resulted in in tlic development of many exceptional aces who won the Knight's Cross and the higher orders of that decoration. The most successful Fighter Wing in the Luftwaffe, JG-52 was credited with over ten thousand aerial victories in four years. roll call of leading personalities begins with the three top- its world— Erich Hartmann with 352 Gerhard Barkhorn with 301, and Guenther Rail with scoring aces of victories, A Germany and the The dozens of other accomplished air fighters who served with Erich Hartmann in JG-52 at one time or another include Willi Batz with 237 victories, Hermann Graf with 212, and Helmut Lipfert with 203. The Blond Knight and these five contem275. poraries accounted for the staggering total of Hard behind this stellar six came ranging from 100 to 200 victories, all 1 580 aerial victories. a covey of aces with scores of whom spent a consider- combat time with JG-52. These notables included Maj. Walter Krupinski with 197 kills, Maj. Johannes Wiese able portion of their with 133 victories, First Lt. Friedrich "Fritz" Obleser with 120, and First Lt. Walter Wolf rum with 126 victories. These are the ACES OF FIGHTER WING 52 95 scores of the pilots as they stood at war's end. rivalry in During the conflict, squadron, group and wing was constant. Scoring leader- ship often changed hands, and competition brought out the best efforts of every pilot. The man was urge to be top cessful. Rivalry was keen but a driving force in all who were friendly, in the tradition of sports- manship, and the nightly gatherings of pilots to listen to the and see how the scoreboard stood was one of the events. Success high level, and ever-mounting and played Germans held the their suc- tallies news day's chief kept pilot morale at a a key role in the psychological superiority in the air in Russia until the end, even when Me-109's were technically outclassed and buried under the blizzards of Soviet aircraft. JG-52 was fortunate part of its in the high-caliber leadership that Colonel Dietrich Hrabak has already been tradition. Kommodore introduced as the wing's mann's baptism of became fire, at the time of Erich Hart- and Maj. Hubertus von Bonin has been introduced as a memorable Gruppenkommandeur. Other exceptional leaders who left their names Condor Legion veteran Herbert Johannes "Macky" Steinhoff. A in the wing's records include Ihlefeld, distinguished career as a squadron leader penkommandeur with ents of Steinhoff, Guenther Rail and and later as a Grup- JG-52, proved the flying and leadership who once led the new German Air Force tal- as Lieutenant General Steinhoff. Joining JG-52 as a squadron leader in February 1940, he was Gruppenkommandeur of II/JG-52 two years Some later. of Germany's most successful fighter pilots passed through Steinhoff's units in JG-52, including the immor- Captain Hans-Joachim Marseille, top-scoring Luftwaffe pilot tal against the Western Allies,* who flew in Steinhoff's JG-52 squad- ron during the Battle of Britain. Major Willi Batz was Steinhoff's adjutant in Russia, and Walter Krupinski flew as Steinhoff's wing- man in most of * his early career. Steinhoff himself scored 176 victories, them with JG-52. One hundred and flown aircraft. fifty-eight victories in World War II, all British- THE BLOND KNIgAt OF GERMANY 96 With leadership of this character, success in fighting the and continual exposure to aerial combat, conditions in JG-52 en- couraged and inspired ambitious young fighter sponded with enemy pilots. They re- a level of success never previously achieved in the history of aerial warfare. In the highly competitive scoring race, Bubi Hartmann rose the score of To to the top, exceeding Gerd Barkhorn, fifty-one victories his closest rival. convey the unique accurately by human environment that brought out the best in Erich Hartmann, a few sketches of his fellow aces in JG-52 are appropriate. Since there were dozens of high-scorers, these sketches can quality, be only a sampling of JG-52 pilot although they are typical of the Luftwaffe's most success- A Wing. ful Fighter list of JG-52 aces appears at the end of this chapter. Erich friend Hartmann and onetime tribute: "Gerd would gladly the best is kill rival Gerd Barkhorn evokes from him the one leader I know for whom his this rare man every himself. Father, brother, comrade, friend, he ever met." This unstinting admiration I but rarely gets excited over old comrades, is is typical of the Gerd Barkhorn's name evokes among his comrades of the Second World War, for his personality and character made a reaction deeper impression on them than did his 301 aerial victories. There is more of the ancient knight in any other ace the authors have met. and generous; strong, merciful He Gerd Barkhorn than is in chivalrous, honorable and magnanimous— a truly heroic gentleman. Four years older than Erich Hartmann, Barkhorn in his glory days was an arrestingly handsome man with thick, dark an olive complexion and penetrating blue eyes remarkably those of Erich Hartmann. The five-foot nine-inch Barkhorn hair, like 975 as a Major General. He and his wife, Christl, died in auto accident on 6 January 1983. A daughter, Ursula, lives retired in a tragic near 1 New York City. Lieutenant General SteinhofT says of Barkhorn: choice of a good firmed." all is my World War fighter pilots. Steady, reliable, he never made a victory claim that wasn't con- the Second leader, To "He the old aces of the Royal Air Force with horn has formed friendships, as well as to NATO whom Bark- officers with ACES OF FIGHTER WING 52 whom he has served, he his are the When ways of man's success expressed he would his such that he enjoys another is own. In combat his chivalrous spirit frequently in a heroic quality that disabling a machine stricken side his foe lost his Soviet aircraft, Gerd in the scoring race, is often forgot- ten—mercy. Hartmann and others have told of Barkhorn's after and grace. for his character as itself a throwback to the days of chivalry, Hartmann passed him Erich was delighted, is 97 efforts, persuade the pilot of the to to forsake his plane for a parachute, flying along- and gesturing humanity but did not hate. for him jump. Gerd Barkhorn never to in the bitter Eastern To his Front struggle. comrade Erich Hartmann he He is fought the most unforgettable character of the war. Major Johannes Wiese was one of Erich Hartmann's celebrant comrades at the Oak Leaves investiture at Berchtesgaden, and a fellow ace of JG-52. Called the "Kubanski Lion" by the Russians because of his success in the heavy air battles Bridgehead, Wiese was a professional officer who above the Kuban entered the Luft- waffe in 1936. He came to JG-52 in the summer of 1941 as adjutant of II/JG-52, after a long spell as an instructor and reconnaissance pilot. He made a specialty of downing the IL-2 Stormovik, and about seventy of the heavily-armored ground-attack machines to his guns. kills in five On his big day in 1943, Wiese got twelve confirmed the Orel-Kursk-Byelgorod area, and on the same day forced landings himself. mand of 1/ JG-52, fell He ended and was promoted his to made JG-52 career in com- Kommodore of JG-77 as SteinhofFs replacement at the end of 1944. Ruhr against damaged para- His war career ended with a wild battle over the Spitfires. Forced to bail out, the Kubanski Lion's chute failed to open properly and he was seriously injured in the resulting heavy fall. He became a prisoner of the U.S. after the surrender. When Wiese was released by the U.S. in September 1945 and returned home, he was recognized by Communist-sympathizing Germans. As a highly decorated German professional officer who had fought against the Soviet Union, he became the victim of THEBLOND KNIG»T 9^ OF* GERMANY some postwar political intrigue. The police picked him up and handed him over to the Soviet government. Wiese joined Erich Hartmann in the Russian prisons, and was released in 1950. He moved to West Germany in 1956 and joined the new German Air Force, and when he was assigned to the new Richthofen Wing in 1959, new Luftwaffe under the he found the the command first jet-fighter wing of of his former JG-52 and Russian prison comrade, Erich Hartmann. Dynamic Guenther Rail, with 275 aerial victories, has found his Hartmann since Erich arrived at the Russian Front in the autumn of 1942 as a fledgling. A prewar professional officer, Rail made a brilliant war record, not career intertwined with that of Erich only as an ace and leader, but also as a power and courage. He man of surpassing will flew in the Battle of Britain, the Battle of France, the Balkan campaign, in the Battle of Crete, on the Eastern Front, and in the final defense of the Reich against the Anglo- American air assault. He is best remembered by his war comrades man of uncanny gifts, capable of hitting and from incredible angles and distances. The whose 225 included victories as an aerial marks- destroying his foes late Lt. Col. Heinz Baer, 120 over British- and American- flown aircraft, was a superb judge of fighter pilots as well as one of the Luftwaffe's greatest aces. Before his untimely death in a light plane crash 1957, Baer told the authors he considered in Guenther Rail the greatest angle-off shot in the perior even to the legendary Aggressive in the air, Luftwaffe— su- Hans-Joachim Marseille. a fine leader and excellent administrator, man of sixty and a retired He was Lt. General who once led the new German Air Force. perhaps the keenest competitor among all the top-scoring German Guenther Rail is today a vigorous, friendly pilots during the war, time. had He may well his luck not and he held the top spot for a considerable have ended the war as the greatest ace of all time, run out on two crucial occasions. Following a Russian flamer near dusk he momentarily forgot his victim's wingman, and seconds later the fair-haired young German dead engine. The ensuing found himself riding an Me-109 with a freak belly landing broke Rail's back, and when German infantry- ACES OF FIGHTER WING 52 men 99 dragged him out of his wrecked aircraft hours later one side was paralyzed. Condemned by the doctors never to fly again, Rail fought an epic battle back to health and strength, aided by a beautiful young lady doctor Consumed by whom he later married. the thought of his squadron mates at the front running up large scores while he lay prostrate in the hospital, Rail broke down combat all his doctors' objections flying after nearly a year and forced on the his way back sidelines. Flying into with a cushion under his leg and another at his back, he began piling up a tremendous score, of the Luftwaffe. and by April 1944 he was the top fighter pilot this time he had to leave the elite formation A{ with which he had found fame. Transferred to the Western Front, he shook hands with Erich Hartmann at the farewell party staged in honor of the departing CO. "Now, Bubi," You will be said Rail, "I won't be in your way any longer. the top scorer." "Sir," said Erich, "all our doings are kismet." Rail was proved right by events, and they never saw each other again until after Hartmann's return from Russia in 1955. Not long with after leaving JG-52, Rail lost his USAAF thumb in a battle Thunderbolts over Berlin, and subsequently had to fight a different kind of battle. The enemy this time was infection. thumb took nine months to heal, while he flirted again with paralysis. Erich Hartmann and Gerd Barkhorn both passed him His in the scoring while he was out of action, but Rail himself has no "The attrition of Western Front pilots at this time was fierce. If I had flown on, I probably would have been killed. I was glad to trade my thumb for my life." regrets concerning this period: For many months Erich's role in the new German Knight began CO. in Russia, Rail again filled this Air Force in the 1960s. his service as a Tactical When the Blond Wahn Evaluation Officer at Air Base near Cologne, General Rail was his boss. Rail contrasts with Erich because he is chosen military career. man attuned, He exemplifies a suited and devoted the best type of to his officer, keen, energetic and thoroughly professional, while Erich Hart- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 100 y mann's basic antipathy toward conventional military formed tural attitude When in life is a struc- boyhood. Erich came to the Eastern Front in the Guenther Rail was already a mature, experienced of 1942, fall officer with an outstanding combat record. Erich's boyishness, inseparable from his made his rise make some hard then extreme youth, had Rail difficult. but the two men sights into Erich to to responsibility slow and decisions involving Erich, have been friends for years. General Rail's in- Hartmann's problems have helped the presenta- tion of his life story, and within the German Air Force, Rail has been one of Erich's defenders in the controversies that have sometimes boiled around Rail, him since 1959. Barkhorn and other top aces were the men to beat in the scoring race. They were tive pressure from below, provided by the upcoming young Among the pacesetters. There was also competipilots. the lesser-known but talented youngsters of JG-52 was Hans-Joachim Birkner, who was broken wingman in as Erich Hartmann's in the fall of 1943. somewhat after Erich Hartmann, Birkner downed his first enemy aircraft on 1 October 1943. One year later he confirmed his one hundredth victory and had won Modeling his fighting style the Knight's Cross in a career of brilliant promise. Birkner was a squadron leader with 117 sion kills and a second lieutenant's by mid-December 1944, when he was commis- killed in a test-flight crash at Krakau, Poland. Some pilots appear to have led charmed lives in combat, which may be due to luck, but can be due to skilled piloting and tactical savvy. More often than not, the ability to stay in one piece rests on a combination of luck and skill. Erich Hartmann admits he was lucky, but his battles own emergence unscathed from over eight hundred aerial triumph than consistent luck, as his was more of a earlier tactical account of his methods reveals. He paid strict atten- tion on a methodical basis to the business of keeping himself alive and unwounded. JG-52 ace who survived multiple crashes and extensive combat without injury was Captain Helmut Lipfert. He Another brilliant ended the war with 203 confirmed aerial victories, and is today a ACES OF FIGHTER WING 52 101 schoolteacher near Cologne. Lipfert was shot down fifteen times, twice by Russian fighters and thirteen times by the deadly Russian flak. Helmut Lipfert joined JG-52 shortly after Erich Hartmann, and they flew together frequently during the ensuing two years. Scoring January 1943, Lipfert racked up two hundred victories in the next twenty-seven months, ending the war with his first victory in the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross as Captain Hartmann In later years, Erich likened him temperament, perennially happy and on top of A Helmut Lipfert. Rossmann in to Paule life. young contemporary of Erich Hartmann in who was JG-52 and Usch Hartmann was First Walter Wolfrum, who joined the most deadly wing in the later to figure in the lives of Erich Lt. Luftwaffe about ninety days after the Blond Knight. handsome Wolfrum had haired and eye, and did not score The dark- trouble finding his shooting months a victory until six after his arrival at the front. Between July 1943 and June 1944, Wolfrum ran up a hundred kills, but the following month was shot down and seriously wounded. Forced to leave the front cuperating, he had 137 kills. mann who among is insist that tastic distances, not behind in the scoring fell He for over six those pilots race, who months while reand by war's end flew with Erich Hart- the Blond Knight could hit targets at fan- on occasions when his point-blank attacks were feasible. Walter Wolfrum was leading a squadron in Erich's Gruppe at went into Russian confinement with his CO., even though he had been wounded a short time before the end of the surrender, and the war. A month later, cause of his wound. He Wolfrum free out of prison camp the Russians turned smuggled a letter Erich in the lining of his coat, and this missive was the first befor un- censored contact between Erich and Usch after the Blond Knight's Wolfrum and owns his own capture. is today a prosperous light plane. He is West German goldsmith one of Germany's top trick flyers. Even an outline sketch of JG-52 aces cannot be complete with- out reference to Major Wilhelm "Willi" Batz, whose 237 aerial THE BLOND KNIGH^T OFtGERMANY 102 make him the fourth-ranking living ace of the world. Erich Hartmann was for a time a squadron leader in the Gruppe commanded by Batz, and they have been friends for years. Batz by his own admission was for years a "lousy fighter," until a period in a hospital turned him from dove to hawk and saw him write one of victories the most amazing personal records of the air war. A his peacetime-trained professional Luftwaffe pilot, Batz forced way into combat flying in December 1942 He was after thousands of months getting his first victory, so disquieted was he by the successful and competitive atmosphere of JG-52. He had an inferiority complex. hours of flying as an instructor. He added a few more eleven victories at the painful rate of one or two per month, and was then hospitalized with a minor infection. He returned to combat with his perspective renewed, and in a year between March 1944 and March 1945 he ran up a staggering 222 victories. There is no other achievement like it in the history of fighter piloting. He finished the war in command of II/JG-52 as Major Batz, with 237 victories and the Swords to his Knight's Cross. With ad- mirable foresight he was able to extricate his Gruppe from the Eastern Front, sparing his men the pain of Russian confinement by getting them back to Germany. The most famous personage in JG-52 during the war was Lt. Col. Hermann Graf, whose misfortune was to be selected as a typical hero for Dr. Goebbels's propaganda build-up. A onetime blacksmith, Graf joined the hard-fighting 9th Squadron of JG-52 in July 1942. Cross, Oak Eight months later, he had been awarded the Knight's Leaves, Swords, and the coveted Diamonds. In one savage, seventeen-day period he scored forty-seven confirmed victories, and by October Erich first Hartmann joined that boyish JG-52— Hermann Graf had become the pilot in history to reach to the 1942— the month two hundred Western Front, Graf came back to kills. JG-52 Transferred later as its Kommodore was with Erich Hartmann when the remnants of the once-proud JG-52 surrendered to the Americans in Czechoin October 1944. He ACES OF FIGHTER WING 52 Graf and Hartmann went into Soviet confinement Slovakia. gether week A 103 when the Americans turned them over to the Russians to- one after the surrender of JG-52. of leading JG-52 aces follows. list testify to history. These impressive tallies won JG-52 its place in air demonstrate the challenging and competitive the long and hard fighting that They also environment from which Erich Hartmann emerged successful fighter pilot of them all. Gerhard Barkhorn 301 Wilhelm Batz 237 117 Hans-Joachim Birkner Hubertus von Bonin Adolf Borchers 77 132 Hans Dammers 113 Adolf Dickfeld 136 152 Peter Duettmann Otto Foennekold Adolf Glunz Hermann Graf Karl Gratz Alfred Grislawski Gerhard Hoffmann Dietrich Hrabak 136 71 212 138 133 125 125 Herbert Ihlefeld 130 Gerhard Koeppen 85 113 Berthold Korts Walter Krupinski Friedrich Obleser 196 203 101 120 Guenther Rail Heinz Sachsenberg 275 104 Franz Schall Heinz Schmidt Leopold Steinbatz 137 Helmut Lipfert Rudolf Miethig Johannes Steinhoff Heinrich Sturm Rudolf Trenkel Hans Waldmann Johannes Wiese Franz Woidich Walter Wolfrum Josef Zwernemann 173 99 176 158 138 134 133 110 137 126 as the most Chapter Eight FAME AND SWORDS The sterner the challenge to man, the finer the response. —Arnold Toynbee Immediately before the Oak Leaves investiture at Berch- tesgaden, Erich and the other pilots had been instructed not to give Hitler any bad reports concerning events at the ons, tactics or other matters that cussed in response to Hitler's probings. "The not the best," was the excuse given to the Hitler from unfavorable tidings. Erich soon of insulating Hitler against reality er's front, weap- might properly have been dis- Fiihrer's health is pilots for protecting saw what this process had done to the German lead- mind. After awarding the decorations, the Fiihrer spent half an hour with the blond-headed second lieutenant from Stuttgart and the other pilots. Hitler's powerful presence soon dissipated what mained of the celebrations found himself dictator. a thoroughly sober train to Salzburg, young man Pacing the huge main room one whole wall of drop, on the as re- and Erich he listened to the at the Eagle's Nest, with glass providing the snow-crested alps as a back- Hitler exuded a personal dynamism that riveted Erich's attention. Strongly positive personalities like General Heinz Gu- derian have testified to Hitler's power over even mature officers of high rank. He ruled them by the sheer power of his will. Now the twenty-one-year-old Erich got a brief but unforgettable insight into Hitler's personality. The Fiihrer showed a detailed grasp of the air situation on the FAME AND SWORDS 105 Eastern Front— circa 1942. He knew all about the superiority of Me-109 over Soviet aircraft— circa summer 1941— when most Russian machines were of older design and inferior performance. Hitler knew the caliber of the armament and numerous technical the details, but it was yesterday's knowledge. Erich became evident that comprehend the facts, felt distressed as it possessed of the power to Hitler, obviously nevertheless had no grasp of the true situation facing the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front. All precautions were being taken to ensure that the facts were denied him on the basis of the unavoidable questions: formed, and When if so, his health. Erich Was asked himself Hitler being deliberately misin- why? Hitler turned his talk to the Western Front, he asked the assembled pilots for their views on attacking the American bomber boxes. man The Fiihrer frankly admitted to the weakness of the Ger- air defense. Ace Kurt Buehligen and others who had fought hard on the Western Front asked for long-range weapons rockets with which formidable USAAF armed Fortresses. fighter escorts. Hitler listened carefully fighter They beat down the far-ranging and to tackle the heavily asked also for more fighters to like and comprehendingly. He said that production was being increased rapidly. Rockets were be- ing developed and improved. He then summarized the war situa- tion for his assembled fighting officers: "When the Anglo-Americans launch their Second Front, we will push them back into a Second Dunkirk. The submarine arm getting new U-boats to cut the Atlantic supply we are building a big defense system lines. ern Front, On is the East- against which the Russians will bleed themselves to death." The Fiihrer spoke quietly and which so many who knew him have positively. testified The magnetism was so powerful be almost physical. Erich found himself enveloped in flux, this to as to arcane being carried along by the confidence the Fiihrer exuded. His impression as he shook hands with Hitler before departure was that he was in the presence of an idealist surrounded by ugly and opportunists. That the Fiihrer was walled off by lies from reality was beyond doubt. The situation was hardly inspiring lackeys THE BLOND K N I G H*T OF GERMANY T 106 to a front-line soldier, but Erich was not the only one who was troubled by the war. In Stuttgart he found his sweetheart anxious and upset, despite her obvious happiness at their reunion. Usch's lovely face clouded as conversation returned again that kept eral days and again them apart and rationed between Erich's flirtations "Erich," she said, "the war is war— the to the their happiness to a tyrant few ephem- with death. getting worse many. Even the propaganda cannot hide the come by day, and the British by bombed again and again." and worse truth. Even night. for Ger- The Americans Berlin has been Erich tried to reassure his sweetheart. "The Fiihrer told us about new weapons that are being and tested. Perhaps they will turn the tide and end the war." built Erich spoke the words, but his heart wasn't behind them. Usch knew it. we don't know how it will all end. Shall we get married now, while we have the chance, and take what happiness we can "Erich, even while this awful war goes on?" Erich wanted desperately to say yes, but the experiences of the Good pilots time. He might grinding Eastern Front were too raw in his mind. were being shot down, killed and captured be next. That was no way to begin life all the together— with Usch per- widow, or worse— possibly the wife of a crippled or maimed ex-fighter pilot. When he took her lovely face in his hands, he al- haps a most caved in, but he managed to say what he "Usch, darling. We must felt wait. Perhaps in a was right. few months all will change." Erich was not quite twenty-two years of age and this may have been a factor in his decision. Erich found no stimulus for his shaky optimism in the outlook of his wise physician-father. When he walked into the house at Weil, his mother was delighted to see the Oak Leaves at his throat. "See, Papa," she said, "look at the beautiful decoration your son has won." A glow of pride beamed in the briefly happy scene of Erich and took a look at the Oak Leaves, out of Dr. Hartmann his mother smiling mumbled as he took together. He something about their FAME AND SWORDS 107 being handsome, and then sat became sion "It is down in an easy chair. His expres- grave. good that you do well as a pilot, Erich, very good. you must know that Germany is already beaten. But Irretrievably beaten." Dr. Hartmann picked up "Even the the Stuttgart newspaper. fantastic writings of Goebbels can no longer hide the facts." "But Papa, the Fiihrer said "Erich, the Fiihrer has said them proved many things since 1933, most of untrue. Goebbels has our armies in Russia 'advanc- back to our own borders. Surely you believe what your eyes ing' tell . . you when you look down from the Which way are we going, air over the Eastern Front. Erich?" Erich threw up his hands. "You are right, Papa. We are retreating everywhere." "Then be prepared for the end of all this. I am making ments for you to study medicine at Tubingen, because believe this terrible struggle can go on much longer. arrangeI don't Mankind has gone mad." The two weeks in Stuttgart flew by, farewells to his family there might not be haps his father was and to Usch, he felt for the many more right. leaves or As he flew back on the Eastern Front, the words of his mind with the and when Erich first much more time that flying. Per- Gruppe of JG-52 and Usch mingled in to III his father confident predictions of the Fiihrer. not decide between said his He could optimism and pessimism, and when he touched down at the 9th Squadron's base at Lemberg the mental debate ended. The stern business of duty came first. His return to the front on 18 March 1944 opened with good news. As Erich slid back his canopy the squadron adjutant was waiting. Erich clambered out mel. and turned the fighter over to Bim- He took the adjutant's outstretched hand. "Welcome back, Bubi, and congratulations." "Congratulations on what?" "You are now First Lieutenant Hartmann, and official confirma- THE BLOND KNIGlfT 108 come through tion has hundred and second for your two hundred and first and two victories." At the promotion party that mood GERMANY OF* night, Erich found the somber of his last leave permeating the festivities as the pilots sat The drinking his health and good fortune. Shoptalk didn't help. pilots were discussing the disquieting ers to fly all towns tory the in ability of the American fight- Germany with the Allied bombers. Facnorthern Germany were being pounded. Pilots' way into seemed relatives in these areas in more danger than the men combat every day on the Eastern Front. The snatches flying of conver- sation contributed to Erich's gloom. we could wish "I tough they fire are. . tackle the Mustangs. ." . . . down Muncheberg ." in ". When was over, the pilots . . Did you know that Mustangs "Jd, and I heard they . . ." The shoptalk dragged on went stumbling back to their tents in the rain. if Mustangs ap- field. The makeshift slippery, in- the final round of congratulations and drinks There would be no operations tomorrow— even peared over the how North Africa?" got Oesau near Aachen, too. terminably. I'd like to see "Rail says that they are faster than the Spit- and more rugged. shot ... sodden the Me-109, with strip at grass. its dawn was a mass of waterlogged ruts and Conditions were perfect for accidents in narrow undercarriage and tricky landing characteristics. For at least six take-off and months 7th Squadron had been operating under conditions of extreme pressure, constantly moving from base, dogged by the Red Army, the weather and a They had operated from no fewer than thirteen different bases in the final four months of 1943. The JG-52 War Diary describes the conditions at Lemberg in the spring straitened supply situation. of 1944: March-23 March 1944: "Due to the bad weather, the 12 field is very soggy. Since the tank trucks cannot get through, the planes have to taxi to the filling station. This affects operational readiness adversely and consid- erably, because the oil coolers water to prevent overheating." must be continually sprayed with FAME AND SWORDS And "On ski. later: 22 March However, The IO9 the Gruppe was The Kamenets Podol- was impossible because of weather conditions. this staff flight tried, snowstorm. to transfer to but had to come back because of a heavy transfer was actually carried out 23 March with a cloud ceiling of 100 meters [328 feet], and in a heavy snowstorm. In the meantime, the own artillery So much had to move enemy had come into position for the Eastern on the so close that our field." Front fighting conditions that have so often been depicted as easy for fighter pilots. Operations continued sporadically throughout March, and the major attainment was by five hundredth III Gruppe. This unit scored on 21 March 1944. Gruppe had left Soviet territory aerial victory March, the entire % thirty- to join the 9th Squadron at Lemberg, where Erich had added a few on 18 March 1944. The jam-packed Lemberg its tne en ^ of kills after his return than fighters its Long support. hard-pressed taxiing times strip was playing host to facilities and and waiting duced operational range and made an single for take-off sharply re- early return from only a few minutes in the action zone, because he tion at the field. He would have knew to wait ten to fifteen field was little air situation more than tacks a treacherous bog. German The Americans mounted on Rumanian targets. retreat, four-engined knowing that American bombing missions from in became worse bomber Colonel Dieter Hrabak, JG-52's modore, had often cast an apprehensive eye to inevitable. the itself, on the Eastern Front, already precarious February and March during the early in April. the situa- minutes in the pattern before he could land. Aside from the runway The strikes Erich was often compelled to return from the hunt after essential. Lemberg more far runway could at- Kom- his southern flank, Italian bases were Mustangs would come with the bombers. The Ameri- can offensive led to orders for the transfer of JG-52 squadrons to Rumania. Accustomed his 9th to crash transfers to makeshift airstrips, Erich Squadron initially viewed the shift to Rumania and as routine. THE BLOND KNIGHf OF GERMANY 110 The 9th was assigned to the town of Roman. Flying the aircraft down proved no problem, but the movement of ground personnel and essential maintenance equipment proved hazardous and time- When consuming. Ju-52 loaded with equipment tried to a burned on the heights. The other via fly machine iced up, then crashed and across the Carpathians, the were accordingly routed Ju-52's Vienna, Belgrade and Bucharest when the bad weather per- sisted. The is had begun pell-mell situation that to rule in the Luftwaffe Command's next decision. Having sent Roman, including Erich's 9th Squadron, exemplified by the High 111 Gruppe of JG-52 to Command the High units to the Crimea. was forced to immediately retransfer these A last-ditch effort had to be made to stop the rout in the South and provide protection for the retreating Ger- man Army against the hordes of strafing Russian aircraft. Operating from Zarnesti near squadron began taking a heavy supply difficulties. Erich's Command tories ordered that a toll by mid-April 1944, Erich's of the some with They were hurled Red Air Force, despite burdens were increased when the High number of pilots with five or be transferred to the Reich Defense. in their place, time. Zilistea Raw young into the air at odds of up but Erich kept intact his record of never having These young in flying, pilots came pilots than a hundred hours' less more vic- came total flying to thirty to one, lost a wingman. to the front not only inexperienced but also steeped in the old tradition of dogfighting. In the brief time available for such instruction, Erich would pass on them the quintessence of his own experience. you see enemy aircraft, it is not necessary for you to go straight to them and attack. Wait and look and use your reason. to "If See what kind of formation and tactics they are using. See is a straggler or if there an uncertain pilot among the enemy. Such a pilot will always stand out in the portant to send one see the loss down and experience air. in Shoot him down. is more im- enemy pilots psychological effect— than to wade flames— so that its It all the into a twenty-minute dogfight in which nothing happens. "There are some things that are more important in the overall FAME AND SWORDS 111 picture than just scoring a cally large and getting The Russian kill. Air Force you score a larger all the time. If numeri- is kill and Anyone who does this will not lead an element after it happens. From the day you make your first flight here at the front you must think, think, think, as lose your wingman, you have the battle. lost never before. Fly with the head and not the muscles. That's the best advice That On can give you." advice, when young Germans followed, kept a lot of alive. 18 April 1944, orders were received from Galland's transferring fense. I Guenther Rail and Walter Krupinski They were two fighters. Rail still of JG-52's best leaders now behind him. West, he would secure in the 275 kills, over fifty victories Erich Hartmann, but his best scoring days were As Kommodore of JG-11 Reich De- and most formidable held a scoring lead of about victories to bring his tally to to the HQ a few more but another wound and ensuing infection virtually put him out of the war. In his farewell to Erich, tively that the it seemed as though Rail knew intui- dynamic youngster would reach the top of the Rail was right; Lt. Willi Batz took over as tree. Gruppenkommandeur from Rail, and Erich was temporarily assigned to direct Gruppe operations in the Crimea. More scoring was in the offing. In April 1944 Erich ran up another nine victories. Three, four and even five sorties a streak into his He continued his May 1944, Erich and day were commonplace. May. Between 10 April and 10 former wingman, Technical Sergeant Joachim Birkner, each scored twenty-one victories. Erich's success did not blind the writing on the wall. The Crimean JG-52 was ordered out. Eight aircraft Erich's orders as a rear guard, but attacks left only retreat by 9 was becoming a were May him left to rout. behind under 1944, incessant Soviet one Me-109 operational. Evacuation was essen- tial. The Me-109 proved tions tional, itself a veritable work horse under condi- of emergency. Several battered fighters were made opera- and then the R/T's and armor plate were removed from behind the pilot's seat. Ground personnel who had made emergency modifications then crawled into the pencil-thin these fuse- THE BLOND KnIgHt'oF GERMANY 112 lage— two to an aircraft— and were flown out in and his 7th Erich Squadron Hartmann pilots.* personally provides a reminiscence concerning emergency evacuation, a useful addition this by Erich relays to the history of the Me-109: "After pulling out the cockpit armor plate and radio, you have a baggage compartment perhaps four to four and a half feet long. A small man can crouch in there, with his head alongside the pi- head. lot's "During the emergency evacuation from the Crimea men in the fuselage after I put two removing the radio and armor, saving them from capture by the. Russians. The inspection plate for the R/T, when removed, provides a hole big enough for men to crawl inside. "If they lay men in the on top Me-109 of each other, fuselage. There I carried a couple of wings, and two available, I men in my lift aircraft, firmly believe the no problem with power, be- them with plenty of spare 30-mm cannon slung under the cause the engine was big enough to capacity. is you could actually put four and if the cubic space were Me-109 could have carried five or men." six Erich got his squadron out of rally of sorts and I Gruppe staged a out of Zarnesti to keep the ever-present Stormoviks the backs of the off Zilistea, mean venture was German over, and infantry. By 18 May 1944 the Cri- Erich's squadron was again ordered Rumania, where an advance commando unit had prepared the base. From Roman, operations began against the Roman to in American B-17's and B-24's that were pounding Rumanian to targets knock that country out of the war. By two the end of victories May, Erich had confirmed an additional beyond the nine scored in April. sion, his intuition again saved him from of an aggressive Russian pilot. North of On one thirty- May mis- destruction at the hands Jassy, the Luftwaffe moni- Hartmann, Rail and Krupinski have all recounted to the authors details of crowding two mechanics into the after-fuselage of the Me-109. The emergency measure saved ground personnel from capture by the Russians. * HUNGARIANS WITH THE LUFTWAFFE: Hungarian pilots to VORLAUF1GES B E S TZ Z E U G N I I JG-52 in 1944 against Russia. S to From aid left, were attached in the struggle the officers here 102nd Hartmann of JG-52, are Captain Pottjondy (Hungarian Brigade), Lt. Erich Captain Gerhard DER FUHRER UND OBERSTE BEFEHLSHABER DERWEHRMACHT Barkhom of JG-52, Major Kovacs of the Hungarian Forces, Captain Helmut Lipfert oj JG-52 and Captain Heinz Sturm ofJG-52. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY: HAT Debonair Erich Alfred Hartmann shortly DEM Oberleutnant Erich Hartmann after being decorated with the "Schwer- tern" (swords) by Chancellor Hitler. Erich DAS EICHENLAUB MIT SCHWERTERN ZUM RITTE RKRE U DES EISERNEN KREUZES AM 2. Juli 1944 Hauptqiiartier d.Ob.d.L. L ' ']>sr , DEN VERLIEHEN. 20. Jul: 1944 Chef des Luf twaff enpersonalants Generaloberst CERTIFICATE: This lorzer, is the certificate signed by Generaloberst Chief of Luftwaffe Personnel, on 20 July 1944 to accom- pany the Swords award to Erich Hartmann. had scored his 239th aerial combat victory to win the honor. Boyish "Bubi" posed for this photo about 1 August 1944. MOMENTOUS OCCASION 24 August 1944: Radio operator Carl Junger, wearing met, listens as Erich hel- Hartmann reports shooting dow n his 299th victim, an Airacobra. "One more makes 300!" says Junger holding his finger up. At left is War Correspondent Heinz Erkert. BELOW lets (JG-52) LEFT: Sgt Junger Hartmann re- out a yell as ports "Bull's eye" for his 300th aerial victory. (JG-52) victories. SAFELY DOWN! Hartmann shuts down Me-109G-14 (Werk number 166221) and ground crewmen await his arrival. whirls his the engine. Other pilots (JG-52 into parking position ana (JG-52 ') CELEBRATION WREATH: 0\ The ground crews have prepared a wreath offerns and flowers. They throw around his neck! It has some needles in it. CEREMONY: Hartmann to it tries brush the needles out of his collar as he gets ready to receive the plaudits of the 9th Gruppe personnel. 3AC ENROUTE TO THE EAGLE'S NEST: Lt KruMajor Barkhorn, Major Wiese and Lt. Hartmann pose in the brisk temperatures in the pinski, mountains at Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden enroute to Hitler's Eagle Nest on 4 April 1944. All except Wiese, a non-drinker, were soused on cognac fed them by the conductor on the long overnight train ride to the mountains. CONGRATULATIONS!: Commanding General of visited the 9th tations to Gruppe Hartmann in General Seidemann, Lt. the VIII Flying Corps, Russia after his to convey his felici- 300th victory. Seide- mann was only one ofmany generals who came to see (JG-52) this "Richthofen " of WWII. ADJUTANT ADJUSTS THE MEDAL: Major von Below, Hitler's Luftwaffe adjutant, adjusts the Dia- monds award at Hartmann s collar. DIAMONDS FROM A. HITLER: Erich Hartmann salutes Adolf Hitler when he schanze on 25 August 1944 highest military award. reports to the Wolfto receive Germany's FAME AND SWORDS tors 113 had determined that approximately 375 Russian fighters and 370 ground-attack aircraft faced JG-52's atrophied formations. On 29 May Erich had flown a successful mission against these Russian concentrations, and was returning to his base at with Lt. Orje Blessin on his wing. Erich was a let his little Roman weary, and he thoughts roam to the party that was planned that night for new Gruppenkommandeur\ Willi had shot down fourteen planes in three missions. Good comrade Willi had been several years finding himself as a fighter pilot, and now he was turnWilli Batz, the ing into one of the best. Droning along over friendly territory, Erich happily the forthcoming party and the relaxation it would be schnapps, singing and some Rumanian would be a relief mulled over would provide. There girls. The party from the incessant grind of operations. These days, thought Erich to himself, we are having less and less to celebrate. Erich's lifesaving intuition overrode these pleasant thoughts like a small, insistent, electrical shock. Snapping back to attention, wingman was still with him. Blessin was in position, just fine, but lancing in on him was an uninvited No. 3— a Red fighter about to hold his triggers down on Erich swung his head around to be sure his Erich's wingman. "Break right! Erich into the Break right and go into a steep dive," barked R/T. Lieutenant Blessin was a sharp young pilot, and he took imme- diate evasive action as a stream of Russian tracer sliced through the air where his fighter had been plunged after the diving German right and went racing instants fighter. before. The Russian Erich immediately broke after the Russian. All three aircraft went hurtling toward the deck at full throttle. As Erich began closing in on the Russian, the Red He had pilot never looked back or took evasive The Russian was so utterly determined to shoot down Blessin he forgot about his own tail. Erich knew he could shoot down the Russian if the right ma- action. target fixation. neuver were executed. Blessin could be relied on to follow orders. "Karaya Two. Pull up. close the enemy." Make a shallow turn to the right so I can THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 114 Blessin obeyed. Erich went slicing across the Russian's pursuit turn and was soon approaching point-blank range on the Red fighter's right quarter. "Look back now, Karaya Two. See what happens when you don't watch your tail." Erich pressed his gun buttons and the cannon and machine guns roared in a Red fighter. A and full burst. Shells blast shook the hammered bullets the Russian machine blew up air as and went tumbling down, shedding burning Watching the black smoke. How and pieces trailing impact, Erich shook his final fiery, into the him and Karaya One to have gone down the same way. The Russian had both him and Blessin cold. But for that sharp intuitional warning— the dread feeling in the backside— the smoke might well have been climbing head. easy it would have been up from Erich Hartmann's funeral more By in gratitude flew back to Roman than triumph. He twenty months of combat. sians than to most of Germany's immortals in the needed 250 He pyre. the end of June 1944, Erich air for that score, and with it, still victories, better known gained in to the Rus- his Luftwaffe contemporaries, for to join On victories. was had 247 1 final year of the war, a fighter pilot Hartmann reached fame. Once more, the July 1944, Erich permanent rugged Stormoviks figured in the historical life Blond Knight. of the Flying above a layer of ragged cloud, Erich spotted three IL-2's doing their devil's work on German artillery positions. The Stormoviks were intent on their victims, as they circled at low altitude strafing passes. The stick forward, Erich went and made Russians neglected their tails. Pushing the ing up from behind and below the Stormoviks ing his fire until the last fifty yards. a full burst, strike The first and Erich breaking away was on the second Stormovik. Down at full tilt com- and hold- Russian exploded from in perfect position for a to point-blank range he and again the Russian staggered and went down burnAnother pass on the third Stormovik, a full burst, and another went ing. into a shallow dive, again, explosion. Speeding away from the scene of battle, Erich looked FAME AND SWORDS 115 back and saw three smoke palls marking the crashes of the Stormoviks. When he landed, the Blond Knight was the JG-52 since of aces Guenther Rail had reached first. 250 this level of success. soon to die in the Me-262 been to reach fighter pilot of first victories. Only a handful Major Walter Nowotny, jet against the American heavies, had Rail had been next, then Gerd Barkhorn and Otto "Bruno" Kittel of JG-54— only five fighter pilots all told, of Erich was the last. No others would share their company. Bimmel Mertens and his back and took care of the whom crew thumped their young C.O. on the aircraft. Other squadron mates chaired the shyly happy Blond Knight from the airfield to the mess. had celebration just got under way when Bimmel burst The in, his momentarily cooling the exuberance of the obvious agitation gathering. "What is "It's it, Bimmel?" the armorer, said Erich. sir." "Anything wrong?" "No sir, no. Nothing wrong. But you twenty rounds, A sir. For three kills. I fired only one hundred and thought you should know." roar of admiration erupted from the throng of pilots and the schnapps began flowing. Willi Batz, the Gruppenkommandeur, celebrated with them. Just as proceedings began to slow down, advice came from Hitler's HQ been awarded the Swords to that First Lt. Erich his Knight's Cross, the exalted de- gree of the Iron Cross standing above the Only one other first Hartmann had Oak Leaves. lieutenant had qualified for the Swords in the history of the decoration. As a squadron leader with JG-52, Hermann Graf had won the Swords on 18 May 1942— more than two years previously. The fighter pilots who had won the Swords were the Luftwaffe's men of legend, classical heroes First Lt. like Galland, Moelders and Luetzow; daredevils like Heinz Baer and "Guile" Oesau; dedicated leaders like Rail, Ihlefeld and Gerd Barkhorn; and the world-famed Marseille and Nowotny. The award of the Swords placed Erich Hartmann among Ger- The The pilots boosted the Blond Knight on many's famous soldiers. party fresh stimulus. dazzling news gave the celebration THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY Il6 their shoulders once more and chaired him around the dugout bar. "Karaya* One! Karaya One! Schwertern (Swords) for Karaya ." One! . . The chanting, cheering and singing dinned into Erich's brain. Somehow, he out of place amid the uproar staged in his felt The whole honor. thing seemed almost unreal. His thoughts turned to the devoted Birnmel, probably out there on the this One minute, sweating over Karaya never fail him. Then his heart could find his thoughts raced to Stuttgart, what The Swords were to ensure the ship it really sought from supposed to be playing where alone life. How crazy this war was. deadly scoring this game day He meant medals, adulation and parties. He chased and kill him in turn. That was To those wanted from who were life was to be with his was after day. Russian boys and they tried to All he really would wonderful, yes, because their award meant another brief leave with Usch. Success field killed crazy. Usch. there that night in the dugout bar, Erich Hartmann seemed detached and withdrawn. The smile that flickered occasionally on his handsome face was happy enough, but the cast of his features was sad. As the young flyers celebrated the award of the second highest decoration of the Third Reich, Erich was with them but not one of them. Generals and marshals had won The honor was front-line soldiers. young man, cited as great, visit to Hitler's burg in East Prussia, to receive the to On in lift but Erich was not an ex- he had been when he won the Knight's Cross and the Oak Leaves. His ensuing little field the Swords, together with a handful of valiant, HQ Swords from the at Inster- Fiihrer, did his spirits. August 1944 Erich entered the wooden barracks building which Hitler had survived the 20 July bomb plot against his life. 3 The walls, structure beams out still of showed the plumb and effects of the blast. Splintered the scorch marks of an explosion were the backdrop against which a changed Hitler moved to greet * Karaya He was second was the radio or identification of Erich's combat One and his wingman was Karaya Two. The was Karaya Three and his wingman was Karaya Four. Karaya flight call sign flight. leader of the FAME AND SWORDS 117 a group of ten Luftwaffe heroes.* Erich was shocked at the ap- pearance of the Fuhrer. Hitler moved slowly, the compelling quality of personality that had struck Erich cal tended his left few months before immersed now a When awkwardness. in his physi- he shook hands with Erich, Hitler hand, while the right hung slackly at his ex- His side. by the explosion, the Fuhrer had to turn his ear toward whoever spoke. He was a shadow of the man Erich right ear deafened left had met he nevertheless had at Berchtesgaden, but men. To the best of his front-line fighting mann remembers would put bomb a Any to escape himself. it possible that a in this building to kill who was officer German he was taught to all German looked in the pockets of am men me, and reactionary cowards. Schoerner. step find I tell is to my day have never am left alive God while has de- hunt down these counter- my General Staff my generals, except furthermore that me have them running to losses, I the truth. Most of Rommel, do not understand Model and do not officers first I try officers. were killed and badly wounded. my then in this building that sorry that through this cowardly act other good livered officer as a soldier, me and could have drawn his pistol and shot me, face to face. "I message for like this: it "Never would I have believed would be so cowardly, so untrue that he a his recollection, Hart- HQ their jobs. crying about heavy fighting I and but never are these generals killed or wounded with their men. "For the future American invasion are will new weapons I am will optimistic. I expect that the Anglo- be turned into another Dunkirk. There of incredible power coming my life on July 20, so that I I think why I believe God may lead Germany in this change the whole course of the war. This spared to hand, that is hopeful period ahead." Erich left the Wolf's redoubt overborne by a dark intuition. The Fuhrer on one side was deeply enraged, and on the other full same ceremony was Major Heinz- Wolfgang Schnaufer, the top Luftwaffe night-fighter ace, who ended the war with 121 night * Decorated victories. in the 1 f THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY ll8 of hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation. His speech had been slow and quiet, but not reassuring— not something that the Fiihrer could have the front. mentum Erich umph The in Hitler, knew you believe in spite of forces of disintegration Germany, and even what could be seen were clearly gaining in the Luftwaffe itself. that the Swords had brought him fame. Every henceforth would be studied and celebrated. dated by his new eminence, but deeply could see engulfing Germany. periences of the past year, steadiness he could summon He felt He tri- was un- disturbed by the ruin he older and wiser for the ex- and he knew he would need for at mo- what lay ahead. all the Chapter Nine HAWKS STALIN Seek out your enemy! Do not ask how strong the enemy is, but where he is to be found. —Motto tively exceeded the American 1939-1945 totals of Erich career, Front exceeded one hundred and of recording conclusion Hartmann the top-scoring British and fighter aces. Sketches already presented of fellow aces in JG-52 reveal that scoring combat early in his of the Soviet fighter pilots many German victories. aces Since the Hartmann's on the Eastern German methods verifying victories were accurate and reliable, the seems inescapable that Hartmann and other high- Eastern Front aces faced inferior opposition— both in planes and pilots. This conclusion can be justified only in a limited way, because on many aspects of the Eastern Front air war bearing fighter operations are Germany. If but little known in the Russian inferiority in planes and pilots as a universal explanation for the success of the Russia, West is outside accepted German aces in then the notable achievements of Soviet industry and Russian fighter aces will be obscured. Dislike for an ideology or a regime must be set aside in assessing the historical facts of Soviet air power. Germans, Americans and British alike have long shared a fatu- ous conceit concerning Russian achievements, and the disasters that have befallen the German people since 1941 may be deemed to have originated in their leaders' underestimation of the Soviet colossus. For the Americans, the space race should have deflated THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 120 now by the sense of universal superiority held by America in attitudes toward things Russian. of a low standard of living The its Soviet Union's combination with brilliant technical achievements confounds the conventional Western mind and leads to massive errors of judgment. In evaluating the Eastern Front achievements, an error is air committed ourselves that he was shooting enemy could and did shoot war and Erich Hartmann's we if down ducks back, with perior in performance to the Me-109. uncritically convince The over the Steppes. first-line aircraft Some often su- of these machines were flown by the top-scoring Allied aces of the war— Russian lots who handily outscored the British and the Americans. and unbiased view of Erich Hartmann's victory fore focus primarily tally A must pifair there- on the quality of the Russian opposition, both and human. technical Published engineering data* precludes the theory of inferior Russian aircraft as a blanket explanation of high From had German scores. the beginning of the Russo-German conflict, the Russians at least As respects. one fighter that was superior to the Me-109 m most the war progressed, the Soviet aircraft industry not only produced other types of fighters superior to the many vari- ants of the Me-109, Du t also accomplished prodigies of aircraft production, far outstripping the The Germans in this sphere. authors in their previous book, "Horrido!" Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe 7 \ dealt extensively with the character of the East- ern Front air war and the differences between this vast conflict and the air struggle in Western countries Germany as the the West. There to regard the major arena of craft losses sustained is a natural tendency in Anglo-American aerial conflict. assault In truth, the on air- by the Soviet Union were approximately twice those suffered by the Anglo-American gest air air air forces. The big- war was fought on the Eastern Front. * See Asher Lee, Soviet Air 'and Rocket Forces (Garden City, N.Y.: War Planes of the Second World War, (London: Macdonald & Co., 1961); and Famous Fighters of the Second World War (London: Macdonald & Co., 1961). Doubleday, 1961); William Green, Vol. t Ill New York: Macmillan, 1968. STALIN HAWKS 121 Reorganized in 1939 to gradually become a separate service from the in Red Army, the Soviet Air Force had previously been hampered development through its army tight control. The Air Division under the reorganization became the largest unit, each Air Divi- from three to sion consisting of or five squadrons per regiment. six air regiments German made up of four estimates of Soviet air strength, at the time of the invasion of Russia in June 1941, con- cluded that the Divisions Red Air Force had between forty and containing approximately fifty Air 162 regiments. Overall nu- merical strength was estimated at about 10,500 airplanes. Red or fighter forces later variants, the I-151 its and I-153. biplane introduced to seat, gull-wing Civil were equipped primarily with the I-16 Rata, War. Obsolescent MIG-3 and in 1941, the air The Rata was combat a single- in the Spanish Rata was being replaced by when Germans struck. Less than a quarter of the Russian conversion to modern monoplanes had been achieved when the Luftwaffe arrived to make bonfires the Lagg-3 fighters out of the Soviet parked on bases along the front. air fleets virtual eradication of Soviet air Russia in the first the power The as a factor in the defense of ninety days, was one of the Luftwaffe's most complete triumphs. Tactical ground support remained the primary mission of the Soviet Air Force even after the 1939 reorganization. As a conse- quence, nearly to carry fitted every periority fighters that bomber strikes available aircraft, including fighters, was German air su- accompanied Luftwaffe bomber and fighter- bombs. In early encounters, the took terrible toll of bomb-carrying Soviet fighters the invaders. Subsequent Soviet Air Force orders forbade Russian pilots of fighters carrying bombs to engage German air superiority fighters, so that combat was often refused by intercepting the Russians. ness, The Germans until interrogation of attributed this to a lack of aggressive- downed Russian pilots revealed the truth. The Soviet Union was in many respects better prepared for the challenges of the air war than were Britain in 1939 1941. Special attention and America and planning was devoted in in Russia to building up a reserve of trained pilots. Similarly, preparations for THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 122 large-scale were so production on a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis aircraft advanced by 1941 that the Russians were able to recover rapidly from the air blitzkrieg of June and July 1941. The Russians maintained a steady flow of pilots from their training far schools to man the flood of fighters that poured from Soviet fac- tories. Russian losses were severe throughout the war, but their fighter improved steadily pilots as the war progressed, in contrast to the degeneration of pilot training that plagued the Luftwaffe fighter strategic bomber allowed armament factories and flying schools Luftwaffe. As a consequence, all this ma- Germany's lack of a four-engined force. the U.S.S.R. to operate vast beyond the reach of the teriel and personnel had From late to be dealt with 1942 onward, Russian aerial tide that grew air reached the front. it power became an irresistible in strength with the passage of every By mid- 1944 the Russians dominated Front and were after far superior tactically to their these facts, the legend that all month. the air over the Eastern Russian Front 1941 status. Despite air combat was some kind of easy picnic for the Germans has enjoyed such long currency that rule out it has become almost The facts the Red Air a historical doctrine. any blanket conclusion that flying against Force was easy. Hartmann Front combat to the fighter asin the West. The hails of bomber streams on lead and steel that filled the air made it inevitable that a pilot constantly in action would fly into some stray projectiles someErich likens Eastern the Allied saults time. "Often there were ten of us against three Those are long odds. being shot down, too. A hundred Russians. mid-air collision was almost as likely as We had to plan our attacks against these we never would have survived." quality, the experience of German hordes with great care or As to Russian pilot aces on the Eastern Front varies widely. In day-to-day operations over long periods, the logically. Germans felt superior, both technically and psycho- This was especially true of the top theless there is German pilots. Never- virtual unanimity concerning the quality of the Guards Fighter Regiments, the elite These Russians earned the Germans' of the Soviet fighter arm. respect. STALIN HAWKS Crack Soviet They were the fearless and 123 pilots were concentrated in the Guards Regiments. real fighter types, aggressive, tactically formidable, some flying of the finest fighter aircraft in existence. Their operations were vitalized by the same kind of unquenchable morale that characterized the immortal "Few" of the Battle of Britain. The aggressive spirit of these Soviet pilots is illustrated in a re- markable incident near Orel, involving a young Stalin Lt. An Vladimir D. Lavrinekov. downed an Me- 109 in a flat field. The in battle, ace with thirty Hawk named kills, Lavrinekov and watched the German pilot land Luftwaffe pilot scrambled from the cockpit and dashed for cover in a nearby gully filled with trees and underbrush. Red Army Circling low over the scene, Lavrinekov saw that would probably not locate the German, and that he might fore escape. The young Russian to the crashed ets in units there- lieutenant landed his fighter next Me-109, and led the searching infantry to the thick- downed German, and pouncdeath with his hands. The Russian the gully. Lavrinekov found the ing on him, strangled him to ace returned immediately to his fighter and took off in a cloud of dust, leaving his dead foe at the feet of the open-mouthed Russian infantrymen. The Guards Regiments produced the pilots of the Second World War. The top-scoring Allied fighter desire to denigrate every- thing Russian on account of ideological enmities cording of history. There is a widespread and ill serves the re- irrational prejudice against considering the Eastern Front air war as comparable to the Western Front air struggle, pilots in history ever faced the of the Germans on the Eastern but the facts are that were half life Front. Similarly, the Soviet Union's The top Russian as large again as the best have remained in obscurity fighter odds that were the daily way of outstanding fighter aces have not been accorded a chroniclers of the conflict. no fair pilots, American and hearing by whose scores British scores, for a quarter of a century. German aces on the Eastern Front were either shot down or forced down many times. The exposure rate of these pilots was the highest in history. Using Erich Hartmann as an All the leading example, his fourteen hundred sorties and eight hundred aerial THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 124 battles, most of them fought against high numerical odds, made inevitable that he would be He tion of his encounters. at a tactical disadvantage in a propor- estimates that approximately two hun- dred times he found himself under the guns of Soviet While Hartmann, Rail, were probably the most fighters. Barkhorn and the other top German aces skilled air fighters of all time, the numeri- odds against them, the law of averages and sheer chance cal it re- downed one way or another. Wherever the Guards Regiments were operating, the Luftwaffe sulted in their being The could be sure of solid opposition. stood below the Guards in skill, but masses of Russian pilots still took their toll of the Germans in the long battle of attrition. The top Soviet ace of the Major General Ivan Kozhedub, scored sixty-two aerial vic- war, more credited with Major Richard ace, and seven other Soviet pilots are than the top-scoring Anglo-American against the Luftwaffe, tories Pacific victories I. Bong, with his forty victories scored in the Theater of Operations. Ivan Kozhedub was born in 1920 in the Ukraine, the son of a He factory worker. got into flying through one of the many avia- tion clubs that flourished in the U.S.S.R. during the 1930s. His career with the Guards Regiments three awards of of the Red Hero of the Soviet Union, Air Force led him to a decoration approxi- mately corresponding to the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor. Kozhedub is reported to have commanded the North Korean Air Division of fighters in 1951-1952 during the Korean equipped with MIG-15 units were craft which were lighter air- USAF F-86E and F-86F "Sabres" with which they Whether Kozhedub flew any combat sorties in Korea is than the did battle. jets, War. His an unanswered question nearly twenty years that he did so since he was at that time a United States military authorities later, but young man it is possible of thirty-one. feel certain that skilled Russian possible that did fly combat in Korea, and believe it Kozhedub added to his sixty-two kills of the Second World War. is pilots Kozhedub's autobiography, ern Zone historical count of of Germany work of in 1956. interest his life, the I Attack, is was published What should in the East- and could have been a instead a turgid, highly polemical ac- supreme experience of which is his admission STALIN HAWKS to the Communist 12$ Every aspect of party. from his career, early school days through to his winning his country's highest decoration, is seen through a red prism, which distorts even as it colors a brilliant flying career. The most famous Soviet fighter ace, and one quently opposed JG-52, is Star as aerial victories, Hero is credited with fifty-nine and during the war he of the Soviet units fre- Colonel Alexander Pokryshkin of the Guards Regiment. "Sacha" Pokryshkin confirmed whose Union also won his Gold three times. Pokryshkin's career many common elements with those of numerous German and Allied aces. The international fraternity of old aces could recount many similar stories. Regardless of the uniform worn or the flag has served under, most fighter aces have been through the much same fires in the same way. Pokryshkin was inspired during his Siberian boyhood by the He left at Novosibirsk to seek his fortune via aviation school, but achievements of Russian pioneer aviator Valery Chkalov. his home his enthusiasm turned to dismay when he found that the aviation school was strictly for mechanics and not for flying training. He began ing, but superiors his filing semiannual requests for transfer to pilot train- mechanical aptitudes were so outstanding that his consistently denied his requests to become Pokryshkin, however, would not be put off or put down. a He flyer. joined the Krasnodar Aviation Club, which operated under the Soviet Ossoaviakim scheme, and like Erich Hartmann in Germany, he learned glider flying. Pokryshkin also learned parachute jumping, and then graduated to powered flight. At the age of twenty-four he took his first hop in October 1937 in a lumbering U-2. Still serving as an aircraft mechanic, Pokryshkin soon soloed suc- cessfully, and passed his pilot's examination. requests for transfer to piloting, superiors He persisted in filing and eventually he wore down by sheer persistence. His transfer was finally his approved. Pokryshkin joined a fighter training unit at Kacha, and was shortly afterward assigned to a regular fighter unit of the Force. Whatever sense might have induced Red Air of egalitarianism the Russian Revolution in Pokryshkin joined the fighter squadron. was given a rude He was still jolt when he wearing mechanic's in- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 126 signia on him. and his uniform, He was would barely his fellow pilots talk to stigmatized in their eyes because he was an ex- mechanic, while they considered themselves legitimate The undaunted Pokryshkin soon proved than just an upstart mechanic. His able, and his detailed knowledge of pilots. himself to be was undeni- fine piloting skill aircraft construction gines far exceeded that of his fellow pilots. more and en- They soon accepted him completely, but the range of his knowledge would normally have diverted him into service as an instructor. Pokryshkin was able to avoid dynamic and avid this sidetrack largely interest in aerial tactics. favor during this period He by keeping a diary and setting concepts as they developed. His Bible was tactical bats, a classic book on First World War through his did historians a My down his Air Com- fighter tactics, written by Captain Rene Paul Fonck of France. Fonck was the top Allied fighter ace of the war, with seventy-five confirmed aerial victories. and studious, Pokryshkin practiced Fonck's Serious, determined theories and maneuvers tending them to the fit mock aerial combat, modifying and new generations of fighter planes. He in exin- troduced innovations. His mechanic's training in mathematics had endowed him with diary his tactical all maintained The a drive for precision, and he sketched maneuvers and those of this routine his was looked on as throughout his combat career. of a had been fight the something inherently bad and bourgeois. This Second World War for Russia. substitute. young Russians. Dogmatic The experience of the that the Russians for the was modern aircraft design. with the former. steel nerve was the usual Germans who fought them most part had to veri- overcome a psycho- more challenging than the techniques They conquered the latter, and battled logical barrier as pilots, far of result quick decision, hair-trigger initiative— were blunted in millions of fies The men who fighting—high indi- that the qualities essential to success in air viduality, to- mass psychology in which individualism outlook became structural in the generation of young were to He opponents. trends of post-revolutionary culture in Russia ward the production in his STALIN HAWKS Born 127 in 1913, Pokryshkin was through childhood his formative before the compulsive elements of Soviet education had years time to work on him in depth. He became a great ace because he comprehended from the outset the importance of the individual in aerial combat. Through his endless sketches and persistent studies of maneuver, he could see how an exceptional pilot in an inferior aircraft might well defeat a less competent opponent superior machine. This conviction was reinforced by mock combat. Hartmann on the German all in a the experi- ence he acquired in Like Erich a devotee of the sudden, swift in developing this Sokolov, who flew mode and violent Pokryshkin became attack. His early guide of attack was a veteran fighter pilot with him in the first insisted that the sudden, savage strike immediately, leaving the tle side, enemy won the psychological bat- and ready pilot rattled shot out of the sky. Pokryshkin wrote in his diary: victory are maneuver and named squadron he joined. Sokolov "The to be factors of firel" Pokryshkin had devoted himself primarily to aerobatics and maneuvering. When of bringing the other still to learn. he turned man down by gunfire, he found he had much When he prac- firing pass after another Sacha couldn't shoot to save himself. ticed with a drogue target until his his attention to the actual business he made one ammunition was exhausted. Hundreds of rounds flew off into the blue while the drogue suffered three or four hits. A puzzled Pokryshkin could not understand his inability to hit the target in the air. His approaches were perfect, and he followed the gunnery instructions in the Air Force manuals to the letter. He resorted to his mathematical background for the answer. He sat down and figured out trajectories, bullet velocities and the problems of point. many He air-to-air shooting from a mathematical stand- covered pages with involved calculations, and drew graphs. These labors brought him to the reached by Erich Hartmann in actual combat Wrote same conclusion many years later. the elated Pokryshkin: "Success depends on firing from close range." Convinced that the problem was position for point-blank attack, compute the proper initial Pokryshkin drew more maneuverto THE BLOND K N I G if T O 128 ing diagrams for this purpose of anticipation. "The nite angle as follows. the next day in a fever approached the cone from a I and attacked, pressing on the when, according to aside. off GERMANY He wrote of his experiment: was secret and took 1? For a young inaccuracy and all the rules, pilot, that I firing defi- buttons at a time should already be swerving was taking a big risk. The slightest should be pumping lead into the towing plane I instead of the cone. "When we 'What in hell landed, the pilot who towed made you crowd in But neither fellow that way'/ continued is what firing the drogue was furious. on me like that? You could kill my hand nor eye deceived me. a I from short range, and with deadly accuracy. That in-fighting in air combat means." Pokryshkin through mathematical analysis had found the same basic tactical formula that Erich would ity find for him many Hartmann's native analytical years later. The abil- similarity of their concepts and findings seems remarkable. Both found the validity of their conclusions verified in actual combat. In over six hundred sorties and in fifty-nine victories, Pokryshkin found no reason to question the accuracy of At the time was of the German his prewar findings. invasion of Russia in 1941, Pokryshkin a fully-fledged fighter pilot serving in the Ukraine. after the first German area in which the fighters many assault, fighters of Two he flew a recce mission to JG-52 later days Jassy, an encountered Pokryshkin's With MIG-3 times during the period of Hartmann's service. Lieutenant Semyonov as his wingman, Pokryshkin in a and two above his Russian element. Pokryshkin hauled back on the stick and began a sighted five Me-ioc/s, three at lower altitude German element. German fighter zoomed and Pokryshkin swift climb toward the higher The pilot of the leading countered with a man's the tail. stall turn that brought him around on the Ger- Closing in to point-blank range, Sacha sent a burst into Me-109 from all guns. The German fighter burst afire and went roaring earthward, trailing smoke. Exulting over his error that cost many first kill, the young Russian tyro fighter pilots their lives. made the same He watched victim plunging downward, fascinated by the fiery spectacle. his The STALIN HAWKS 129 German's wingman bounced Pokryshkin while he watched the show. Sacha snapped back to business as his port wing was stricken riven by a series of cannon shells and went lancing past tracer his canopy. Pokryshkin put his MIG-3 and into a dive to deck level, half- crouching in his cockpit behind his armor plate— like Erich Hart- mann on His first escape. combat mission— he went hedgehopping home. triumph had been tempered by the narrowness of his his first Fighter aces Guenther Rail confess could not resist the of eminence of Adolf Galland and when they to being similarly clobbered watching a spectacular crash. Galland almost lost and was wounded. Rail ended up in a crash that broke his back and put him at death's door. Pokryshkin thus learned this his life fundamental lesson in the same way as two of Germany's finest pilots. The bold Pokryshkin, with his mode proved in hot war, nevertheless got fighter-to-fighter combat until of attack now clearly opportunity for more little the autumn of 1941. He flew in- numerable reconnaissance missions, but seldom tangled with Ger- man and fighters. He never ceased studying the art of aerial maneuver, in later battles he found that was prompt and appropriate. moves so much his response to a part of his existence that doing the right thing in enemy He had made moves and he was combat— and staying alive as attacks counter- instinctively a result. Pokryshkin's innovations were largely responsible for breaking the Soviet Air Force out of the strait jacket of horizontal maneu- which all prewar Soviet fighter doctrine had been confined. Taught to fly and fight in horizontal planes before the war, the ver in Russians were rapidly re-educated to the 1942 aerial tors to He realities by 1941- combat. Improved aircraft performance and the new low-wing monoplane era tactics, new opened vertical maneuver and Pokryshkin was among the most to fighter significant contribu- Russian tactical development. used the climbing spiral often for evasion. Against the advice more conservative comrades he practiced the snap-roll as a speed-killing maneuver to make pursuing Germans overshoot and thus become his victims. His leadership, knowledge of aircraft of his THE BLOND KNIGlfT OF GERMANY T 130 him design and engineering, and his abilities as a tutor brought to the front rank of Russian fighter pilot personalities. What Pokryshkin taught others he had himself wrought in the memory permitted him of war. His photographic fires details of every in sketch form, maneuver and performance combat. in and hung down many times. down set all these details dugout walls with diagrams, his Like the top charts. Pokryshkin was shot He to recall graphs' German pilots he He made numerous faced, forced landings and his comrades were often aghast at the shattered condition of his fighter when he staggered back from battles with the Luftwaffe. enemy was Pokryshkin's passion for knowing his He insatiable. not only kept detailed records of maneuvers, but also flew captured German He these maneuvers and wrote ciencies of the German put himself in the place of a He Me-109. superior to the rugged at length on the qualities to be pilot in and defi- considered the best Soviet fighter planes German bird. Over the Kuban Peninsula, where a what he believed carefully noting fighters, their weaknesses. regiment again mixed for his protracted period with JG-52, Pokryshkin developed his basic formula for aerial combat, into four words: "Altitude, Speed, With good and aircraft knowledge and experience distilling his Maneuver, leaders Fire/' Pokryshkin, the Guards like Fighter Regiments were afraid of no one in the Many air. times JG-52 radio monitors were startled to hear Russian R/T transmitters switch on to German frequencies. The Russians would throw down the gauntlet with a challenge in "Beware, all German pilots. The German. ace Pokryshkin is in the air!" This kind of fighter pilot morale was probably exceptional on the Russian side, but it was the common possession of the Guards Regiments. They painted their aircraft in wild colors, favoring brilliant red patterns, and in every way were the counterparts of the best fighter units in other air forces. Pokryshkin resembled Erich Hartmann in yet another way. believed in the careful guidance of as a to fundamental accomplishment new pilots, to of leadership, making them aces by experience and tutoring. keep them and He as a He alive prelude took pains to STALIN HAWKS 131 explain the art of maneuver, using his profound knowledge backed up by his beloved diagrams. number ing eye, and a Hero who Alexander Klubov, is owed their credited with over the Luftwaffe, was broken in and trained for leadership by Pokryshkin. Star as taught them to bring in their shoot- of the top-scoring Russian aces success to his tutoring. fifty victories He Klubov was twice awarded the Gold of the Soviet Union. As Russia's best-known Pokryshkin thus fought ace, and like, to Hartmann. Pokryshkin a great degree tactically thought like, Erich more with Colonel Werner Moelders than with any other Luftwaffe pilot and fighter leader. The Russian was about the same age as Moelders, and his tactical insight and perseverance in developing new methods are strongly reminis- nevertheless can be equated cent of Moelders, who was largely responsible for freeing the Luftwaffe of old-fashioned tactics inherited from the First World War. "Daddy" Moelders had the same kind of precise mentality as Pokryshkin, and the German leader's careful direction of young pilots has, by their own present-day admission, allowed them to enjoy a prosperous middle age in contemporary Germany. Propagandist distortions of the Russians should not be permitted to obscure Pokryshkin's achievements as a fighter ace, leader and tactician. nize him His fame is well-earned, and it is appropriate to recog- book since he fought so frequently against Erich in this Hartmann's units There is in JG-52. no firm evidence that Pokryshkin and Erich Hartmann ever fought each other aloft, but nor can it be said with certainty more than eight against formations com- that they were never direct aerial antagonists. In hundred aerial manded by battles, Pokryshkin, many it is of them possible that the Blond Knight did encounter the famous Russian, but no one can say for sure. Both aces were shot For down historical fighter aces down many times. purposes the authors include a with thirty or more aerial with the Soviet via or forced air historian victories. M. Mosskov, and Miss Jean Alexander of London, British Cassidy Group of researchers with whom This list of Soviet list originated reached the authors air historian, she is and the associated. As of THE BLOND KNIGHT* OF GERMANY 132 November 1967 it is believed to be the most accurate aces available. Soviet Aces of World War II: Kozhedub, Ivan Nikitch 62 Pokryshkin, Alexander Ivanovich 59 58 Rechkalov, Grigorli Andreevich Gulaev, Niklaev Dmitrievich Yevstigneev, Kirill Alekseevich 57 52 Glinka, Dimitri Borisovich 50 Klubov, Aleksandr Fedorovich 50 Pilipenko, Ivan Markovich 48 46 46 46 Vorozheikin, Arsenii Vasil'evich Kubarev, Vasilii Nikoleevich Skomorokhov, Nikolai Mikhailovich Kostilev, Georgi Dmitrievich Morgunov, Sergei 43 42 Popkov, Vitalii Ivanovich 41 Alelyukhin, Aleksei Vasil'evich 40 Golubev, Viktor Fedorovich Golubev, Vasilii Fedorovich Luganskii, Sergei Danilovich Pivovarov, Mikhail Yevdekimovich Gul'tyaev, Grigorii Kapitanovich Dolgikh, Anatoli Gavrilovich Kuznetsov, Nikolai Fedorovich 39 38 Koldunov, Aleksandr Ivanovich Babak, Ivan Il'ich Kamozin, Pavel Mikhailovich Lavrinekov, Vladimir Dmitrievich 37 37 36 36 36 36 35 35 35 Pavlushkin, Nikolai Sazonovich 35 Gnido, Petr Andreevich Kotchekov, Aleksandr Vasil'ovich Lukyanov, Sergei Ivanovich 34 34 Sytov, Ivan Nikitich Chislov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich Chubkob, Fedor Mikhailovich Borovykh, Andreii Yegorovich Zelenkin, Mikhail Mikhailovich 34 34 34 34 32 32 Komelkov, Mikhail Sergeovich Krasnov, Nikolai Fedorovich Ryazanov, Aleksei Konstantinovich 32 Stepanenko, Ivan Nikifirovich Golovachev, Pavel Yekovlevich Kirilyuk, Viktor Vasil'evich Akmet-Khan, Sultan 32 32 32 31 31 3° list of Soviet STALIN HAWKS 133 Arkhipenko, Fedor Fedorovich Bobrov, Vladimir Ivanovich 30 30 Glinka, Boris Borisovich 30 Likhobabiyi, Ivan Dmitrievich 30 Likholetov, Petr Yakovlevich 30 Makharov, Valentin Nikoleevich 30 Pokryshev, Petr Afanas'evich 30 Khlobystov, Aleksei Stepanovich 30 Chapter Ten DOWN AND DIAMONDS 300 If Aye be Jousting's rightful King, then Sov'reigns be my Peers. —Anonymous en week Erich returned to the Russian Front during the third in July 1944, Air Force aircraft he found the numerical superiority of the Red more evident than were present in ever. American and about the same numbers MIGs hordes of YAKs, Laggs, Stormoviks and at an alarming sharper ment now than aircraft ace-leaders most rate. as always, were tactically ever before, and their red-painted Guards Regitalent. The Guards had Kozhedub, Pokryshkin, Rechlakov and like but the were multiplying fighter pilots were manned by top-grade whom of The Russian British lend-lease had fifty or more others, victories against the Luftwaffe. These men were dangerous. An German aggressive targets on his pilot on the Eastern Front could doorstep in the abounded within fifteen summer minutes of of 1944. take-off, numerous rhubarbs and continuing success and for Erich. Red this find aircraft meant Between 20 and 22 August 1944, he shot down another thirty-two With 282 victories to his credit, he had obliterated more July 1944 aircraft. than fifteen squadrons of Soviet aircraft. His only rival now for top- Gerd Barkhorn. Uncertain communications and confirmations of victories had Erich and Gerd— scoring honors was delays in official the man he admired most and neck for several weeks. in the entire Luftwaffe— running neck 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS A 135 great dogfighter, Barkhorn stood out in what the Germans called the "circus" type of air fighting. Consistent his scoring more once he found shooting eye, he his and steady owed his in eminence to this quality than to wildly spectacular days of multiple downings. Like Rail before him, Barkhorn suffered wounds that kept him out of the air for long periods. of Ploesti against the USAAF in ing the ceiling of his hospital away at the On Red Air Badly wounded in the defense June of 1944, Gerd was kept study- room while Erich kept hammering Force. 23 August 1944, Erich had a big day. Eight victories in three He had missions brought his score to 290 victories. passed Gerd Barkhorn and was now the top-scoring ace not only of the Luftwaffe, but of all the air forces in all the wars. When Barkhorn was transferred soon afterward to the Reich Defense, all challenge to Erich's leadership was over, but a challenge of a different kind still lay ahead. A fever of anticipation gripped Erich's squadron mates as the incredible total of three historic hundred aerial victories drew The attainment lay within his grasp, but a lucky Ivan or an accident might rob him became more marked Moelders had first of the prize. the gifted Colonel went on Germany had been proud and almost 100 victories now seemed a remote an imminent When tension in the squadron Werner "Daddy" exceeded von Richthofen's First World War when record of 80 victories, and then victories The as the days rolled on. Barely four years ago, to pass 100 victories, incredulous. By comparison, historical oddity, possibility for Erich the brilliant but underestimated other historic new mark, but were hot on Gollob's heels. with 300 Hartmann. Gordon Gollob Moelders's record to 150 victories on 29 August 1942 Front, near. aces like Luetzow, it Oesau and others the 200 victory mark, but within a short time there were others to share his distinction. of mando, had JG-54 and was an- In a blaze of glory on the Eastern Hermann Graf had broken Nowotny lifted later of the raised the record to Me-262 250 jet victories, Walter Nowotny Komonly to be out- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 136 stripped by Guenther Rail, Otto Kittel, Hartmann. The magic 300 mark Gerd Barkhorn and Erich glittered tantalizingly now, a scant eight victories away for Hartmann. The high excitement of this time has fortunately been preserved contemporary account. Master Sergeant Carl Junger, onetime in a wingman and long-time squadron mate of the Blond Knight, had the presence of mind to write down his version of events the day after Erich's greatest triumph. A own right, Carl Junger was an aggressive, black-haired dynamo who fought hard and lived hard. Hartmann recalls one occasion in Krakau, Poland, when a furious binge JG-52 fighter ace until three in the for morning preceded the squadron's Warsaw. Junger pair of sunglasses, morning. Two on lay poleaxed and incapable of The squadron left his cot, stark early departure naked save for a rising to the challenge of the without him. hours later in Warsaw, Junger appeared in a lone Me-109, bringing up the rear. came in his While Erich and in for a landing. Just as he was uncomprehendingly crossed the his pilots letting watched, Junger down, grass strip after a Polish farmer making a sudden change of direction with horses and two huge hay wagons. Junger hit the bucolic convoy with a tremendous crash, and the scene disappeared behind a huge pall of dust and straw, out of which an innocent horse came flying pling noises subsided as the pilots cloud. When fighter was went sprinting over they got to the crash site, all when how stirrings sorry to the dust that remained of the a pile of twisted metal, unrecognizable as Erich was about to say accident, end over end. Loud crum- an aircraft. he was that Junger had to sounded from under the die by pile of twisted structure. Junger suddenly crawled out of the shambles, stood up, and with sunglasses still in place, said, "Thank God the Earth has me again." Next day, he was back flying combat. Carl Junger later sent the story he wrote on 24 August 1944 to Usch Hartmann. He wanted her to have it was uncertain that Erich would ever return prisonment. as a keepsake, alive when it from Soviet im- DOWN AND DIAMONDS 300 137 THE EDGE OF AN ADVANCED AIRFIELD "AT 24 August 1944 by Master Sergeant Carl Junger "Yesterday was a great day for combat history of holder of the eleven enemy tories to three Oak flying. My A us. day unprecedented in the Chief, First Lt. Erich Hartmann, Leaves with Swords, in two missions shot and with planes, He and therefore three hundred mark, is is number the this raised hundred and one. the first down of his vic- to have passed the the best fighter pilot in the world. "Even The yesterday, good spirits were in evidence all over the field. question that buzzed from lip to lip was: 'Will the three- hundred mark topple today? Can Bubi do with excitement and anticipation. sent eight Ivans into eternity it?' The day and had All of us were tense before, our Chief raised his figure to had two hun- dred and ninety. Yesterday morning the weather did not look Not promising. noon did until it clear up, thus reducing opera- tional time to half a day. After lunch came the first mission, and our squadron leader did not waste the chance. Right after he lifted off with his wingman we started counting the minutes. "Exactly one hour later, two aircraft appeared on the horizon The familiarly-marked Me-109 of our twenty-two-year-old 'Old Man' wagged its wings, pulled up, made another pass and wagged again. And then another and another and came toward our . . . with five joy. and then six times. Everyone cheered and shouted, wild The Chief had two hundred and Only four more "We field. to go. ninety-six kills now. Hals und Beinbruchl could hardly wait for the two ships to become operational again. Refueling and rearming seemed there were arguments we to take forever. and bets amongst the rest of us. Meanwhile Can he do it today or must is ordered. Everyone scrambles to the machines, the blond-haired Chief in the lead. wait another day? Suddenly another mission THE BLOND KNIGHT Of'gERMANY 138 "He clambers easily into the cockpit. He buckles himself in, as steady and unexcited as ever. His features do not betray his emo- Only tions. A mouth. about the corners of a slightly harsh line plays cool one, this. his Quietly and with deliberation he begins the cockpit check for this decisive and historic mission— one that him will bring there, it "At was a to the For those all fighter pilots. who were unique experience. his sign, the and then ever RPM. Then head of crew begins to start the faster until the starter is machines. First slowly, running at the highest and a slight jerk, a turning of the propeller, finally the They smooth down and the Chief starts, easing his fighter to the runway with his wingman behind him. "They pause faced into the wind. The roar of a final run-up reaches our ears. Then comes take-off. Billows of dust swirl up engines are running. from the sun-dried earth lift gracefully into the next hour bring? air. With where already everyone man with earphones between the listen. The ships. as the slender fighters race forward ships, course east. a reporter is we What is will the drive to the advanced area, in a fever of anticipation. who He Two and We R/T listening to the walk to a conversations hands us earphones and we plug in and ." . . reporter with Sergeant Junger correspondent Heinz Eckert, on that who plugged historic in day was war headphones during the epic mission and gave this contemporary account of the en- suing action. "The other, air-to-air is communication, by which the very terse. Only the most essential is pilots said, inform each and even this by words of certain meaning, where one word may stand for a whole sentence. Sometimes, there are long breaks between the sometimes address and reply follow each staccato counterpoint, and often in dramatic crescendo individual other in dialogues, when within a few minutes one enemy aircraft after another is being shot down. Then, two words, sometimes only one, characterize this happening, but the listeners on the ground are wholly absorbed by the breath-taking excitement. "Now, everybody two poor is gathering around the operator and those receivers of his headset. It might happen any moment. 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS The operator is 139 fingering the buttons of his set . . . he is a little nervous, as though afraid of missing the call of victory. "15:44: tions?' Hartmann to ground: 'Have 'None/ 'Why the Ground you any enemy observa- do they chase us up, then?' 15:50: Hartmann: 'Enemy echelon over Sandowiez approach- to hell ing/ damn! . Squadron watch out! 'Eighth "15:51: . . Airacobras . / 16:00: 'Bull's-eye!'* 16:03: 'Bull's-eye!' 16:06: . . . . 'Watch out backward and upwards! Airas to the right! Bull's-eye!' 16:07: 'Watch out upwards!' 16:09: 'We'll get this one!' 16:10: 'Attention! Bull's-eye!' Call of wingman: 'Congratulations on the three hundredth!' Ground Hartmann: 'Congratulations to "During the next five !' minutes, the operator cannot take any more messages. Everything goes crazy. He cannot understand a word because of the ensuing hubbub. Then it goes on. "16:15: 'Six kilometers west of Sandowiez. Six light bombers, height 2000 meters, circling. . . Ah . . . . another echelon, there's they're P-2's.' 16:17: 'Eight kilometers east of Ostrowiez, height 3000 meters, fighter echelon. them! 16:19: 'Get at 16:23: Wingman behind us to the 'Roger!' 16:37: 'Go One left. 16:35: down for a fighter front open We can't get at them, dammit!' 'Bull's-eye! for burst!' two aircraft with them/ 16:27: 'Single is . landing, I'll rock the wings five times.' sat with us in front of a tent, shirt we had been and daydreaming talking about his bride-to-be. Her photo stood on the table. He had looked down and laughed the merry laugh of a youth. "He said: 'There is air- . to a cooling wind, looking thoughtful same time, Impact out, there are one of our own. / 16:29: 'Look out Wing to Hartmann: 'Congratulations!' "Only an hour before he at the . 16:20: / . . Hartmann: 'Look to craft to the left! That's back!' . . a hair on my chest, now I'm going to be a man!' At that moment, he was called for take-off on mission; the curtain closed over a little at his chest this historic piece of insight into his ego, uttered lightly and laughingly, with self-irony—a joke and knowledge of himself all rolled * Bull's-eye Hartmann means into one." "direct hit" in the fighter language at this time. —Authors employed by Erich 1 THEBLONDKNIG HT -p OF GERMANY T Master Sergeant Junger again takes up the narrative at the on the squadron's frenetic scene 'The news airfield. and 301st of the 300th came upon us like a busy. Wreaths are being victories redemption. Everything becomes wildly rapidly braided in the final few minutes before the Chief's return. Shields are painted, inscriptions are painted, rough banners fash- The ground crew is milling around like a swarm of bees, with Bimmel proud and square among them. "Soon the ships must come back. Everyone who can leave his ioned. post streams toward the parking spot of the Chief's plane. There and captains and lieutenants mixed cheek-by-jowl with are majors mob the ground personnel, united by of pay homage. my I desire to glasses under arm. 'To avoid being flies through the the opening. late in the uproar, air in a great curve. Not drop is the crowd. Everyone is a Chief comes soon. "My ming on common have a bottle of champagne and two open the wire around the I top of the champagne bottle now. There in their happy. hope he comes I clap am tion that lie "After the behind The can only think, and we wait eagerly will and with nostrils. The this hope my soon.' Hartmann taxies his One comes drumand concentra- his pulls his machine up, and crowd of comrades, makes a machine easily to its waiting berth, moment when he will stop his engine. quickly. He runs the big motor up again, for the not favor us so his 'I can be understood only by a few. amidst the exultant cheering of He over the sorrowful one resources of energy this feat fifth pass, Lt. perfect landing. my palm This time, Lt. Hartmann waggles his wings five successive passes. .him at I I I wish was seemingly his command. Karaya in over the field. But he Quickly Suddenly, lost. and the cork a bang, is canopy open, lets the slip stream play about his who can squeeze his hand and congratulate Bimmel Mertens, his crew chief. Without envy, only one time is everyone else stands and waits. "As the engine roar dies away into a turns for the last time, there Gruppenkommandeur, Willi is hiss no more Batz, jumps and the propeller restraint. up on the The acting ship. JG-52's 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS 141 Kommodore, Colonel Dieter Hrabak, pump the Chief's hand. We lift him he gets out of the cockpit, and he lei off sits on the shoulders of two that was fashioned at the last minute neck. For a moment, the moment the aircraft the Bimmel Mertens. comrades, one of them the proud "A up beside him. They springs reporters intervene hung around is his and momentarily take charge as they get their photographs. As they shoot the Chief from various it is angles, we know impatient, even though a one-time occasion. "The Chief and we become as his feet asks to be put No his shoulder-high perch, touch the ground, everyone him on the to shake his hand, pat glance. down from one who was present is crowding in on him back, or at least to capture his will ever forget those minutes. the peak of excitement passed, the crowd began to thin a and we all As little walked toward our quarters. "In the meantime, chairs and tables had been brought, and without restraint we Colonel Hrabak all sit sitting is down around our beside him and is Chief. This is his day. joyfully toasting him. At the Colonel's prompting, the Chief must recount the last suspenseful moments of his aerial battle. Everyone listens intently, suppressing their excitement as he tells the story. "After an enormous feast, preparations for a bration are made. Bimmel and sight is The Chief wants his technicians. put on ice. around the Chiefs A little special to hold a special party with Every bit of alcoholic beverage in semicircle with straw as cushions tent. mined hour, everyone is Only the moon and stars A cele- built in the middle. fire is present. A At deep, black night are our spectators. The is placed a predeter- spreading. is fire is lit. The leap- ing flames give the faces a unique expression. "The bottles are passed, and we all drink with the Chief until shortly after midnight. When ashes, deeply impressed and moved by the up, bid the Chief good night day, which none among us Next day Erich was wood falls into occasion, we all stand the last piece of and go to bed. will ever forget, So this came adventureful to called to Colonel Hrabak's tent. its close." There had been comradeship between them from the day Erich arrived at the front. When the time came for Hrabak to get some additional THE BLOND KNIGHT 14in order to victories Keeping such a his leader. fine Now comrade things to fly as his safe had come Hrabak reached out and pumped "Bubi, was a Wreathed in smiles, Erich's hand. The has Fiihrer to report the day after tomor- the Wolf's redoubt at Insterburg, to receive the award to from the Fiihrer." known Erich had victories his fighter's finest tribute to Congratulations! congratulations. at his Kommodores wingman. full circle. awarded you the Diamonds. You are row GERMANY win the Oak Leaves that now hung had been proud throat, Erich *OF along that all he reached three hundred if he would be awarded the Diamonds. mind He was prepared in for the exalted decoration, but the official advice the Fiihrer's HQ still hit him with terrific from impact. Hrabak was still talking. "Only seven monds day-fighter pilots* whole war. in this . have been awarded the Dia- . own thoughts. One thought came uppermost. He would see Usch again, because there would be home leave after the visit to the Wolf's redoubt. ". before you go, Erich, we must of course have a big celeHrabak's words mingled with the whirl of Erich's . . bration party for the Diamonds. It is a rare honor, and JG-52 is proud of you." Hrabak wrung Erich's hand again and he stumbled back out of the Kommodores believed that he a short time. He tent. would Two years ago Erich excel all Germany's air would never have heroes within such thought of poor Paule Rossmann, now in Russian And Bimmel, what would one man got the award for the hands. Paule was a part of this success. he have done without him? But only work of many; that was the military way. The celebration party went boomingly, as the pilots replenished the squadron's supply of alcoholic beverages by cajoling, borrow- and bargaining. Another joyous night passed around the fire. Erich's head was still pounding when he climbed into his Me-109 ing * Moelders, Galland, Gollob, Graf, and Hartmann. Nowotny, Marseille (posthumously), 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS 143 maps that he would use the following day and checked the navigate to Insterburg. As his fighter leaped into the of his elated to an escort air, comrades flew around him, keeping watch over the lone Me-109 until was well behind the it Then with lines. a final wing-waggling salute they flew back to war, while Erich droned westward to the Wolfs redoubt. bomb Since the unsuccessful July 20 to quickly eliminate the plotters had moved and everyone remotely connected The with those directly involved. plot, the Fiihrer terror Hitler had unleashed was changed atmosphere of the Wolf's redoubt reflected in the as Erich reported to receive his Diamonds. Fear and suspicion were evident on all Fuhrer's aides sides. The Security precautions were ultra-tight. HQ had divided the into three zones of security, with an absolute prohibition against sidearms in the third, or inner zone. To get his Diamonds, Erich would have to enter the third summoned decorations zone. Most soldiers and take regulation felt to receive would have been glad enough Hitler off their pistols. to high comply with the Erich felt from security himself balk. He humiliated by the suspicion inherent in the regulation. Con- trolling the rage that surged inside SS security "Please him, Erich spoke coolly to the officer. tell the Fiihrer that I do not want to receive the Dia- monds if he has no Vertrauen* in his front-line officers." The security officer went pale. "You want me to tell the Fiihrer that you will not Diamonds? Because "Yes, please. Tell receive the of the pistol regulation?" him what "Wait, please, Hartmann. I I said." will see Colonel von Below." "Please do." As Hitler's Luftwaffe aide, Colonel von Below had already en- countered Erich Hartmann before. He had been up the Blond Knight when he arrived in a tipsy condition. award. The * Literally in at Salzburg the previous year He had met him long-suffering forced to sober again prior to the Swords von Below had a lot of experience German, "true-believe"— roughly equivalent personal faith in the integrity of another. in with English to THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 144 young fighter Now, pilots. would have cavalier Hartmarm for this brave blond boy the old to be a modifier of security regulations. If refused the Diamonds, Hitler would probably go on a rampage. The tall, blond Colonel von Below stalked out to the security officer's desk, a weary expression of resignation on "Hartmann, you can wear your come in Erich pistol if you his face. insist. Now please and get your Diamonds/' felt down himself cooling as he walked into the Fuhrer's reception room. In the normal way, he took off his cap and pistol belt and hung them on the stand provided. Hitler came in and took no notice of the presence of the weapon. Erich noticed that the Fiihrer was markedly hung limply at Hitler's eyes more stooped, and that the right arm still his side. were sunken and dull. His face was haggard and he looked completely exhausted. As the tired old man who had once held the world in thrall handed Erich the Diamonds, the Blond Knight saw that the "I one good arm was trembling. Fiihrer' s we had more like you and Rudel,"* said Hitler. some coffee and brief inquiry after Erich's family, wish After Fiihrer indicated that they would go lunch. Erich walked across the it to the an adjoining building room and got his pistol belt for and put on. The Fiihrer said nothing. Together they walked to another building containing the dining room. They sat down, and Hitler began discussing the war. This time, he spoke in different terms from those he had used on the previous two occasions when Erich was in his presence. "Militarily, the war politically, there are is lost, Hartmann. You must know this. But such vast differences between the Allies— the and Americans on the one hand, and the Russians on the other— that we have only to hold on and wait. Soon the Russians British will be fighting the British and Americans only alternative is for us to and you know what that will as well as ourselves. The be overrun by the Bolshevist hordes, mean for the fatherland." Colonel Hans-Ulrich Rudel, leading Stuka pilot of the Luftwaffe, and Kommodore of Schlachtgeschwader-2 (SG-2). * "CONGRA TULA TIONS" Hitler congratulates mann as the World's Hart- most suc- cessful fighter pilot (301 aerial victories at that moment of meeting) on 25 August 1944. (Hoffmann) PICTURE FOR POSTERITY: Erich Hartmann and Major von Below pose togetherjust before Hartmann has discussion with Hitler. A HAPPY FIGHTER PILOT: After his 301st victory, Goring grounded Hartmann from further combat. The General of the Fighters, Adolf Galland went to bats for Hartmann and talked the Reichs-Marschal into rescinding the order. HITLER INTERROGATES HARTMANN: decoration ceremony, Hitler sat with After Hartmann and queried him about conditions at the front. BLACK D&VIL OF THE UKRAINE: The black ofHartmann's ME-109 is clearly visthis photo taken late in 1944. Note spiral on tulip-petal nose ible in propellorhub, a feature believed by Luftwaffe pilots to confuse enemy ground gunners. Also note Hart- mann's 1000-mission flight cap. 23 NOVEMBER 1944: Mertens cockpit. sits on canopy (Luftwaffe Photo) Crew chief Heinz "Bimmel" sill with Hartmann in the Hartmann had just landed after scoring 327th aerial OBERLEUTNANT AND HUNDE: Hartmann cuddles a leave. his victory. 1st. Lt. neighbor's pet while Erich home on 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS The Fuhrer had heard many 145 about stories on guerrilla activity the Eastern Front. Hartmann, "Partisans, partisans. My generals What everywhere and do tremendous damage. "When I I tell me they are your experience?" served in the Central Sector of the Eastern Front, came down twice as occupied is in a heavily wooded by partisans. Both times I sir, marked on our maps walked out and never saw area an enemy." "I see. Then perhaps my generals misinform me?" "Perhaps, mein Fuhrer, bothered us at any time.* materiel depot where the Americans, and it I I many don't know. But partisans have not know Rumania an air was bombed by that once in aircraft were stored was reported as due to partisan activity." "How do you know this, Hartmann?" was common knowledge in our Gruppe, sir." "Common knowledge? Hmmmm. Then I am more sure than ever before that a lot of my generals do not give me accurate "It information." Hitler then abruptly changed the conversation to the air war over Germany. "You have flown only on the Eastern Front, Hartmann. But what do you think about these bombing attacks on Germany by the Anglo-Americans?" "From what problem I have seen and heard, we do not approach correctly, in "Why this my opinion." not?" "Reichsmarschall Goering has ordered that bombers come— day, night, good we any time the fly good weather or visibility or not, bad." "And "In this my * mein Fuhrer. by forcing them to take that a crash that wrong, Hartmann?" opinion, yes, necessarily strument is is flyers we should a certainty. To We off convert all pilots would take too long— at save all our efforts for lose too and land many in to competent least a year. hard So I flying against the Hartmann had not heard that two fighter pilots returning by Germany had been killed by the partisans. leave in pilots un- weather so bad in- believe Amer- train from THE BLOND KNIGHT Of GERMANY 146 icans in blue-sky weather— daylight operations. Then bombing could be deterred."* The think the I Fiihrer fidgeted with his lunch as they spoke. Hartmann, you think "Tell me, training insufficient is now for fighter pilots?" know "I squadron it is insufficient, with in Russia less get young men coming than sixty hours' and only twenty hours of that combat with such slender I sir. my to total flying time, Me-109. They have to in the fly This accounts for most of our training. Eastern Front fighter losses." assumed an absent expression. Erich went on with Hitler his story. "These young boys come immediately. They come and go mein and Fiihrer, I and are shot down to us in waves like this. It think our home-front propaganda is practically is criminal, to blame." At this, Hitler sat up and showed some life. "How?" he said. "They know they are not ready to fly combat. They can barely get the Me-109 up and back safely as it is, without fighting. But they come to the front pleading fanatically, suicidally, to be allowed to go on operations." Hitler looked incredibly tired, "Hartmann, As said, the I me all war slumped you say may well be is From lost militarily. But now all sides it is too one who must decide. the time. late. people come to every day with ideas for rockets, tanks, guns, submarines, operations, offensives, withdrawals, am in his chair. true. new and with crazy inventions. Now there is I no longer any ." . The up abruptly, and Erich knew the interview an end. Hitler's handshake was slack and perfunctory. Erich left the Wolfs redoubt that twenty-fifth of August Fiihrer stood was at When . he knew he would never see Hitler alive again. * Unbeknown to Erich Hartmann, this was the course of action being urged almost daily on Goering by the embattled General of the Fighters, strikes when conwhen he was permitted Adolf Galland. His concept was to mount massive fighter ditions were to use it. favorable, a devastatingly effective tactic 300 DOWN AND DIAMONDS He flew back to Russia and spect the beautiful decoration his 147 comrades crowded around to and congratulate him yet in- The mind the again. brave gaiety of his fighting pilots could not drive from his conviction that the fatherland was disintegrating, and that final defeat could not now be averted. Orders for ten days' leave came through the following day. was to fly He back to Berlin-Gatow for an interview with General Adolf Galland and go on leave to Stuttgart from there. In the cavernous interior of the Ju-52 transport he lost himself in his him home. Usch was only hours away now. He had 301 victories. Usch would be his 302nd victory. They would marry now, and damn the war. thoughts while the big motors thundered, carrying Chapter Eleven 302ND VICTORY Looking ahead is part of the challenge of living. —Captain Eddie Rickenbacker ch's interview with General Galland at his Berlin-Gatow HQ of the Fighter land wanted to transfer Erich to the Me-262 Test This unit was combining fighter with limited jet and had fighting record in Arm Adolf was brief and to the point. Gal- Commando. flight testing of the revolutionary twin- combat operations. Erich's piloting skill undoubtedly suited him to the task Galland mind, but the Blond Knight did not wish to transfer. Explaining to Galland his deep attachment to JG-52 and his comrades, and his conviction that he was best serving his country on the Russian Front, Erich followed with his transfer to the Test Commando commander had an uncanny a direct request that be canceled. Galland instinct for detecting as a hidden mo- and Erich's request rang true. Galland vital to the Fighter Arm's morale, and he tives in his subordinates, valued comradeship as saw the merit of Erich's request. He canceled Erich's assignment and rescinded an order that had taken the Blond combat operations after he had received the Diamonds. to the jets, Knight off Galland then cut orders assigning Erich to the Fighter Home (Jagdfliegerheim) in Bad Wiessee, for rest Pilots' and recupera- tion prior to return to the Russian Front. Erich left Galland's greatly relieved that he HQ would remain with JG-52, and more eager than ever to see Usch. On the train journey from Berlin to Stuttgart, Erich made up 302nd victory 149 mind that previous marriage plans would be set aside. A year ago, when they had become officially engaged, he and Usch had his decided to wait until he was promoted to captain before getting married. last Just favor of a wedding month they that arrangement aside set at Christmas, 1944. changed by the war Now in everything had been and by Erich's receipt of the situation, Diamonds. Usch was waiting when Erich piled out of the train in Stuttgart. He embraced her and kissed her, his "Usch Christmas. men now, on this leave. to wait any more." Hartmann looked at him in surprise. we just decided last month that we would wait future Mrs. "But Erich, "I all smiles. darling, we're going to get married We're not going The face . . know. But things have changed. in my Group "But Erich, I Usch looked have many They probably won't even get I married will get home then." don't even have a dress to get married in." a little "You can buy married while We at the front— men with families. Christmas leave. priority for until ." unhappy. one, Usch. Today if you like. But we must get have the leave and the opportunity. Getting the I Diamonds has changed things, too." As they walked out to the car, Erich explained they could get married down in Bad Wiessee, at the rest and recuperation center for fighter pilots. He had been ordered there, and that meant they would not be able to get married in Weil or Stuttgart. Erich saw that Usch's face got a Traveling about inside cult little longer as he delivered this news. Germany was becoming and hazardous. Sensing her kissed her again as they sat "You will be my down three disquiet, increasingly diffi- he leaned over and in the car. hundred and second he victory," whispered. Usch's face lightened. "Is that That Usch what you're saying is "No, not just just to everyone now, Erich Hartmann? another victory?" another victory. The only one that matters. . . ." THE BLOND KNlfcHT OF GERMANY 150 Erich kissed Usch again, and he Wiessee Two for the knew she would come Bad to wedding. whirlwind days followed, which included a citizens' re- ception for Erich at the Sports Palace in Weil, then Erich was off to the Fighter Pilots' Home in Bad Wiessee. He left Usch prepar- most important day of her life. The wedding would take place on the following Saturday. Usch would ing frenziedly for the come down by train via Munich on Friday, arriving at noon. This give them time to conclude final details together. The plans would were one thing, the actual events were something Things went smoothly enough Home tral was for Erich. else. The Fighter Pilots' and rambling building, with a a comfortable banquet hall—a perfect place for the reception. large cen- Plenty of were on hand to assure a gay atmosphere. Tea dances fighter pilots were held every weekend, to which young women flocked from the surrounding areas for the attentions of the dashing young men. Manicured grounds and completed an tired fighter pilots, air- a nearby lake with sailboats for the idyllic backwater in which the war could be forgotten. Bad Wiessee was a perfect place for a honeymoon. Installing himself in the Fighter Pilots' He went organizing. Home, Erich started and arranged for the to the local courthouse marriage license and other necessary documentation. Reception arrangements were lined and an orchestra revocably volved. for committed He up— food, champagne, general catering dancing at the reception. Erich was soon to wedding, a with much expense ir- in- telephoned his father in Weil in a fever of appre- hension. "Everything here is set, Father. All the arrangements are fi- Usch has got to come." Dr. Hartmann's voice was reassuring. nalized. "Of course she'll come," he said. want you to be sure that she gets the train out of Stuttgart on Friday. Could you telephone the Luftwaffe provost there and explain to him? Perhaps he will help her get to the "Father, I railway station." "Certainly there to I will, meet her." my boy. Now don't worry about it. Just be 302nd victory 151 As Erich hung up the phone, he reflected on the solid and quiet support he had always received from his father. Usch was just as make for her to determined to get to Bad Wiessee the An trip. irresolute woman would have abandoned a journey fraught with the fronted Usch. out. The as Erich was probably difficulties that Stuttgart railway station con- had been bombed Checking into the makeshift railway timetables, Usch found she would have to get an early morning train from Kornwestheim in north Stuttgart in order to reach Bad Wiessee by noon. The Luftwaffe kindly sent a motorcycle and sidecar to collect her at 9 a.m., but by that time the dark-haired bride was well on her way to Munich, change-point for Gmiind, the closest railway station to Bad Wiessee. As the train pulled into Usch had Munich, the air-raid sirens were wailing. to run to the nearest air-raid shelter as soon as she got out of the Three hours train. in pletely disrupted her schedule for bride on her wedding eve At the Fighter with the Diamonds at ordeal. an oppressive hotel cellar com- meeting her bridegroom. For a was an unexpected and nerve-clanking it Home Pilots' his throat meanwhile, the bridegroom was undergoing a different kind of ordeal. "Elf's Night" prenuptial is a German celebrations tradition corresponding to similar other in Western nations. The bride- groom's bachelor friends concentrate on getting him drunk for the last time as a bachelor. The celebrants then hurl old pottery and china into a fireplace, and the bride and groom clean up the mess the following day as their Elf's first domestic task as man and wife. Night began rather early for Erich. Shortly before noon, Erich drove to Alfred Rossbach, resident physician Gmiind for station with Dr. the Fighter Pilots' Home. The doctor enjoyed the wartime luxury of a small car. Wreathed in smiles and bursting with anticipation, Erich strode quickly down the length of the train, looking for Usch. Disembarking passengers were soon all off the train, but Usch was not among them. As the train whistle blew for departure, Erich quickly checked the train again, compartment by compartment. Usch was not aboard. "Usch must have missed her train connection," he said. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 152 Dr. Rossbach's professional manner was soothing. "She meet will get the when we can next train, Erich. Let's find out it." The next train was due in two hours. Erich was upset. even more upset when he tried to He was The bombing call Stuttgart. had knocked out the telephone exchange and he was unable to complete the call. Dr. Rossbach rose to the professional challenge inherent in the crisis, and prescribed the proper "Let's go back to the Fighter Pilots' Home palliative. and have a drink/' said the doctor. Erich nodded his agreement and off they went, chugging back over the country roads to home, in Elf's Night began West Germany, Bad Wiessee. When they got back to the for Erich. Today a successful physician Dr. Rossbach describes the ensuing events: Night started very "Elf's early in the afternoon in my happy alcoholic mood. We Gmiind sta- in a short time we were broke proceedings briefly to drive again to the off tion to meet Usch all in a very no Usch. The dilemma champagne and cognac, and at the next train. Still was fought with large quantities of after a while things did had not seem anything like as serious as they previously. "Two more trains arrived, which we bride. The mood of the Elf's Night critical. it, room, and dutifully met, party but is backing out' And for no became even more Walter Krupinski spoke up. 'She has thought the Bubi, she still one awful better of moment Erich looked as though he believed him." At the last train, after midnight, Erich had almost given up hope, but this time the bride arrived. Usch was exhausted but happy, and they drove back to Bad Wiessee. A few fighter pilots goggled approvingly through their alcoholic haze at the shy Usch, who was into quickly taken to a nearby guesthouse. She was glad to bed and leave her beaming bridegroom to the mercy fall of the elves. Erich did not feel very strong the next morning, but he rallied to the challenge of the day, and put on made its uniform for the rounded up and way to the courthouse. Erich's comrades from wedding ceremony. Witnesses and the party his best friends were 302nd victory 153 JG-52, Gerd Barkhorn, Willi Batz and Walter Krupinski, were present, and Batz recalls the "Gerd Barkhorn and myself were Bubi's wedding Here we were, bride and groom me on and we the right as all wedding: at the head, Barkhorn to the entered the church. As church in the same formation, we were all witnesses. we left left the surprised at the portal to find a formation of Luftwaffe officers in full uniform, with swords drawn and held aloft in a saber arch. Bride and groom and then Barkhorn and myself that it all had to go through it. I can say today was a memorable and successful wedding." The simple civil ceremony climaxed a great love. Under normal German custom, Erich and Usch would have immediately gone and repeated the ceremony Protestant church in Bad Wiessee. to wait until later— much later as ment in but there was no in a church, A church it ceremony would have turned out. Erich's imprison- Russia imposed an eleven-year delay on the church wedding. A couple of hours the Fighter Pilots' later, the wedding party got under Home. Champagne flowed fighter pilots made mann's expense, and the way at freely at Dr. Hart- the most of it. A band played for dancing, but as the evening wore on, Elf's Night and the day's events began to have their effect on Erich. The Blond Knight and his lady bade their guests good night, and small adjourned to a luxurious suite prepared for them in the nearby guesthouse. While they slept, the party of reeling fighter pilots celebrated the 302nd victory far into the morning. Honeymoon days in the tranquil countryside around Bad Wiessee made the war seem incredibly remote— until the Ardennes offensive flooded Germany with new hope. Newspapers were splashed with victory headlines as the Allied forces reeled under the German Army's ities assault. Berlin Radio blared out the probabil- of a second Dunkirk, with the British and the Americans pushed into the sea together. Even the spell of the honeymoon was broken by the good news. Sugar-coated bad news had long been a steady diet in Germany. As a fighting airman, Erich knew the odds against the fatherland were long, but he heard the Ardennes news with soaring enthu- THE BLOND KNIGBT 154 He wanted siasm. a man's to hear news O tF GERMANY Such success could change like this. life. These thoughts were racing Dr. Rossbach's "This room mind as he stepped into to listen to radio reports of fresh triumphs. wonderful," said Erich. "We're going to have a big is and that means victory, in Erich's possible for it's me to have a family." Dr. Rossbach was aghast. "Erich, in times like these you a family. "No, would be wiser . . don't have to wait, Doctor. I Erich was Not now. I can have a family/' the impulsive boy, not yet master of himself. still Eight days after the wedding, when they to to wait to have ." left Bad Wiessee to return Weil, Usch was pregnant and the Ardennes was being written down German in the catalog of the families at failures. The happy reunion with home was overshadowed by Erich's imminent re- turn to the Russian Front. As the days passed he grew restive. "Erich, something is wrong. What's bothering you?" Usch already knew Erich better than he knew himself. "It's them my all Gruppe, Usch, back at the the time. I don't feel I front. I keep thinking about have any right to be here in such happiness while they are out there fighting. I'm going to go back." Usch's face fell. "But Erich, your leave know. But "I still I've got to has two weeks to run." You understand why, go back. don't you?" Tears were welling up in her eyes as Usch nodded and smiled wanly. "Do what you have A few hours He taxied the from which he had taken in his mother's wind, he felt Klemm her lift I'll help you get ready." Erich was clambering into a Storch at later, Boblingen Airport. field to do, Erich. little off so two-seater. ship to the end of the many same times in his gliders and Gunning the Storch into the beautifully to his touch. moment As Usch's lovely wave and then she was gone. He set course for Krakau, where an Me-109 would be waiting to speed him back to the front. Under his breath he face went flashing by below, there cursed the war blackly. was a to 302nd victory The newlyweds 155 did not see each other at Christmas 1944. As Erich had feared, he was unable to get away from the front, but men the married as with families returned to their units after Christmas, others were released for a brief struck lucky, but it when he New Year's leave. Erich arrived in Stuttgart New on Year's Eve, the air-raid sirens were wailing and he and Usch had to run for There was time only it. plunged The into the shelter of the pressure of war Usch looked under a on two bombs thundered Erich as for a brief fronts reached home no doubt that she was She was three months pregnant, and Hartmann home sharply to into the city of Stuttgart overhead. well enough, but there was strain. embrace before they Wegenburg Tunnel. living in the Weil under Dr. Hartmann's good at care, but that could not eliminate the larger tensions of the times. Sleep was fitful for the whole family, she told Erich. Every night they went to the cellar. The roar of the planes, the crash of barking of the flak kept them all sleepless. bombs and the Weil had not been bombed, but Boblingen and Stuttgart had both been pounded. Weil im Schonbuch was twenty miles from Stuttgart and only four miles from Boblingen but the bombers never touched the little town. These somber left tidings clouded the joy of their reunion, as they the shelter of the tunnel and headed deeply disturbed and was silent. home Usch broke in to Weil. Erich felt on his disquieting thoughts. "How long is your leave, Erich?" His face brightened. "Ten days. Ten whole days. It's going to be wonderful." Less than wonderful was the telegram that came four days later. Erich was ordered to a special instrument course at Konigsberg Neumark. The good-bye was hard this time, after only four days. Erich consoled himself with the prospect of another leave after the instrument course. The Russians crushed that dream with their offensive into Hungary. The day orders in after he arrived at Konigsberg Neumark, emergency came through reassigning Erich to JG-52. His the thick of the action down in Gruppe was Hungary, and instrument THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 156 courses were not necessary to find and shoot down the hordes of Russian aircraft involved in the offensive. In the ensuing wild days Blond Knight ran up of battle, the his score to 336 victories, far ahead of Gerd Barkhorn, his closest rival. hard in March received another urgent telegram. when Erich JG-52 was fighting still CEASE OPERATIONAL FLYING IMMEDIATELY REPORT LECHFELD FOR CONVERSION TRAINING ON ME-262 TURBO Erich was convinced as he flew back to Lechfeld that the war was irretrievably teriel lost. with which the He had seen the vast flood of men and maRed Army was going to inundate Germany. Real fear welled up in him as he thought of the Russian hordes swarming into the fatherland. Getting Usch to to somewhere safer than Stuttgart, was uppermost in his mind. The baby was coming He had soon. confided his fears to his adjutant, Captain Will Kamp, whose of Lechfeld. move safety, or at least family had a Van de home Kamp in the country at Van de Schongau, south had immediately suggested that Usch there until after the baby was born. Erich gratefully ac- cepted his adjutant's offer. After reporting at Lechfeld, Erich borrowed a Storch and flew over to Boblingen. With his father's help he managed to borrow an old truck, which he drove over to Usch's place in Rottenbuch. shirtsleeved ace of aces piled their furniture truck, and drove Usch and Kamp home in all their worldly goods to the Schongau, a charming old castle far country. Invading troops would be unlikely to go near was remote from the main The rural surroundings old castle The and belongings on the Van de out in the it, since it arteries. and sense of security conveyed would help keep Usch happy until the baby by the arrived. him subside as the Van de Kamp family made Usch welcome in her new home. Concern for her welfare had given him more bad moments than the Red Air Force as the war burned inexorably westward. When they said good-bye in the German countryside, Erich's heart was happier than when he had left the front. Things in Schongau made it seem like the happy prewar years had returned. Erich felt the anxiety that had been burning inside 302nd victory 157 Verdant peace surrounded them. For a few precious moments now they felt like carefree kids in love again, except that their Usch hearts sang with the thought of their child. Erich kissed tenderly. "Be brave, Usch. His lips And don't worry for me/' he said. would not touch hers again for ten and a half years. As dark-haired and radiant loved one disappeared from view, his him Erich turned his thoughts to the challenge waiting at Lech- feld— the revolutionary "Turbo" fighter— the jet-propelled Me-262 that he would learn to The airfield at fly in the coming weeks. Lechfeld was hardly a place to inspire confidence, The despite the presence there of the fastest fighter in the world. base was bombed until after the early every morning, and flying could not runway was patched, which usually took until start about 10:30 a.m. Flying was only possible for about an hour and a half, USAAF because at 12:30 every afternoon formations of P-38's swept in at treetop height and hosed the base down with gunfire. Mosquito fighter-bombers sometimes followed up with ten or fifteen tons of air high explosive. night, more Mosquitos filled the with the smooth but terrifying thunder of their Merlin en- gines. that The RAF birds came swooping down showed near the Lechfeld In charge of of By jet transition training air heroes, was not known as well Hartmann, Hermann Graf of his fellow pilots, sized man hero's hero. any lights base. Germany's greatest "Pritzl" to strafe amid this Lt. Col. to the shambles was one Heinz German "Pritzl" Baer. public as Erich or Adolf Galland, but in the estimation none stood above him. A dark-haired, medium- with a hawkishly handsome face, Heinz Baer was a He wore the Swords at have worn the Diamonds. to his credit at this time, Two his throat, and by hundred and four rights should victories stood and he had fought on every front where German fighters met the enemy. In the Me-262 he would bring down sixteen more British and American machines* to end the war with 220 confirmed * Lieutenant Colonel II with sixteen kills in of Experts, JV-44, victories, 120 of them aircraft of the Heinz Baer was the top-scoring the Me-262. He was the last formed by Adolf Galland. jet ace of CO. World War of the Squadron THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 158 Western Allies. Only the immortal Marseille would down more Anglo-American machines. Baer's job now was to prepare the finest pilots in the Luftwaffe to take the Me-262 into battle as a fighter. A for was being assembled stellar collection of fighter pilot talent Adolf Galland's JV-44— an later fighter all-jet unit that would be called the Squadron of Experts. Nearly every pilot selected JV-44 ne W some degree of the Knight's Cross, which was said to be the JV-44 squadron badge. Galland had fought a bitter and for exhausting battle to get the Me-262 into action as a fighter plane, over the irrational edict of Hitler that the machine was to be used as a bomber. The young in his struggle, had made many enemies including Goering and Himmler, and the bureaucfighter general racy behind the Luftwaffe General Staff had been a frustrating drag on progress. For years, Galland's strategic which history already blocked, frustrated tactical recommendations, to the stamp of genius, had been assigns and and nullified. After a series of increasingly acrimonious confrontations, he had been relieved of his command. and Goering then gave him permission Hitler unit and prove his to form a jet fighter contentions about the machine. Their expecta- tion was that Galland would be killed. This political intrigue and Galland's struggles lay outside the ken of the young Blond Knight. He was too busy battling on the Eastern Front while the drama of the Me-262 was being acted out behind the scenes. Checking out in the most fun for Erich, with the witty and aircraft was therefore irrepressible "Pritzl" al- Baer making laughter out of even the hard conditions at Lechfeld. Galland came to the base at the end of March, and Erich was ordered to report to his office. In his fourth wartime meeting with Adolf Galland, Erich found him little changed on the surface. The black-maned former General of the Fighter Arm, with his penetrating thin mustache arresting figure. and overpowering aura of personality was He greeted Erich with characteristic humor. "Hello, Erich. "So I eyes, I am now a squadron commander," he said. have heard, mein General" said Erich. pencilstill an 302nd victory 159 "I'm getting some top pilots together to take the Me-262 action as a fighter. Colonel Luetzow, Colonel Steinhoff, into Major ." Krupinski, Major Hohagen. . . Galland was glowing with enthusiasm. "I want you to join my squadron, Erich." Baer had told Erich during his Me-262 check-out that Galland would probably want him to fly The with JV-44. prospect dis- turbed Erich deeply. "What will I do in such a squadron, with all those big aces with long service and senior rank, mein General?" "Why, you'll fly with You of course. us, are the top-scoring fighter pilot of the world." "But mein General, wingman, and that I do not wish will certainly to fly again as happen if I someone else's join your squadron." Galland hardly seemed to notice Erich's lack of enthusiasm, and moment later a telephone was thrust into the young hand. He waved Erich away. The interview was over. a eral's Walking back to his quarters, Erich Experts idea. Steinhoff, Luetzow, Baer gen- pondered the Squadron of . . . they were men, much older and more experienced than all senior colonels, lieutenant colonels They were and majors and many of them had commanded He been a Fighter Wings. he. was a young captain and he had long time getting to be captain. He had the most victories, that was true, but beside Galland's experts in JV-44 ne was a httle boy of twenty-two— and he knew it. Erich kicked a piece of shattered brick out of his way as he walked along, and cursed his luck. He'd rather be back with I/JG-52 on the Eastern Front, where he felt he belonged. There he was a Gruppenkommandeur, and had some control over his fate. He wondered how he was going to get out of the Squadron of Experts. The following day an urgent Hermann Graf, Kommodore of in telegram came to Lechfeld from JG-52, which was now operating Czechoslovakia. Graf requested Erich's urgent return to com- mand of I/JG-52. The unit was under heavy combat pressure. Graf's request proved a timely intervention in Erich's dilemma. Two days later, Colonel Gordon Gollob made a fortuitous THE BLOND KNitHT OF GERMANY 160 Lechfeld. visit to He was Adolf Galland's successor as General of Arm, and an accomplished fighter ace in his own right with 150 victories. Like Erich, he wore the Diamonds, and was one of the nine Luftwaffe fighter aces to win the coveted decoration. Gollob had intense interest in new aerial armament, and wanted to see how the Me-262 training program was progressing the Fighter knew Gollob was the officer with the authority to send him back to JG-52. He managed an interview with the new General of the Fighters. "I would like to request transfer back to my Gruppe in JG-52 at Lechfeld. Erich on the Eastern Front, sir*' "Why? Don't you like the Me-262?" 'The Me-262 is fine, sir, but I have been with the men in my Gruppe ever since I went to the front. I am proud of my unit and I believe I can do more there than flying the Me-262 here." "Any other reasons?" "Because we fly so seldom in the Me-262, due to the constant bombing and strafing, I feel as if I am doing nothing to help my With JG-52 Kommodore, Colonel country. Gollob nodded. seemed "All I will be doing something Graf, has requested An positive. And my my return, sir." Austrian with a good leader's intuition, he know what was going on in right, Hartmann. You may to Erich's mind. return to your Gruppe. I'll sec that the orders are issued." Within hours, Erich had an Me-109 headed back to the Eastern Front. In his in his hands again and was later years, precipitate desire to return to JG-52, he would curse and through the grim had stayed with Galland in JV-44. But these ideas were far from his mind in the spring of 1945 as he elatedly sped away from Lechfeld. Awaiting him was a prison years he often wished that he final scries of battles that would include Mustangs and the Americans of the a USAAF. new struggle with the Chapter Twelve MUSTANGS The Mustang created records from the day of —William Green Famous ying back to his vakia, Erich found battles with American his Gruppe its inspired conception. . . in World War Fighters of the Second at . Deutsch Brod in Czechoslo- thoughts turning constantly to the earlier fighters in maneuverable and rugged bird, as Rumania. The P-51 was a fast, good or better than the Soviet YAK-9. The old model Me-ioc/s used on the Eastern Front, which JG-52 had been forced to send up against the Mustangs in Rumania the previous year, suffered by comparison with the P-51. These older Me-ioc/s, without methanol injection emergency for high-altitude power, or for escape, were at a serious disadvantage combat with the Mustangs. Some good men and many aircraft had been lost by JG-52 in the struggle to defend Ploesti and Bucharest. Now that the Ameriin cans were ranging into Czechoslovakia with their inexhaustible Mustangs, Erich felt certain he would have to fight them again mind his soon. As he flew closer to the front he reviewed in his first, fierce encounters with Orders leading to the USAAF fighters. first clash with the Americans came the disastrous Sevastopol battle and subsequent pell-mell evacuation of the Crimea. pressure fields on the Luftwaffe The USAAF to begin its after German chose this time of heavy attacks on the Ploesti oil near Bucharest. Crash orders pulled I/JG-52 out of the Eastern Front battle and assigned the formation to oil-field pro- THE BLOND K N it H T OF GERMANY 162 tection on the Rumanian Front. Erich's squadron was ordered to operate from a grass strip at Zilistea, a few minutes' flying time The date was 23 June 1944. He flew down to Rumania with his squadron, found the Zilistea strip and led his pilots in for a landing. Ground crews sent on from Ploesti. ahead to the makeshift base were waiting. Refueling of Erich's squadron had barely finished when the order came to scramble. He and the warm engine caught immediately. Bimmel was missing from the Zilistea advance party, so clambered back into was it a Schwann his bird who strange technician taxied to the Junger was flying end of the as Erich's signaled strip. all clear. Master Sergeant Carl .wingman, with Lieutenant Puis and Sergeant Wester composing the second Rotte. They in good order, closely followed all took off by the second Schwarm. The squad- JG-52 fighters while they the "Fat Dogs"— the bombers. ron's mission: protect other through to Erich's tried to get The Americans had been running their bombing operations over Rumania as if their intention was to make interception of their formations by German fighters as easy as possible. Every day the Americans came over at the same time. Between 1100 and 1300 hours, the USAAF heavies hove into view with the precision of a American well-run Kommodore, was railroad. Colonel Dieter Hrabak, JG-52's delighted by the American penchant for ac- curate timing, even if a little incredulous at standing patrols," he told Erich. "We first. "We need no maximum force to and cause them maximum can bring them with minimum effort, damage, because of the way they plan their operations." Erich could hear Hrabak's words ringing in his mind bear on as he went The German flak was over the sky. The barrage racing with his squadron toward Ploesti. banging and puffing its black bursts was massive. Boring through the tresses, in had scored on came gaggles of B-17 For- staggered horizontally and vertically in formations of ten to fifteen ships. flak all flak Ploesti Smoke a trails couple of reaching earthward showed that the kills. Four miles farther back, droning from the west, came a second huge gaggle of B-17's. Erich was on about a level with the Fortresses. altimeter. Twenty-one thousand feet. No enemy He checked fighter escort his was MUSTANGS 163 That meant he would in sight. soaring upward, climbing south into the sun in a wide curve. Erich friend, especially The when it was He drew get a shot at the bombers. One went the stick back and Karaya felt the sun was his at his back. altimeter needle spun up to 25,500 feet as he finished his climbing turn in an ideal position to attack the formation of A bombers. quick glance around Schwarms were intact. He him showed him that both his eased the stick forward to dive down on the bombers. A Mustangs suddenly tight formation of four line of vision three thousand feet below, sliced across his a target too tempting to ignore. "Attack the fighters," he said into his R/T. The Me-109's went screaming down on the Mustangs. Erich judged his bounce perfectly, closing in rapidly behind the rear ship in -the unsuspecting the two meters touch. . . shrank fighters 250 meters . . . American formation. The distance between rapidly. Three hundred meters 200 meters— "closer, Erich"— 150 meters . . . . . 100 . the white and blue star insignia was close enough to . The P-51 filled his windshield. His guns roared for two seconds. Pieces flew off Erich's wings. the American fighter and thundered against Smoke and fire billowed from the Mustang as Erich pulled left and up, the Messerschmitt easing around to his touch. More debris empennage from the disintegrating Mustang showered against the of Erich's kite. A quick glance back. A big, black and red fireball engulfed what was left of the fighter, while smoking chunks of wing and tail went tumbling earthward. Erich snapped back to business. said aloud to himself. windshield. this time. a Down came Mustang sag watch No his fires," he filling his more rapidly gun buttons. Again he saw explosion. No matter, Erich. The the P-51 and inside Erich could see the red an inferno. Emitting can fighter snap-rolled and P-51 was a goner. to the distance again, even and wobble. off "No time next Mustang was already At 100 meters he pressed engine door peeled glare of The a fell plume of black smoke, the Ameri- into an uncontrollable spin. The THE BLOND KNIGfiTot GERMANY 164 Pulling up, Erich watched his second element flame two other Mustangs ers quick succession. Looking in down he saw droning along below them, and nearby but still bomb- the two closer, other P-51's in a turn away from his position. Another perfect bounce beckoned. "Attack the fighters again/' he said on the R/T. The Blond A tangs. Schwann went sweeping American wingman Knight's the distance . . . 200 . . . 150 . . . 100 meters. A buttons and half the Mustang's wing sheared As the flash. Musdown came touch on the gun perfect attack on the stricken after the . . . with a bright off machine went spinning down, Erich could see the pilot clambering out of the cockpit. Get the leader." The American leader had spotted "Don't watch crashes, Erich. Erich, but it was too late. He pulled his P-51 around to the left in a standard rate turn. Erich thought the it was an incredibly clumsy maneuver until he saw that American pilot One pulled Karaya still carried external hard as he could and clamped fighter right as fuel The and flew right into the burst of down on P-51 rolled over to the other side, as Erich "He should have broken hard sparkled Erich tanks. inside the Mustang's left turn, then pulled his gers. Hits his brilliantly the trig- had expected, fire. "Fool!" said Erich aloud. the Mustang's left." on propeller and spangled their way back through the engine compartment and the full length of the fuselage to the Erich's get. ammo, but it looked as tail. A long burst, it though every round found Red and black smoke came billowing from finished its tar- the Mustang, and seconds later a thick, white stream of glycol added contrast to the color pattern. Diving under his foe and looking up at the riddled P-51, Erich saw a ten-foot nage. tongue of flame licking backward along the empen- The American pulled up and stalled, then went tumbling earthward. Erich watched the burning wreck for a sign that the pilot might still be alive. "Jump! Jump! For God's sake, jump!" Erich was calling out as though the American pilot could hear him. The Mustang's canopy flashed clear of the cartwheeling fighter and the pilot struggled MUSTANGS 165 clear of his coffin. A sense of relief arose in Erich as the American's chute blossomed. Erich glanced back and saw wingman Carl Junger was with him watching the crash. There was no point without any ammunition. High Mustangs were coming. Time "Back to in stooging contrails around here were showing. More to get out. home base at Roman/' he As they went barreling back said on the R/T. triumph to refuel and rearm, he in to himself. "You were lucky today, Erich. Next maybe you won't be so lucky." At Roman, Bimmel was waiting to guide him into the parking area after touchdown, all smiles as usual. Switching off, Erich pulled back the canopy and held up four fingers of his left hand for Bimmel to see. Bimmel beamed as he saw the sign for four victories. "Mustangs?" Bimmel bellowed the question, knowing Erich would be partially deaf for a few minutes. Erich nodded and Bimmel whistled a little as he set to work once more preparing was quietly talking time, One for battle. He made sure there were Karaya oil, the ship with fuel, checked the filled full belts windshield and canopy and made for all guns. He wiped the a thorough visual inspection of the fighter. Three more missions in the next few days were long on fighting but short on success. The Americans came winging in each day on bombers was their railroad timetable, so finding the ing the heavies was a rugged task. taken in the first battle The easy. Attack- beating the Mustangs had had put the American pilots on their toes. They were sharply alert, aborting Erich's attacks on the bombers. Hard dogfighting and whirlwind battles with the rugged Mustangs produced no results either way. Erich's Schwarm had some damaged aircraft, and there were hits on the enemy, but no confirmed The Mustangs were doing a solid job of protecting bombers, and a single Schwarm of Luftwaffe fighters heading kills. the bomber stream would draw whole squadrons of the for Mustangs in vigorous defense of the heavies. Erich's fifth others, with a held his mission against good interception Schwarm the Americans began like at 20,000 feet in clear skies. at 23,000 feet as top cover for the the He attackmg THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY i66 Schwarm assigned to assault the bombers. Watching the four 109's going in to attack, Erich spotted a gaggle of Mustangs plunging down on them from He above, probably from 28,000 feet or higher. hadn't seen the Mustangs, nor had anyone else in his Schwarm. They were lucky them either, or the German top cover could have been bounced and shot down. the American fighters hadn't seen The Mustangs were sand feet intent now on bouncing the Me-109's a thou- below Erich. Far beneath the bombers, Erich could two more 109's from another squadron, climbing at heading for the bombers. Behind Mustangs full German element were this climbing hard and closing in loose trail, unsuspecting Messerschmitts. Erich snapped on his see boost and fast four on the R/T. "Look back! Mustangs! Look back! Mustangs!" The climbing couldn't hear. pair Damn of friendly He them. fighters never wavered. couldn't do anything more for They them now. His job was to protect the other Schwarm, with the Mustangs about to attack. Pushing after the P-51's, taking his stick forward, Erich went lancing down them from above and behind. "Dive down and watch from below," Erich told wingman Junger. The Mustang Me-109 bore-sighted and was pouring fire into the German fighter. Three more Mustangs were lined up ready for a firing pass. "Four against one!" Erich saw red. He leader already had a lone swept in on the American four from behind at Smoke was pouring from dive speed. American leader kept the stricken maximum Me-109 as the Small pieces of the Messerschmitt were firing. being blasted clear and whipped backward by the slipstream. American .50-caliber guns were deadly, but not the 20-mm cannon on Four hundred tance came checkered P-51 as he . flashing tail . the Me-109. 300 down looked gun buttons. . . . 200 . . . 100 meters ... the in split seconds. The as big as a barn. Erich's came rushing and behind, as the P-51 . in dis- Mustang with its windshield was all on the rearmost American from below at a perfect thirty-degree attack angle. A The as devastating as blast of fire He pressed his and an explosion shook Karaya One blew up. Erich switched instantly to the third Mustang, whose pilot a MUSTANGS 167 seemed momentarily paralyzed. The Mustang took an all-guns volley of hits from Karaya One and began burning. The American kept flying, "Bubi, and now it was Erich's turn to behind you! Bubi, feel the lash. Break!" Break! Sergeant Junger's alarm rasped in his headphones. down Erich stroked the stick forward, diving and eyes bulging in their sockets, his heavy left spirals at full him hard "Back to base on your own. make I'll felt his against his power, the Blond Knight went plummeting down, the Mustangs hot on wingman. That would He helmeted head bounced against the canopy as negative G's boosted safety belt. In hard. his tail. alone," he radioed his it Junger a chance. There were too give damned many American fighters for him to deal with anyway. The horde of them strung out behind Erich now were determined that this would not escape lone Messerschmitt vengeance. their Erich looked in his mirror and quickly to each side. Mustangs were tearing of the deadly after Damn! Eight him. His negative-G break had momentarily foiled them, and he'd gained some tance as a result, but he was in a tight spot. aloud to himself, as though acting as his own head now, and "All right Erich, keep your fly. He dis- began talking guardian angel. Fly like you never flew before." The two four-ship elements and sandwiched P-51's split into Erich neatly. "Hard They were turns, Erich. he was. That made as fast as it rough. Real hard turns, or you'll have bullets in your whiskey stomach." He One around reefed Karaya game began, with blast of gunfire hard left and the the Blond Knight as the ball. from two of the Mustangs of tracer from the other side . . . . . . aerial baseball Hard right— hard left— a storm hard right— more gunfire. "You're lucky, Erich. They're not top shooters. They open too soon, too far out. You're lucky again, Erich. you know you'd be dead. Hard right . . . hard they knew what ." . . left . . . and in the blood-draining turns where the Mustangs sometimes swung close own guns. "You know you won't If fire hit them to him, he like that, Erich, but fired his they'll see THE BLOND KNlfcHT OF GERMANY 168 May them a bit. Besides, the sound of your own when they've nearly got you." The eight relentless Americans and the lone German went ratracing across the Rumanian sky, the roar of the American fifties ringing out at intervals and Erich dodging the tracer. In seconds the tracer. guns makes you he could rattle feel better feel the perspiration down running his body under his uniform. His adrenalin-charged body was pouring out sweat. His face was streaming and his vest shirt though he were as were saturated. Even Amid uniform was becoming his damp. Hauling the Messerschmitt round was an ordeal of hard steam bath, and sitting in a murderous turns in these labor. the periodic hammering American guns and the of the groaning of his overstressed Karaya One, thoughts of the past poured through Erich's head. The sports of before his mind's eye. Gave you the is "Good his boyhood swam thing you liked gymnastics, Erich. Your coordination strength to keep your hide whole. saving you now." He made another try with his guns when there was a slight chance of hitting a P-51 in one of the tight turns, but this time his guns were dead. All through the numbing turns Erich had kept way back toward slowly working his his base. gaining slightly on the Mustangs, beating He was them by actually a hair in each turn and drawing away a few yards each time. The Americans might have been losing a were staying glued to the Blond Knight's wildly. They few yards, but they tail, firing often but couldn't quite pull enough lead on their quarry to score a hit, but they were keeping going to be theirs even if up the they had to split "Keep going, Erich. Keep going. The these leeches off your flak pressure. it The kill was eight different ways. near the base will take tail." Erich swung into another grinding turn. "Damn!" The fuel warning almost out of fuel fighter even "Make but easy." if on the dash glared red. Karaya One was and he was too far from the base to land the light he dared. a fast bailout, Erich. Flip her over on her back, quick MUSTANGS He 169 released his safety belt. As he came out of the next tripped the emergency release for the canopy. went whipping away tore in the slipstream The turn, he plexiglas cover and the wind howled and around the cockpit. Coming out of the next turn, Erich sucked back on the stick of his belly. As the 109 went soaring upward and with all his strength, hauling and shot clear of the doomed aircraft. Sky, earth and trees; wheeling Mustangs and back into the it over, pit he released the stick flashed before earthward. He him in a wild kaleidoscope as his own booted feet he went tumbling pulled the D-ring. There was a rustling of silk and cord followed by the plumping sound of the opening umbrella. A bone-bruising jerk shook every joint in his body as he was jarred He upright in the parachute harness. was swinging helpless in his chute surrounded by eight angry Mustangs. For German fighter pilot fighting between soldiers, may have seemed out by pilots was unthinkable to it strafe an enemy hanging in his parachute. They regarded that not as war and this but as murder. This chivalrous tradition of place in total war, but the Luftwaffe lived code to the end. Swinging under his silk umbrella, the Blond Knight wondered if his American foes would act the same way. He thought how horrible it would be if they defenseless didn't. Was he going to die by mid-air strafing, and fall to earth as a bundle of bloody rags? A Mustang lined up on him as though entrails contracted into a tight ball. thought of Usch. few yards away. Then An for a firing pass. Erich's For one blinding instant he the American fighter went roaring past a ugly face under a white and yellow helmet glared at Erich through huge goggles that describably malevolent. made the pilot look in- The American's hand went up, there was manly wave, and the Mustang banked around.* Erich felt happy to be alive. He felt even happier as the eight Americans formed up on their leader and went streaking off to the north. As he came floating down to the good green earth he told himself again and. again, "You are lucky, Erich. You are a lucky a boy. By God, you'll have a birthday party tonight." * In general, victorious pilots of ing airmen. all nations avoided shooting at parachut- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 170 He came down a little less army truck took him back than four miles from the base, and an to his squadron. bad news. Nearly half the Gruppe's of Two down. pilots Without methanol The air at aircraft HQ was full had been shot were killed and a number of others wounded. injection, the old type Me-109 would not cut against the Mustangs, even with experienced pilots. Higher it HQ ordered an immediate halt to fighter attacks on the Americans because of these heavy become losses, and the certainty that they would worse. Erich Hartmann's Captain (now Gruppenkommandeur during Lt. Col.) Willi Batz, a long-time this period was comrade and ad- mirer of the Blond Knight. Batz recalls the struggle to defend Ploesti in these terms: "In the latter part of May we were forced into combat on two Fighters were direly needed everywhere, both against the fronts. Rumania guarding the Ploesti oil I remember well those hard times, because they not only called upon all our resources as fighting pilots, but also placed heavy demands on our Russians and in the south in American four-engined bombers. against fields ground support forces. "In defending the Ploesti own request, the head oil fields, I fighter pilot. We always made Bubi, at his always went up together, the whole Gruppe, and Bubi would take his squadron and protect the rear against the Mustangs. liantly. He accomplished his tasks bril- This type of four-motored aircraft was not familiar to us Eastern Front pilots, He but because of Bubi we suffered relatively managed to protect us, hold the Mustangs abeyance and keep them off our necks. Only because of Bubi's experience were we able to find success against the bombers. Today [1967] I do not recall how many Bubi shot down in Rumania minor losses. always in but I know he was from greater successful against the Mustangs and saved us losses." Erich reviewed these had taken place five battles with the P-51 Mustangs, which in the spring of 1944, as he droned through his air journey back to Czechoslovakia. Almost a year had passed since Rumania. By now, they would he landed at Deutsch Brod, his com- he had battled the Americans certainly be stronger. When in MUSTANGS 171 rades in I/JG-52 confirmed his apprehensions. were penetrating into Czechoslovakian American fighters Within skies regularly. a few days, the Blond Knight was again tangling with the Mustangs USAAF. of the A Russian bombing raid was reported headed for Prague. Erich got the order to scramble. cept the bombers. He Bimmel had was to take up a Schwarm to inter- everything ready and Erich was air- borne in minutes, heading for Prague and climbing hard. At 21,000 feet he leveled off and began scanning the skies for the enemy. The Russian force soon bombers, a mixed formation of lend-lease A-20 Douglas thirty Bostons and Russian twenty-five fighters, ers hove into view. Erich counted about Pe-2's. Flying top cover was a force of about YAK-n's and P-39 were at about 12,000 feet. Airacobras. The Red Erich switched on his fight- R/T. "Attack in two elements." With the sun at his back, Erich was ready to push the stick down on the enemy force. He hesitated. His him. Then from the corner of his eye he caught forward and go diving intuition pricked at sight of a line of contrails, a little higher than his element, descend- ing and closing in from the west. His first thought was that more were coming in to join the attack, but a 109/s series from the incoming strangers eliminated them flashes of silver as friends. Polished metal surfaces had long ago been done away with on German fighters. All flash the sun. Polished surfaces usually meant one thing- in Luftwaffe ships were painted. They didn't Americans. Soon the strangers could be recognized. Mustangs! The and silvery craft his wingman came in about three thousand feet below Erich as they held their altitude. circling slowly three The Mustangs began thousand feet above the Russian top cover. The Americans hadn't seen Erich above them. With the sun behind him and an altitude advantage, he was perfectly set up for a classic bounce. Russians and Americans were now obviously watching each other instead of their tails. The timing was perfect. Erich switched on his R/T. "We'll make one pass only. Down through the Mustangs, on THE BLOND KNlGHT OF GERMANY T 172 down through top cover, and the Russian down through the bombers." At power the two Me-109's went screaming down on the full upper circle of shook briefly never Mustangs. Closing like lightning, Erich's fighter with a burst of gunfire and the rearmost Mustang knew what hit him. of control, tumbling The P-51 staggered and went and smoking and dumping low turn Erich found the next Mustang rushing down out debris. In a shal- in to fill his wind- shield at point-blank range. Erich's burst thundered into the P~5i , s engine compartment and the American ship nosed up suddenly. With down a rolling-out beside Erich, out of control, chunks of as movement, the structure as its it rushed to Mustang went diving smoking heavily and shedding stricken final impact. Erich's engine was screaming and Karaya One was shuddering he tore on down at through the Russian fighter cover. No chance to fire rushing up like full throttle on the hell. He fighters. Going too squeezed blasted away from one bomber. mortal. On his fast. Now the Bostons, gun buttons and saw Hits! Hits! pieces Yes, but nothing and down through the bombers and then the brain- glazing pull-out. The awful suck of gravity on his body drew Erich into a mo- He mentary gray-out. stick to maintain his released some of the back pressure As the 109 moaned through vision. on the its pull- out curve and came up near level with the bombers, Erich checked his His wingman was tail. element? He still bailed out Timing and Erich saw the his turn, pulled out, and aircraft all What of the second down through the Allied Another Mustang came down blazing, but its pilot The second element came formation. with him. searched the sky. slashing silk billow behind the tumbling flyer. Erich joined up with the second element as all it four 109's went racing away, their camouflaged but indiscernible from above. Looking back, Erich saw an unexpected and savage consequence of his lightning attack. The Russian YAK's and Airacobras were The Russians were watching the home his attack. The suspicious Red dogfighting with the Mustangs! Americans when Erich drove pilots must have thought the Americans had attacked them. Panic MUSTANGS 173 bomber pilots. They jettisoned their bomb loads, blasting a stretch of empty countryside, then swung around on a reverse course. They were abandoning their mission. gripped the Russian The Russo-American From the milling droves dogfight continued at a furious pace. of planes Erich saw three YAK-n's come flaming down, while a Mustang went limping off to the south belching glycol. Erich shook his head with incredulity. As Allies, the Russians and the Americans seemed to have little trust in each Hartmann could not restrain a hearty belly laugh as his Me-109 nosed down and streaked for home. There would be no more battles between Erich and the Mustangs. The end of the war was imminent. The Americans seemed to know they had won the war, and were confident, other. numerous and sure of themselves. In big gaggles they they ranged over Europe at will, felt safe as pouncing on every enemy they could find. Sometimes their confidence led to diminished lance, as in the battles with Erich Today Erich hundred I my landing on 8 last May my own 1945, I first idea that when I was or could be better than any other moment. I My recognized stomach my foes. felt From bad during that crash in train- never slept in the always had a bad feeling after take-off, because at this basis of his aerial battles: "In a kind of auto-suggestion, from ing until on the writes of vigilance in the air better than eight vigi- Hartmann. I air. never had the pilot in the air flight to the instant moment, I had the feeling of absolute superiority. "I was afraid eighty per cent of fire. My my kills my dogfights were fast factor always spot unknown factors. Clouds and Today I am sure that never knew I was there before I opened in the air of the big sun were hate and love in enemy worked for planes long feeling world. and simple on that account. But one me more than any other. I found I could before my comrades— sometimes minutes before them. This was not experience or skill, but an advantage My rule for airfighting this: "THE PILOT WHO SEES THE OTHER FIRST READY HAS HALF THE VICTORY." with which I was born. In battling the Americans, Erich is Hartmann AL- redressed a technical THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 174 and experience, and downed seven of the formidable Mustangs, whose demise was confirmed. When the disadvantage by skill odds in combat were eight to one against him and the Mustangs had him cold, he triumphed over and shoot him down. He their best efforts to outfly can pursuers had not forgotten their sportsmanship, fought and did not stoop him lived to tell the tale because his Ameri- to murder. fairly, Chapter Thirteen SURRENDER We are still savages at heart, and wear our thin uniform of civilization awkwardly. —George Bernard Shaw 15 y 8 May 1945, operations by I/JG-52 were clearly an end. The German effort in and the Russian juggernaut ant Colonel Czechoslovakia had rolled on Hermann Graf and Deutsch Brod with Erich's I virtually the JG-52 Gruppe, and it coming to lost all cohesion, unopposed. Lieuten- Wing Staff was Graf who were at ordered the Blond Knight's final war operation. how Mission: Find out far the Russian spearheads were from Deutsch Brod. Karaya One's instrument panel clock read 0830 as Erich took off with a wingman, and climbing to 12,000 Using the main road feet, headed as a line of reference, Erich flew east. toward the nearby town of Briinn, the closest main center to Deutsch Brod. A smoke pall hung over Briinn like a big black mushroom. The enemy was probably already in the town. Circling around the the town. The smoke cloud, Erich could see heavy fires in Russians were either bombarding the place or had already begun occupation. On the eastern outskirts, he could see columns and vehicles ter of of Russian troops swarming toward the cen- the town. Erich stiffened in his seat. gaggle of eight YAK- 7 's flying around the He spotted a loose same smoke cloud. The Russians were below him. Intent on the blazing scene in Briinn, the Red pilots did not see Erich and his wingman on the perch, and THE BLOND KlflGHT OF GERMANY 176 they were jinking around the sky as if they were taking part in an show. air Army on the ground, one right below Erich. The Blond Knight Seemingly in a victory salute to the Red YAK- 7 pulled up into a loop flicked his wing to signal "attack" to his forward and sent Karaya stick One wingman, pushed lancing down tion just as the Russian reached the top of his loop inverted. The YAK feet. The tons and seconds strike. The came winging down range filled Erich's and hung there two hundred rapidly to He pressed his YAK home solidly into the Russian fighter. began burning and went tumbling down out of control, gushing black smoke. Exploding in a the town, the wrecked gun but- broke away in a smoothly coordinated later short burst struck Snapping over, the windshield. his into firing posi- Red fighter burned fiercely field outside and added its smoke to the thickening cloud over Briinn. The YAK- 7 Hartmann's 352nd victory. Erich was in the "See - Decide" phase of another attack on the wheeling YAKs when he caught sight of a flash in the air high above him. Twelve aircraft were flying in tight formation. More flashes from their polished surfaces left no doubt as to their identity— Mustangs. In a potential sandwich between Russians and was Erich Americans, Erich put Karaya One's nose down, and with his wing- man close beside him plunged into the sanctuary of the smoke pall. Bursting out of the smoke cloud on the west side and heading for Deutsch Brod to be sure at full throttle, Erich looked he had eluded the Mustangs. Russians were less fortunate. Once He had again the back immediately lost them, but the USAAF Air Force had mistaken each other's identity. and the Red YAKs and Mus- tangs were whirling in a savage dogfight over Briinn. Erich saw no aircraft go down, but he had no intention of going back to assess the damage the two Allies were doing to each other. The situation was not without humor. As he set Karaya One down on the improvised airstrip at Deutsch Brod, he knew he had flown down his last foe. He had downed and 91 twin-engined his last mission and shot 261 single-engined fighters, aircraft in slightly over two and a half years ILYUSHIN IL2 "STORMOVIK." Erich Hartmann's first aerial Stormovik on 5 November 1942 over Digora in the Caucasas. combat was over a 19th sortie. MIKOYAN& GUREVICH MiG-1. January 1943 and on his 41st combat Hartmann's second victory, which came on 27 sortie, was a MiG-1, over Annavir. LA VOCHKIN— GORB UNO V— G UDKO V La GG-3. On 52nd LaGG-3. his victory He was flying his sortie, 9 February 1943 and on Erich Hartmann scored his third aerial victory, this one over a DOUGLAS A-20 "BOSTON. "Hartmann's fourth victory was on lOthFebruary 1943 on his 54th sortie. POLIKARPO V U-2. U-2 above the Hartmann became an ace with his fifth victory, which was over a Kerch Peninsula. He was flying his 68th sortie. BELL 39 "AIRACOBRA. " Hartmann 15 April 1943. It was shot his seventh victory down and his his first 91st American "Airacobra" on sortie. POLIKARPOV R-5. light night bomber. It Hartmann's 8th victory was over an R-5 used by the Soviets as a was Erich's eighth victory and his 1 13th sortie. LAVOCHKIN La-5. Hartmann's 13th victory came on 7 May 1943, over a La-5 (Lavochkin dropped the LaGG designation after the LaGG-3). This was on Erich's 1 3 1 st sortie. YAKOLE V YAK- 7. 1 August 1943 on Hartmann encountered the Yak-7 a few days before the Yak- 1 On his . 244th sortie, he scored his 44th victory this one over a Yak-7. YAKOLE V YAK-1 On 6th August over Kharkov, Erich scored his 6 1 st victory. It was his 262nd sortie and the victim was a Yak-1. * £=* — > I g o _ l P£TL victories, On his 264th sortie, Hartmann scored his 64th, 65th and 66th knocking down two Pe-2s and a Yak-1, all over Kharkov. YAKOLEV YAKS. YAKOLEV YAK- 9. Hartmann encountered A the Yak-3s after January 1st of 1944. few of these Yak-92 fell to Hartmann's guns after May of 1944. NORTH AMERICAN P-51 "MUSTANG. " Hartmann matched wits with Americanflown Mustangs near Bucharest and Ploesti on June 23rd and 25th, 1944. SURRENDER 177 The end of combat. of the war was now only hours away for I/JG-52. As Karaya One's engine hissed into silence, Erich dragged back the canopy to hear bad news from Bimmel. "The Russians have been are no holes shelling the field. in the runway," said As Erich swung down from We are lucky there Bimmel. Me-109 his f° r the last time, the Bimmel made ready to refuel and rearm the fighter. Erich caught Bimmel's eye. The Blond Knight shook his head. They both knew Karaya One would never fly again. Lieutenant Colonel Graf was looking glum and strained when Erich walked into the Kommodore's tent to make his mission reever faithful port. "The Russians are already occupying Briinn, sir." Graf nodded. "I figured that," he said, "but I had to be sure. We're in a pincer here." Graf's finger pointed to the town of Strakonitz on an area map spread out before him. "American Army tank units are occupying Strakonitz, one hundred kilometers to the West. Small advanced tank units are re- ported in villages right up to the demarcation line— that's the Moldau River—between the American and Russian the Russians are in Briinn. For us, the war "Do you mean we surrender, "Yes. that is I have the order. But is zones. And over, Bubi." sir?" first, you and I must make a decision for us alone." Graf handed Erich a radio message. GRAF AND HARTMANN BOTH FLY IMMEDIATELY TO DORTMUND AND SURRENDER TO BRITISH FORCES ALL OTHER JG-52 PERSONNEL WILL SURRENDER AT DEUTSCH BROD TO SOVIET FORCES. GENERAL SEIDEMANN AIR FLEET Hermann Graf's face was twisted into a wry grin. COMMANDER He looked di- rectly at Erich. "The General doesn't want you and me to fall into Russian THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 178 He knows hands. that things will go hard with two winners of the Diamonds." Graf flicked the decoration at his throat. "You and me, Bubi, nearly five hundred and fifty Russian airdown between us. They'll probably stand us up against craft shot and shoot us on a wall "Then we sight." are going to obey General Seidemann's order?" said Erich. Graf stepped over and threw back the tent flap. "Look out there, Bubi. Over two thousand women, children and old people— relatives of wing personnel, refugees fleeing from the Russians—all of them defenseless. Do you think that I can go and jump in a 109 and fly to Dortmund, and just leave them?" "I agree can't do with you, It sir. would be wrong for us to leave. We it." "I'm glad you agree. So we forget the order, and stay with our We people. also forget Graf plunged into would try about surrendering to the Russians." details and reach Pisek in the American zone, where they would He then assigned Erich the responsi- surrender to the U.S. Army. bility of seeing that about a convoy with which they the aircraft Erich strode out on the burning up what was left field and munitions were destroyed. and of JG-52. nition for the Messerschmitts, but sian artillery would would have the the hundreds of kill packing up for their "Collect all final set about the grim business of There was if field still fuel and ammu- they took off again the Rusbore-sighted women and children move. Their safety had and a barrage who were now to come first. munitions at the armorers' hut. Break open all ammunition boxes ready to destroy munitions. Open all fuel lines of the aircraft and assemble the aircraft as closely together as posCollect sible. all fuel. We are going to destroy everything." Erich rapped out the orders and personnel sprang to comply. The 109's stood with their long noses pointed at the sky. would fighters fly They no more. Airmen slopped gasoline over the once-proud and made ready Messerschmitts would Bimmel opened to put make a JG-52 to the torch. Twenty-five hell of a bonfire. the pet-cocks on Karaya One. The area reeked SURRENDER 179 of gasoline as the twenty-five aircraft drained, on the field and drums of gasoline were upended were similarly to spill their con- to be sure that all the women and children were gone. The column of civilians was moving away, tents on the ground. Erich checked shepherded by the personnel of JG-52. The sad Erich jumped into the cockpit of Karaya One. "Keep back, Bimmel! I'm going to fire the moment had come. ammunition off into the woods." Bimmel sprang clear as Erich pressed Karaya One's gun buttons was astonished by for the last time. Sitting in the cockpit, Erich At high speed the size of the flashes from the gun muzzles. combat they never flared like that. gasoline vapor was ignited by the One was A mighty gun flash flashes. in followed as the In seconds, Karaya enveloped in flames and Erich scrambled wildly out of the cockpit. Damn! He could be burned alive on the ground! Out! Out! Bimmel stood made to dash for transfixed as the fighter exploded into fire. He the ship, but the smoldering figure of the Blond Knight burst out of the flames. Singed hair and two burned hands were Erich's souvenirs of Karaya's fiery farewell. Bimmel ran and jumped aboard a departing truck as soon as he saw his chief was unharmed. That was the last Erich saw of Bimmel.* As the fire went leaping through the dump of fuel, ammunition and aircraft, it was a hard moment for the fighter pilots of JG-52. Their beloved Me-109's were quickly engulfed in fire. Seeing their mounts burning on the ground by their own hand undermined even some of the tough guys who had ridden them into battle. Defeat had scaly wings. As Erich piled into a waiting staff car, the ammunition and cantrusted non shells began exploding, punctuated by heavier blasts as drums A pillar of smoke swirled up into the morning, and the heavy, black cloud formed an appropriate marker for the of fuel detonated. pyre of Germany's most successful Fighter last Wing. Erich took one backward glance. Karaya One was sinking to earth on * Sergeant its col- Heinz "Bimmel" Mertens rode the truck to the American lines, and afterward continued hitchhiking westward. He was at home in Kapellan within three weeks, and thus avoided Soviet captivity. THE BLOND KNI&HT OF GERMANY 180 lapsing undercarriage, and as it hit the peared behind a consuming curtain of Erich this made odd and his way to the He fire. head of the strange column. Leading straggling assemblage the Luftwaffe. ground, the fighter disap- was his last act as an shared this unusual duty with Lt. Col. Graf and Major Hartmann Grasser, had joined them with his wing Kommodore staff just officer of Hermann who of JG-210, before the end at Deutsch Brod. Grasser was a steadying professional presence at a difficult time. A wore the fronts, Grasser victories. cer, who had flown with distinction on all Oak Leaves and was credited with 103 Battle of Britain ace Trained before the war as a professional Luftwaffe offi- Grasser was for a long time adjutant to the immortal Colonel Werner "Daddy" Moelders. As Kommodore been organizing the air against German the side Red of JG-210, he had flying training of refugee Russians to take the Air Force. These Russian air units flying on the were envisioned forces fighting with the as air support for the Russian rebel German Army under General Vlasov, one- time hero of the defense of Moscow. At the end of the war, the Americans immediately turned Vlasov over to the Russians and he was hanged, taking with him in the Kremlin. his intimate knowledge of the Such was the lunacy abroad in the men world at that time. In the late afternoon the column was nearing Pisek. Erich saw a moving cautiously down the road. The American drivers stopped their vehicles when they saw the Germans streaming toward them across the open fields. Graf and Erich approached the leading tank and saluted the American officer watchfew U.S. Army tanks ing the scene from the turret. am Lieutenant Colonel Graf, Commanding Officer of Fighter Wing 52, German Air Force. This is Major Hartmann, Commanding Officer of No. 1 Group of my wing. The people with us are the "I personnel of that unit, together with German civilian refugees. We surrender to the United States Army." The American turret of his tank officer plucked a walkie-talkie from inside the and began talking to his few minutes, a truckload of American HQ in Pisek. GFs from Within a the 90th U.S. SURRENDER l8l Infantry Division pulled up beside the tanks. out and began herding the Germans into a The Americans Germans relieved the were permitted to retain their pistols field The GFs piled beside the road. of their weapons. Officers and were charged with main- taining discipline. German wristwatches were highly regarded as souvenirs by Al- and the captured personnel of JG-52 had to relinquish their captors. The Americans already had wristwatches of lied troops, theirs to own, and their this puzzled Major Hartmann Grasser. Erich heard the ultra-correct Grasser speak to a fresh-faced American second lieutenant who took his watch. "Surely you have sufficient wristwatches in a rich country like America?" The young American grinned and nodded his head. "Sure we do. But these are souvenirs. That makes them differ- ent." While the Americans were organizing the German captives, Czech civilians and a few American soldiers pounced on the Ger- man staff cars and other vehicles. Everything worth taking was and at this time, Erich lost his log- seized by the souvenir hunters, book, photo albums and other records. The fate of these items re- mains unknown. treated some of the German women to admiring them alone with their families. Erich felt a prorelief. To lose wristwatches and other personal The Americans glances, but left found sense of souvenirs was a small price to pay for the security of being in American hands. In areas of Germany already under Soviet occupation, the Russian troops against the had indulged in sexual debauchery German women hardly paralleled in modern men and their families would be Erich gave thanks that his this debauchery, as the American officers had given their times. spared word that JG-52 would not be turned over to the Soviets. What vision Erich did not know was that the U.S. 90th Infantry Di- and the U.S. 16th Armored Division working with executing unauthorized reconnaissance eastern limits imposed by thrusts their orders. Pilsen objective of the U.S. Third far it, were beyond the was the easternmost Army. In high Allied councils, Russia T f THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 182 had been selected as Czechoslovakia's liberator. Germans captured all handed over who had was a firm Soviet professional extended to cover any later and Stalin German officers What came soldiers German officers. The punishment of these goal. The extermination of fifty thousand was joshingly referred Roosevelt at the Teheran Conference, ston Churchill.* German fought against the Soviet Union, but was aimed primarily at professional men by the U.S. Army had to be east of Pilsen advancing Russians. to the This doctrine was or airmen This meant that was passed the postwar years, when be seized officers to it by Stalin and Win- between Roosevelt becoming an was not to to the horror of off as a joke perilously close to German much uncommon in the night at their active project in for professional homes and spir- ited off to years of slavery in Russian prison camps. Strangely enough, forces, was the professional it officers of the German forbidden by law to belong to any political party— including the Nazi party— who were largely innocent of political involve- ment. The idea that prisoners of war should be conveyed to the Union Soviet by the forces of another after legitimate capture Allied power, such conveyance being for the specific purpose of punishment, was a sharp departure from prior procedures. Precedents were established in P.O.W. treatment by that have in latter years brought hardship to icemen captured Erich's in a in column Asian these processes many American conflicts. of refugees and surrendering soldiers was placed chicken-wire enclosure near Schiittenhofen in western Bo- hemia. Thousands more refugees and banded German units poured into soldiers contained over ages, ranging fifty thousand from children up soldiers to old from other The and open-air camp soon civilian refugees of all men and women. Conditions soon became deplorable and sanitation problem. The The American officers by Houghton major were hard put to maintain order at times. who simply drifted Sec Closing the Ring by Winston lished a guards began to close their eyes to the large bers of "prisoners" dis- the compound, which was guarded at each end by an American tank. * serv- S. off westward, seeking to Churchill, pp. Mifflin Co., Boston, 1951). num- 373~374 (pub- SURRENDER 183 way home find their vice to the escapees, as best they could. and Many Americans gave ad- many of them with maps and and GI rations. The action of the assisted meager handouts of chocolate Americans was not sanctioned by any military order or decree, but was essentially the most practical course of humani- their attitude The tarianism open to them. gees would be better way home, than guards simply figured that the refu- off foraging for themselves and finding their on practically starving to death while they slept the ground in the Schuttenhofen pen. The situation at this eral region, camp, and in many others in the accounts for the large numbers of same gen- Germans who say today that they were prisoners of the Americans for only a few days. Most of them managed to get hitchhiking and foot-slogging. Erich Rumors went around mann and after men would his the Americans told Erich, that the entire burg, column Germany, home within a few weeks by Hartmann was not about a week be moved to the so lucky. in captivity that Hartrear. On 16 May Hermann Graf and Hartmann They were Grasser be delivered to Regens- of prisoners was to for processing. 1945, told they would be mov- ing out by truck at 4 p.m. that afternoon. For eight days in American hands they had been without food, subsisting on meager dry foodstuffs they had carried with them into captivity and on minor donations of food and chocolate by friendly individual GFs. Erich was glad to be moving out to an area where organization would be better. The Germans were loaded into trucks and driven away from the Pisek area. After a drive of a few miles, the convoy stopped, and Erich and were in a his companions were ordered meadow surrounded by Russian hensive Germans tumbled out diately began separating the German to get soldiers. down. They As the appre- of the trucks, the Russians women from imme- the men. Before the Americans could drive away, they were given a glimpse of the fate to which they had unwittingly delivered Ger- man civilian women and girls, innocent of any crime save being born in Germany. The Americans found that their Allies were quite capable as individuals of descending to the worst excesses THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 184 human of The young GFs from Keokuk and Kokomo savagery. got a good close-up of the Bear in action. The unarmed German men were lined up and a row of halfdrunk Red Army soldiers swayingly covered them with rifles and machine guns. Other Russians hurled the women and girls to the ground, and ripping the clothes from their bodies began raping them in front of their Russian comrades, the agonized and the GFs standing bug-eyed with wonder Germans, in the U.S. Army trucks. When two stripped bare, ran crying to their trucks and The Americans seemed young German girls, paralyzed by the spectacle. clawed their way up the sides in search of sanctuary, the American guards had the presence of This chivalry did not the air and shouting sit mind to haul them into the truck beds. well with the Russians. Firing wildly in at the Americans, the Russians moves toward the U.S. trucks. The GFs let in gunned their vehicles away down the road. The full indulgence removed, the Russians fell made ominous their clutches and last threat to their on the German women. A young German woman in her early thirties, wife of a sergeant and mother of a twelve-year-old girl, begged on her knees to a Russian corporal, and alternately prayed to her God, that the and spare her Soviet soldiers should take her went unanswered. Tears pouring down her appeal while the watching rels German men prayers stood with gun bar- corporal stepped back from the One contorted by a sneer. Fascist pig!" gasping. The single rifle The age. soldier he woman, his face him slammed his force. "You of the four soldiers with boot into the woman's stomach with damned of Her thrust into their bellies. The Russian his child. her cheeks, she wept out yelled. who had all The young mother rolled over killed her with a kicked her then shot through the head. Russians grabbed every The German female twelve-year-old daughter of dragged behind a tank by her mother's in sight, regardless the slain killer. woman was Other Russians joined him. Half an hour later, crying and croaking, unable to stand and completely nude, the ravaged child around the tank. She collapsed like a broken came crawling back doll. SURRENDER 185 Against the backdrop of the unspeakable scene in the once peaceful meadow, child's plight. to let a there was nothing prominent about the crippled The Germans urged their Russian guards Burp guns at the ready, the Russian let powerless them help the girl. German medic through an hour, her and his final to attend to the child. in men. Eight- and nine-year-old time by hulking Russian than hate and terrified She was dead whimperings tearing the hearts out of Erich lust. were girls soldiers. As each brute pitilessly raped time after They showed no satisfied feelings other himself amid the wildly screams and groans of the women, Erich and his stared into the muzzles of With blood on their lusts their uniforms the Russians came grinning men machine guns. to relieve the who had slaked machine gunners standing guard over the Luftwaffe men. Mothers who tried to protect in- fant daughters were clubbed senseless and dragged aside, then who had survived hundreds of air battles and many wounds broke down and wept unashamedly. Sick to heart in a way he had never known in his life, Erich fought down an overpowering impulse to retch. raped as they lay unconscious. Hard-case pilots A debauch of such violence could not maintain wrenching intensity. Gradually lusts its soul- were quenched, and some- thing akin to sanity began to settle over the scene. Sometimes smirking, sometimes stolid, occasionally even a the Russian soldiers returned the women and little girls as crestfallen, they finished Some were driven away in trucks, never to be seen again. Those who came back collapsed in the arms of their distraught husbands and fathers. The full measure of misery and degwith them. radation had been meted out to them already, but more was to come. The Germans were herded into a rough encampment in the meadow. They were allowed to go down to the lake and wash. Then a ring of thirty tanks was drawn up around the meadow and the area secured for the night. Russian soldiers came again and again among the Germans, dragging the women and what little pitiful husbands and girls from comfort they had found in the presence of their fathers. The rape went on throughout the night, THE BLOND KNICfHT l86 The women were abating only in the predawn hours. like rag dolls when of many them made When meadow, the the Russians had finished with them. of number of dawn rayed into the armor-ringed Germans did not stir. Those who awoke found themselves involved saw itself a sergeant empty wife's into their and stiffness wrist of death. artery far somber death scene that in a memories The As Erich awoke, he forever. and daughter his wife sergeant lying near had him in the quietly slashed his with an improvised dagger, disposed of his eleven-year-old daughter the artery. Life The it. shafts first a large would burn hurled back JG-52 had a hard decision to make that night, and soldiers of GERMANY (Jf same way, and then had quietly drained out of slit own his them while Erich wrist slept not away. Other men had suffocated their wives and children, and then hung themselves with improvised ropes from the sides of trucks. They chose death as the alternative to a living death. Erich began quietly talking to himself as the emotional impact of the scene bludgeoned "You must at his fighting heart. matter what happens. You must survive to hardly believe yourself, now, as you look at it. stay alive, Erich, tell You others no what you will never forget what kind of things men can do when they descend beneath the level of animals." The debauch ended A day a later just as abruptly as it had begun. Russian general arrived and took in the scene in an instant. needed no reports to know what had happened. He He issued im- mediate orders forbidding these excesses, in accordance with a new Red Army directive. The plunder and rape of eastern Germany had already become infamous around the world. The German NCOs and enlisted men sepaother officers. The women were placed in general ordered the rated from Erich and the the custody of the officers and the Russian soldiers were ordered to stay away from this area. order by coming to the kidnaping and raping a pitiless to When officers' girl, Russian soldiers violated compound during the night, and Russian punishment proved the native son as to the late enemy. this itself as SURRENDER The raped diers 187 girl was asked to identify her were picked out of a line-up. assailants. There was no court Three sol- martial, no appeal and no further question that the Russian general's orders were to be obeyed. The hands of the three soldiers were bound behind hung their backs with telephone wire, both of the Germans and of their fellow in full view The lesson and they were promptly in discipline went home with singular soldiers. force. This, too, was the Russian mentality, as Erich was to under- stand in the years that lay ahead. Russian literature arresting barbarism, and hanging became a way of full is life of such during and immediately following the 1917 Revolution. For Erich Hartmann, barely twenty-three years old as he stood in the watched the swinging corpses, was it as meadow and shocking as the rape binge. Combat flyers seldom captured anybody. Rarely did they meet an enemy face to face. On the occasions when they met an enemy pilot on the ground after having shot him down, the fight was over for both of them. Chivalry had survived in an attenuated form among combat pilots, but in the ground war brutality and subhuman conduct of all kinds was the rule. Erich's night with the infantry platoon on the line, after his escape from Russian capture, had given him an unforgettable glimpse of the savage ground war. Now this was more of sheer inhumanity of the kind of mentality created by the it, modern war. After the hanging of the three soldiers, the situation in the prison compound stabilized. women soon changed to women and girls in many play. Fear for the welfare of the a different cases Mothers went to Soviet went German emotion— shame. The single to the Russian victors for sex officers and sold their bodies for week the distraught German men began to feel the effects of starvation and to show it externally, while those German women who had changed their minds more food for their children. After a about the Russians stayed lively and began growing plump. The emotional consequence was an indescribable inner turmoil in which Erich participated to the full. Dwelling in his later years in the shadow of the Soviet colossus, even though back in Germany, Erich never forgot the trating lessons of this time. He bitter, taught his wife, Usch, the pene- realistic THE BLOND KNIQHT OF GERMANY l88 approach to a similar situation should it ever be thrust upon her by events: "Never hesitate in such circumstances. Go to the highest-ranked and do your charming with him. Flatter him and stay with will protect you against all others. In this way, you have suffer only one man and you can avoid the brutality and de- officer him. to He humanization of belonging to every man. Others take you only over the dead And he will be able to where civilization body of your protector." adds: "In the kind of age in which might well be overturned we are living, at a maniac's touch, every Western wife should be aware of this approach to dealing with people of Eastern mentality" That was the lesson that came out of Erich's anguish in the meadow. Conduct alien to everything he had been taught as a German soldier, and to the example set by his humanitarian father, was now to become part of his way of life. He thanked God in his emotional extremity, and hangings, that his as he shuddered through the rapings beloved Usch was safe in Stuttgart. Erich was only a handful of years removed from a fair-haired Korntal Hochschule boy who could not abide a bully, and that made the emotional impact of these events all the more ing. The resilience of youth had brought him through hundred combat missions in a heroic career that surpassed, but there was barely enough bounce in resoundfourteen would never be him to confront such bestiality in forced silence. Ahead of him lay ten and a half years in Russian prisons, a brutal decade that with many black memories. From would leave him the mass of recollections, good and bad, that he would carry into the evening of his life, one would stand out with ineradicable starkness and vividity— the Dantean nightmare in the meadow. Authors' Note: Events described their shocking effect in this chapter have been set down solely to show on Erich Hartmann, exposed for the first time to mass and not for the purpose of fomenting hatred of the Russian authors are in total agreement with Colonel Hartmann that the basic kindness inside all human beings, including the Russian people, sexual savagery, people. The SURRENDER 189 can arrest the endless cycle of war and peace most human in affairs. if permitted to become upper- is adamantly opposed to the Colonel Hartmann fomentation of new hatreds between peoples. Savage sexual debauchery has been a perennial concomitant of mankind's worst social aberration— war. These pathological mass misuses of the sex function evoke from the uncomprehending dividual no more profound reaction than a resigned shrug. in- Men accept that such things "always" go on and will "always" continue and thus they evade the to go on, of the human love impulse lies at clear evidence that frustration the root of the social sickness all that convulses the world. Psychotic leaders, thus aided by human ignorance or indifference, are able to manipulate the colossal energies made available by the frustrations of destitute millions. This phenomenon lies behind every irrational social movement, including both Red Communism and Black Fascismlittle-understood antithetical expressions political stemming from an identical power source. The who despots lead millions of fundamentally kind people again and again to ruin, could not prevail under modern conditions without the services of propagandists— specialists in presenting and legend Germany. truth as Ilya was incited to and fact. Goebbels this role in filled lie Nazi Ehrenburg was the Soviet Goebbels. The Red Army its excesses against the German civil population by Ehrenburg's psychotic exhortations to vengeance. The Russian troops were urged to kill the Fascists wherever they found them, and to "take the proud German women" so The aged were fair game. Even the innocent children of Germany were targets of Ehrenburg's hateful diatribes. "Never forget that every German child you see is the child of a Fascist," he ranted. The mass debauch that ensued sent a wave rolling into the Bohemian meadow where Erich Hartmann saw it break. Red Army orders eventually halted that they might forget the hard battles. these excesses, but not before Ehrenburg's evil genius its had done work. Mankind penings, has been plagued throughout and therefore its history lulled into their acceptance. by such hap- The time is at THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 190 hand when men will have to confront themselves frankly in the new knowledge. The hard-won discoveries of Freud and pioneers concerning the human psyche and character struc- light of other To ture have provided the answers. been date, these findings have evaded in their application to mass problems. Especially germane M.D., onetime German is assistant to Freud, who supervised the workers' psychoanalytic clinics in the critical years pre- The Mass Psychology ceding Hitler's advent. His 1932 book, Fascism, tury. Wilhelm Reich, the work of the late first clinical is With fied that of probably the most significant social work of this centhe psychic plague was identi- scientific psychoanalysis, throws up and sustains the Hitlers and Stalins and their propagandist lackeys. The basis of the sexual excesses inseparable from the ultimate human sickness of war, has been well identified by Reich and his followers. The psychic pestilence is internatiorfal and world-wide. No nation enjoys immunity. As this home and war abroad public. is written, social massacre at strain the integrity of the American Re- Machinations to suppress the knowledge capable of cating this pestilence public that deems and Communist work efficiently well informed. itself eradi- and beyond the ken of a A fugitive from the Fascist whose etiology he exposed, Dr. Reich died terror in a U.S. federal prison in 1957. His books and experimental jour- nals—including Mass Psychology of Fascism—were burned by the U.S. government. The authors considered story of Erich mandatory, before presenting the it Hartmann's decade in Russian jails, to establish that they write with an understanding of the psychological proc- modern dictatorships. The NKVD in Russia, Nazi Germany, and all other secret police organizations esses that sustain the SD in of a kindred order are gathering-grounds for psychopaths, wielders of illegal activities blight The is power over millions. Honest outrage and from struggling mankind. of such organizations ever to be lifted authors wish to to the oppressors, with which and all free at the existence make their is rational if and this clear their unalterable opposition sympathy men must necessary for the oppressed— a stance surely find themselves in agreement. Chapter Fourteen SOVIET PRISONER . . . . . . treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain. Provide everything necessary for them. —General George Washington's instructions to Colonel Webb concerning prisoners taken in the Battle of Trenton -Alfter conqueror, officers their introduction to the Russian soldier in his role of Erich, Hermann Graf and the rest of were taken with the womenfolk to a bistritz. Little pose was to more than let Soviet Commissars and camp bureaucracy take a firmer grip on his at Neu- a barbed-wire stockade, the camp's pur- quill-drivers Blond Knight and transit Gruppes I its captives. began the formal cataloguing of the men. Names, ranks, serial numbers and basic military data were perfunctorily recorded, but the Russians were interested in something more captives in a Luftwaffe that realistic no longer than the status of their existed. Physical examinations were given to the Germans. The Russians men from were not concerned with the health of Erich and his any humanitarian motives, but their capacity as laborers. tion. He as an evaluation of Erich's physical capacity to was a lean, physically resilient work was beyond ques- tough and strong young and highly at Neubistritz took three man of twenty-three, intelligent. Bureaucratic formalities weeks to complete, after which the Ger- mans spent several days awaiting their fate. Erich found himself musing over the evident Russian intention to make them into forced laborers. The ranting polemic of the THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 192 Communists about man by exploitation of one ning through his mind. Marx and Lenin situation lay at the root of another kept run- asserted that this vicious Now, in the capitalist world. all evil in time of triumph, these idolators of Marx and Lenin had no their other thought but to enslave their late enemies. A from capitalist the depths of the Industrial Revolution would have saluted their instinct for A cheap labor. move from Neubistritz was imminent. Erich tried to squelch some of the rumors that were sweeping the Men in suspense will speculate, imagine and even to no avail. manu- try to Rumor-mongering halted when facture a destiny for themselves. Russian guards rudely camp, but moved them out of the pen and started marching them southeast along a dusty road. Erich was assigned to load the effects of the old people in a baggage cart, veillance of and directed to ride the cart under the personal sur- an armed Red Army master sergeant. In a short time, Erich established contact with the Russian. His Noncommittal at first, he soon warmed "Where are we going?" said name was Sascha. to Erich. Erich. "Budweis." Erich knew the town. Budweis was at least sixty miles distant. make Since the Russians obviously intended that the column the journey on foot, he was grateful to be sitting up with Sascha be- hind the two horses that pulled the baggage cart. For five dusty days the dispirited prisoners trudged along, and the rumors grew more and more imaginative. The word its way through the column, but "Siberia" began whispering Budweis a Russian commissar at put an end to the rumors. He spoke soothingly to Erich, Graf and a group of their "We are not taking you to Russia. propaganda. We from there you will The Russian sar's face are taking you down That to is officers. propaganda, pure Vienna by train, and go home." smiled blandly. Erich noticed that the commis- straightened immediately had turned away. Erich was when he thought skeptical, the Germans but he could do nothing but bid the kindly Sascha good-bye and board a rackety train the SOVIET PRISONER 193 following day. Spirits brightened as the train kept rattling south- ward, but this soon changed. The and Russian guards train screeched to a halt in a country siding. went running up and down outside, shouting and gesShunted back and forth with much slamming of cou- officers ticulating. and plings was obviously jarring of the filthy coaches, the train being diverted. When they went lurching away from the siding, Erich could see that they were no longer heading for Vienna. A Russian officer gave them the story in broken German. Big trouble in Vienna. Riots, fighting, looting. tion of the city. The Erich's hopes of an early return train A dispute over occupa- was being sent instead to Budapest. was farther east than Vienna, and home began Budapest fading. closer to Russia. These were bad tidings. Hours after passing Budapest there was another more shouting and running. They were at the town jarring halt and of Sighet in the Carpathians.* Erich caught the words "plague" and "quarantine" as they were shouted back and forth between Rumanian and Russian guards. The Germans climbed out officials was dragged into a siding and the train They were herded stiffly. into another barbed-wire pen. Erich overheard enough conversation to that they would not now be going probable destination lay beyond— in Guards clad Rumanian Communists. the and armed with in exotic red trousers long, heavy beat the prisoners unmercifully at the slightest provocation. Erich had to constantly fight the bullies went too far. Two down his rage, bloody and unconscious. hour later on all fours, a He up in him and young beat the defenseless man crawled back into the barracks an whimpering wreck. Erich's hatred for bullies rage welled but the second night red-trousered sadists caught a pilot in the latrine during the night, had lived in him since boyhood. Black at the sight of the beaten tough old major from the German censed by the cowardly attack. * and Russia. The Maramures pen was run by sticks to Budapest, know that their young pilot. A paratroops was similarly in- Two other pilots from Erich's Sighet/Maramures, a Rumanian town on the border of the Ukrainian SSR, 225 miles east of Budapest. T f THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 194 group joined them. At intervals they sauntered out of the barracks toward the latrine. In the gloom of the soon loomed with their clubs, eager to sadists German and fenseless two latrine, the fall on another de- thrash him. Erich sprang out of the shadows as one of the bullies raised his club to strike one of the decoys. Smashing his and then driving blows into face felt the man He saw crumple. ing wildly in the gloom, second bully under fists with his belly into the guard's Erich all his force, pump- the paratroop major's elbows and heard the breath go hissing out of the this assault. In seconds, both would-be disciplinarians lay unconscious on the ground. Erich nodded to the paratroop major. the guards and and all. dumped them The sound music to of the bodily into the latrine, red trousers two bullies wallowing in the padded back their ears as they They picked up muck was to the barracks. Two the red-trousered guards were missing the following day. They nodded and smiled others appeared without sticks. of The as they quietly patrolled the pen. A week later, the Germans were ordered to reboard the train. Machine guns bristled now from the rackety coaches, and searchinto The filthy coaches men had been jammed on the ride to had been mounted on top of lights which Erich and Budapest, were now his several cars. bulging with heavily-armed Russian guards. Germans, including Erich, were relegated Sixty status. They were to second-class stuffed into a small freight car in almost intoler- able discomfort. The jam-packed baggage quickly became giddyingly car was as hot as a furnace. stale. The air Erich set up a basic routine for lessening the worst aspects of their sardine-can existence. One- on the wagon floor. third of the men would There was no room lie down for sixty of at a time them to lie or even sit at one time. Lying down for two hours and then standing for four, they began the ordeal of Russian confinement. Hermann Graf and Erich were two of Germany's most famous heroes and winners of the Diamonds, but the leveling effects of their confinement were in turn with sergeants irresistible. and second They lay lieutenants. down and stood up Other senior officers SOVIET PRISONER in the car 195 were Colonel Hein Heuer and Major Arthur Riele. Rank and decorations were soon forgotten in the common desire to share the floor for each long-awaited two-hour period. For two weeks they jolted eastward. Navigation necessary to find skill was un- out where they were going. They rumbled Moscow and Vologda. They were deep in Russia and going deeper. The train passed through Kirov one morning and went rattling on into a swampy area. Through cracks in the through Kiev, baggage wagon, Erich could see dense marshes and bogs. side the mire went stretching away to the horizon. On every Lurching through the vast swamp, the train was traveling on the only solid piece of earth in sight, the ground When the train and ballast began slowing down, Erich had arrived in the center of a vast peat school geography books. rails. hunch they had marsh he had read about in his He was right. Hollow-eyed and gaunt from their grueling spilled a under the out gratefully into the fresh air, ride, the Germans but when they finished They were at the end of nowhere. A few Russian soldiers, not more than a platoon, moved around a small base camp. Erich saw in an instant why the Russians needed only a handful of guards. The swamp stretched as far as the eye could see on all sides. Anyone who wanted to escape was welcome to try. The Russians told them to build shelters for themselves. Erich stretching they could see and his men hacked no cause for joy. crude dugouts from the ground and roofed them over with wood and branches. This was their only accommodation. Rounded up after dawn each morning with about a thousand infantrymen already confined in the camp, they were marched out to the swamp fringe to dig peat. Lumps of peat, used by the piles. Each morning Germans loaded the previous day's production aboard the one train that came into the swamp camp daily. Everything was done by hand. After a month of this backbreak- Russians as fuel, were stacked in enormous the ing and futile labor, Erich could feel himself cracking. Constant hard labor, lack of food and the feeling of being lost to the world slowly corroded his will. Chills of self-doubt began flowing in for the first time, made all the more desperate by the him status he THE BLOND KNIQHT OF GERMANY 196 among held He was his comrades. Fifteen hundred Germans looked by their leader to him freewill consent. them. to lead In the military there was rank, structure and discipline behind Holding a group of leadership. ness like this men together in a desolate wilder- swamp, where they were all being literally death, was a task to which Erich hardly felt equal. men when he sustain his could grind ebbing away? In this became the means feel his crisis, his camp at endurance when decades could he ability to stand the status as a Luftwaffe major swamp penal colony, all staff above— were ordered to a Gryazovets. Erich had reached the border the area— rank of major and special officers' line of How to of his deliverance. Five weeks after arrival in the officers in own worked later, he is this order was carried out. More than two visibly affected when he recalls the dismal camp at Kirov, and what happened after his departure: "The following year, Captain Werner Engelmann joined us at Gryazovets. He had been in the swamp camp at Kirov, and remained there after I left. His story was shattering. Of the fifteen hundred Germans who were sent there with me and in other batches, only about two hundred survived the first winter. The slave Russians did not feed them, and forced them to work and work until they literally starved to death." By comparison with Kirov, the officers' a high-style establishment. top German was in camp at Gryazovets was Major Hans "Assi" Hahn* one of the pilots of the Battle of Britain with JG-2 Richthofen, Gryazovets at the time of Erich Hartmann's transfer there. Hahn had been in Russian hands since 21 February 1943, when he was shot down on the Eastern Front after running up forty kills against the Red Air Force to add to his sixty-eight victories against the British in the West. In his book I Tell the Truth, at Gryazovets as "like a home Hahn describes the environment for convalescents" with some of the dank and isolated prisons in confined since his wartime capture. Hahn by comparison which he had been presents the following sketch of Gryazovets in I Tell the Truth. "The camp accommodations camp administration, the hospital and so-called convalescent *Assi Hahn died 18 The home largely consisted of barracks. December 1982. SOVIET PRISONER 197 were accommodated in old wooden houses. into two parts by a cup of real coffee for a ruble, the cafe was a coffee to induce "When . little . The stream. cafe, The camp was where you could get a The manager of who would use his was at the bridge. rather dangerous fellow, . divided war prisoners to talk.* the stream was iced over in the winter, ice-shooting by camp would take place, and in the summer, members of the camp could bathe there when they felt like it. The soccer field was in a meadow outside the barbed wire. In the camp there was a second meadow at our disposal for athletics and gymthe elite of In the spring, merely for propaganda purposes, a bowling nastics. alley the was opened. . . . When the weather was nice, promenade and on Sunday concerts were held in the so-called birchwoods, mornings the dance band played in the cafe. "One could hardly have wanted anything been for the fact that everything When better if it hadn't was merely a front." Erich arrived in this environment of relative luxury, fresh from the Kirov swamp camp, did not take it him long his morale. After brief hospitalization to ensure that to recover he had not brought typhus back with him from the swamp, he soon got his spirits up and his bounce back. easy assignment with access to hanced his A all job in the kitchen, a relatively the food he needed, further en- new outlook on life. These were the circumstances under which he was introduced to the strange and divided world of German P.O.W.'s in Russia. In- carcerated Germans, whether officers or not, were far from being a monolithic bloc of determined resisters. In this respect, the out- wardly luxurious Gryazovets was a veritable jungle. The background to the divided loyalties of many imprisoned Germans is to be found in the political make-up of pre-Hitler Germany, when there were millions of convinced Communists and the Communist party was a major factor in elections. Hitler's seizure of power grew out of the Communist threat, to which he and his Nazis were mortally opposed. After Hitler became Chancellor, the Communists were deprived of all possibility of * Presumably to report these conversations later to the from Russia. —Authors for favors or later release NKVD in return THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 198 movement was suppressed. There is no evidence that millions of Communists who lived obtaining power, and the nevertheless in pre-Hitler party or Germany—whether members not— relinquished their convictions. of Communist the Hence should not it be surprising that following the catharsis of Germany's defeat and under the stimulus of Soviet confinement, allied many Germans became with the Soviet cause. Organizations like the so-called National Committee and the German League were formed Officers' camps. Politicians like in the Russian prison Ulbricht and Pieck were members new East groups before the Russians released them to run the German government. at Stalingrad, Field Marshal von Paulus, was another notable most notorious was General von anti-Fascist, Seydlitz, with eventually confined in Novocherkassk Blond Knight had political world of his first German jail, experiences who of such surrendered and probably the whom many with Erich was years after the the bewildering prisoners of war. Establishing the differ- ences between anti-Fascists and pro-Communists, between Ger- man and masquerading pro-Soviet nationalists would have been a challenge In late 1945, stool pigeons, to a learned political scientist. the twenty-three-year-old and politically naive Hartmann had to find his way among these many factionsof them representing themselves as devoted to his welfare. Erich all Those who seemed to do best in a material sense collected in the movement, and the Antifa became the focus of the pro-Soviet forces. Hermann Graf was drawn to this faction, and tried to swing Erich to the same line of thought. Erich was disturbed to find informers and stool pigeons among his countrymen on all sides. Fellow Germans repeatedly asked him Antifa to (i.e. anti-Fascist ) embrace the Communist philosophy, and confess his crimes against the Soviet people. Even his assignment to the kitchen, though he did not know NKVD it at the time, was the opening gambit al- in him into the service of the Soviets. A heavy emotional blow came in Gryazovets when Hermann Graf succumbed to an NKVD campaign aimed at his compromise. Graf was a man Erich admired, and his last commanding officer in the Luftwaffe. As outlined in an earlier chapter, Graf was among an effort to bring SOVIET PRISONER 199 the greatest popular heroes of the war in Germany, as well as a redoubtable fighting pilot with 212 victories to his credit. As one of the nine fighter aces to win the valuable prize to the NKVD Diamonds, Hermann Graf was a because of his decorations and fame. Allegations about Graf's conduct in Russia, book I Tell pariah in Assi Hahn's made Hermann Graf something German fighter pilots, although the the Truth, have among time hero made surviving is still and alive resides in Diisseldorf. of a one- During the war, he proved himself a capable leader and a brave man, and he was widely admired as a fighter by those he led, including Erich Hart- mann. Graf kept on flying combat after he won the Diamonds, when he could have stepped down. Since Erich Hartmann served under Graf in JG-52, surrendered with him, passed into Russian confinement with him and generally knew him account of Graf's actions in Gryazovets are well, his of significance: "At the end of the war, Hermann Graf was very famous. Propaganda and publicity concerning him was spread He derneath my were He was opinion, a nice fellow and a hell of a fighter. it all, he was a man many of his a long and al- But un- of essentially simple character. had not been given the advantages of as over Germany. famous football team 'The Red Fighters/ led the ways, in all He careful education, later critics.* "After the surrender, he was stripped of his fame and reduced from one day to the next to plodding along dissatisfaction with the at menial jobs. His change was evidently something he could not control. "One day he came staying here/ and he the Soviet side. I me and said, Tve asked me if I would to told him I changed join him my mind about in switching to had no such intention. He said, 'All the old regulations are gone, and each of us must choose either the Anglo-American way or the Russian way. There any more. I have decided that Soon afterward, he wrote I want to is no Germany be on the Russian side/ to the Russian administration, offering * His critics also forget that Graf's deliberate disobedience Seidemann's order to fly to Dortmund and of General surrender to the British, was a courageous act in behalf of several thousand defenseless German civilians. T f THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 200 his services to the Soviet lower in the He was Red Union, and offering to take one rank Air Force than he had held in the Luftwaffe. soon afterward flown out of Gryazovets to a camp near Moscow. He wrote P.O.W. newspaper a laudatory article in the about the Red Air Force, and told the Russians about his experi- He ences against the Anglo-American air forces during the war. came back to Germany in 1950." Graf thus was repatriated five years that the onetime Kommodore real value to the Russian cause unlikely that Hermann Graf before Erich Hartmann, but of JG-52 contributed anything of doubtful. History will say is could tell it is the Russians anything they did not already know, or have access to through espionage. Graf's combat courage— were Nevertheless, the NKVD com- limited abilities— despite his unquestioned of doubtful utility to the Soviets. promised him, and he has dwelt in the shadows ever since in the German fighter pilot fraternity. At the time Graf confessed had endured prisoners psywar effort of the tenant colonel in his little his change of heart to Erich, Soviet compared with what lay ahead. The NKVD had hardly begun. Graf was thirties, and considerably more mature than twenty-three-year-old Erich. The two a lieu- winners of the Diamonds gave each other their word of honor that neither of them would ever surrender his decoration to the Russians. The would Brilliants be thrown away.* Erich was summoned Klingbeil of the priate a NKVD, few days Captain later to the office of a renegade German with the inappro- nickname of "Dad." Hermann Graf's Diamonds were ing on his desk. Erich was shocked. Klingbeil demanded ly- Erich's Diamonds. "I threw mine in the tain his river," stammered Erich, struggling to re- composure. Diamonds remained at home in Weil during and after the war, and he has them today. An American soldier took a paste copy from him when he surrendered in Czechoslovakia, and he had a second paste copy with him in Russia. Surrender of the Diamonds to * Erich the Hartmann's NKVD decoration. original, authentic was a symbolical act, unrelated to the monetary value of the SOVIET PRISONER "Dad" 201 Klingbeil's face darkened. Then he gloatingly held out Grafs decoration. "You should have the good nel Graf. that all He has turned his sense of your old Diamonds over Kommodore, Coloand confessed to us, he did in wartime was wrong." NKVD, Graf had not only been compromised by the had gone back on was shattering. his word honor to Erich. The of If a fighter like who to himself, then effect but also on Erich Graf could go under, Erich thought could be trusted? When he subsequently confronted Graf about breaking his word of honor, his former Kommodore was him so that henceforth they The basis they parted. rier ashamed as to must go be almost their separate ways, for Erich. Graf's defection young officers, them was movement and the NKVD made men whose and its which Graf had into new a experience was a powerful psychological weapon Erich's natural analytical ability soon led Antifa and on that strange, impenetrable, yet intangible bar- that suddenly appeared between against in agony. Erich told full use of this asset. him away from tried to draw him. The views he shared were those branded by the German German officers become tools stooges as "Fascists." They were the NKVD actually decent determined to maintain their self-respect and not of the NKVD psychopaths. Erich allied himself with this bloc of recalcitrant Germans and began his long struggle with the NKVD. rate quarters and These resistant staff officers classed as agitators were placed in sepa- by the prison administration, which consisted of Red-lining Germans under the Stalingrad warjudge Schumann. These renegades announced that Hartmann's group of agitators could have no ters, thereby cutting them off visitors in their segregated quar- from contact with the rest of the camp. Erich went over the head of mander, and demanded that ful NKVD com- be restored. His force- Schumann visiting rights to the presentation on behalf of the staff officers resulted in the NKVD German lackeys. Furthermore, the Hartmann group, Dr. Bauer, overruling their renegade the Politburo's representative in was removed following Erich's representations. These dramatic concessions seemed too good to be true. Erich got the old fighter T t THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 202 apprehensive feeling in the backside. Something was afoot. pilot's Summoned soon afterward to the mander, Erich found Captain Uvarov of years older than Erich, the Blond Knight. just like German boy typical Uvarov offered Erich "Please Erich definitely he used to get ter watch and rette in a genial NKVD mood. A com- couple He could have passed anywhere for a in appearance. Seated in a comfortable chair, a cigarette. felt said. the same feeling in the backside in the air this fellow, sat the Uvarov had blond hair and blue eyes down, Erich," he sit office of when a Russian fighter got he told himself. down, nodding his He on his now that tail. Bet- took the proffered ciga- thanks to the Russian but officer remaining deadpan. Uvarov leaned back in his chair and blew smoke in the air. "Are you satisfied and happy now that Bauer has been removed, Erich?" The Blond Knight nodded. "Then you can see how anxious we When Erich. are to get along with you, you want something done, we do our best to oblige." "That's very kind of you." "Yes, who we are kind even to our biggest enemies, those like you to work in the kitchen, so "The kitchen you can eat as you why we assigned much as you like." destroyed hundreds of our aircraft. That is job has been pleasant enough," said Erich. "Perhaps then, you would care to show some good will toward us— reciprocate the cooperation we have shown you." Erich knew Uvarov was on his tail now. He waited open him to fire. "There are a number of group who men among is a the staff officers in your are guilty of serious crimes against the Russian people. They have shot civilians, burned We know that they are secretly Here for list villages Fascists and destroyed factories. and make propaganda. of the names." down the list. Colonel Wolf, Colonel Ackermann, Colonel Van Camp, Colonel von Tempelhof. Lieutenant Colonel Prager. Majors Hahn, Ewald, Ellerbrock and others. Most Erich ran his eye SOVIET PRISONER were professional 203 soldiers, committed since boyhood conduct in war. Erich looked up from the list to honorable at Uvarov. "What do you want me to do about these men?" Uvarov took the bait. "Listen to them. Find out what they did during the war— the war crimes they committed— shooting The Russian was speaking faster and "Report everything to us about their thing. burning." civilians, looting, faster. past, their families. Every- We know we can rely on you to bring them to justice." Erich retained his deadpan. "And what happens to me if I Uvarov was sure he had do this work for you?" now. a pigeon "Why, after youVe written down back to Germany on the first train. everything for us, you will go When can we expect the first report from you, Erich?" cannot ever make such a report." Erich spoke slowly and "I quietly, in contrast to the Russian's agitated tone. Uvarov shot forward in his chair. "What do you mean you won't make was such a report?" His voice shrill. "I mean I able officers. wanton will not do what you ask. They would be killing of civilians. own gain— to become not do it, now or ever." To as try and inform on such men a stukatcha*—is unspeakably dirty. across the desk to Erich. it," he is The document was not in says that being threatened. It Otherwise sign it. know." He I my will thrust a paper written in Russian. is my language, what does it—" you certify I will Uvarov's face was * Stool pigeon. you were interrogated without routine." "Please translate the paper into all I his fury. for said. "This document "The paper honor- outraged and angry as you over Uvarov was obviously fighting down "Sign First, these are all not sign. It German and could be for now a savage mask. I will be glad to my own death for THE BLOND KNIGHT 6f GERMANY 204 "Damn you, Hartmann, I am You a Soviet officer. take my word for that." "I will not sign unless "You damned it is in German." You will work for us or by God I guarantee that you'll never see Germany again." Uvarov hammered the last sentence home by pounding on the desk with his Fascist. fist. Erich took a on final puff and crushed his cigarette it out on the ashtray beside the Russian's hand. "You can do what you about sending like able to do anything about that. informer for the But I me home. am I not absolutely refuse to be an NKVD under any circumstances." Uvarov' s face was purple with rage and the veins bulged in his neck. "Damned You damned Fascist! day in the kitchen detail easy work and detail, that'll canceled. is Hartmann! Your Fascist, a full belly. You'll go to You holi- No more hear that! work on the road-building sweat the insolence out of you." "Is that all?" "No, by God, cer. that's not You've insulted me, a Soviet all. For that you get ten days in the bunker. Take him away!" Erich stood up and extended "I am his hands as Ten though you hear? for handcuffs. ready." As the guards prodded him out the door with marveled inwardly at his own pulse to spring across the desk powering. Somehow he had and the rewards were their rifles ability to control himself. and throttle The Uvarov had been he im- over- kept cool and in the process his will had conquered Uvarov. There were no medals this, days, offi- different. You were for victories like paid off with time in the bunker. The filthy hole to which he was encounter with and six feet NKVD Nine consigned was his feet long, four feet high, the stone-walled chamber had heat of any kind. in discipline. now A a dirt floor first wide and no shaft about three inches in diameter located one corner of the bunker and screened with wire mesh, pro- vided the dungeon's total resources of light and ventilation. Be- SOVIET PRISONER 20$ neath the shaft stood an open can that served as a latrine. There was no furniture. Each morning, guards shoved six hundred grams of bread, two liters of water and five grams of sugar into the hellhole. Sleeping on the ground, half-frozen, completely alone, able to tell night from day only by staring up the shaft, Erich knew the bunker was designed to break down the fiercest will. Isolation, stench and could melt resolution. Starvation could sap defiance. With- chill out a focus for his thoughts, he might just as well be on the moon. He turned his mind to Usch. He ran through his memories of their childhood love and adored movie films. He recalled every detail of their like old trysts in the theater in Weil, their days in dancing class, and the happy unions and tender partings of the war days. games trying whether to decide He played mental baby was a boy or a their The child would be born by now. Perhaps it had fair —or maybe the child would be another dark-haired, like Usch. He knew he would like that. From the time of his at Gryazovets, Erich first had him indescribable became like a friendly gave a re- hair, like girl. him beautiful girl confinement in the wretched bunker deep feeling of contact with Usch that inner comfort. ether, The blackness around through whose medium he him could reach out and find his beloved as though time and space did not Something exist. him came inside alive when he turned his thoughts to Usch in these black dungeons, as though he had plugged in a tiny but powerful dynamo that energized his being. The it love and harmony of his in confinement, eventually sick home life, and his ability to focus on proved stronger than the worst that men could do to him. The ordeal of the first years in Soviet custody Hartmann is summarized in on 30 October 1947, and subsequently smuggled out of Russia by a returning prisoner of war. A few such smuggled letters provided Usch Hart- a letter written by Erich mann to his wife with the only uncensored contact she had with Erich during the ten and a half years of his imprisonment. Official tions communica- remained limited to twenty-five words on a postcard— during the times when the NKVD did not capriciously reduce the per- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 206 mitted words to five or ten. This 1947 letter tells its own story of an imprisoned man's bitterness and frustration. "Camp 7150 "Oct 30, 1947 "My darlingest Uschmutti: "Tomorrow another transport leaves here— maybe this letter will reach you. Now, shortly, my story: Taken prisoner by the Americans on 8 May 1945, and delivered to the Russians on 14 May. On 25 May 1945 we started out from Budweis, via Vienna, Budapest, the Carpathians, the Ukraine, Kiev, Moscow to Kirov. In a camp in a swamp we met 1,000 infantrymen and approximately 100 officers, all in pretty bad shape, poor food and miserable treatment. In Kirov, I became the leader of the officers' group. Graf was with The infantrymen were worked of five them me and was in charge of so hard that they died like flies, all. two to a day. "On August 17 we raised the devil with the Russian administration were loaded and brought to this camp, now called Camp 71 50, 60 km south of Vologda. I am still in this officers' camp. Accommodations are in large barracks— one room for each 400 men, with narrow plank beds, the whole arrangement revolting. I am sure that cattle in Germany are better housed than we are. But of course, one gets used to it, even sanitary facilities that are like 1,000 years ago. Medical attention is passable. Food consists of 600 grams of bread, 30 grams of butter (about one ounce), 40 grams of sugar, with two thin soups each day (total of about a pint), and about three-quarters of a and all officers pint of porridge. "One is eternally hungry. buckets being provided for is no bathtub, only small wooden People living under such conditions There this. appear as you might expect, and dystrophy is common. I personally which helps me see this life through. "The camp is administered by the NKVD, the Russian secret police, aided by renegade Germans. Among these is a German military judge who is mightily afraid of the Russians, but does his share organizationwise. The others are mostly political swine and traitors and similar types in charge of the camps. They call themselves the 'Antifa.' Looked at closer they are former SS medics, Hitler Youth leaders, SA commanders and similar hash. I don't know what the Russians mean to do seem to assimilate food well, with them, yesterday they betrayed us and tomorrow they will change flags again. Such people make imprisonment hell for us. "Until about nine months ago, there was continual strong political on had pressure brought to bear us. Every suspect was put to a political upon us all. Political attitudes test, and that, of course, its work and general treatment of governed the kind of clothing, type appearance, one could From their given to the individual prisoner. lay. prisoners the various guess where the sympathies of reaction SOVIET PRISONER was shocked to "I 207 for once, see, the German with officer corps no profession nor rank where one could say they had all resisted successfully. Colonels steal, turn traitor, denounce their comrades and play informers for the NKVD. I can tell you that its I pants down. There is have learned to look at people through strong glasses to see if there is anything behind the make-up— the outer facade. "We three its get a change of laundry every one or two months, once every months Now summer. in winter covers this dirty country with white coat, and bedbugs and hundreds of thousands. their much I fleas are for exterior circumstances. "As a German TEPOU our constant companions in do not exaggerate [Hero] Now I am their numbers. So to myself. personally rather well treated by the Russians, probably because of the consistency of my behavior. Once NKVD board— a sort of trial— but I was rewas brought before an leased because I immediately asked to be shot. They did not accept. The other methods they use I will not describe. You have probably already heard about them. "I did not know anybody when I came to this camp, only Graf was with me. He soon went over to the 'Antifa' and then wanted to influence me constantly. In this area I was entirely ignorant, and let them lead me astray during the first months, up to a point, but I soon saw through their game and went my own way as a 'fascist/ "Thank God my own countrymen now keep away from me. Informers turned me in to the NKVD, and I suddenly faced this trial in the middle of the night. I was accused of being an archfascist, a saboteur and the instigator of a resistance movement. Here were the Middle Ages with their inquisition methods, but I did not fail to make the proper answers. I was able to refute all accusations, until the Russians themselves recognized what my countrymen had tried to do to me, and the then punished the informers. After this, I was left in I NKVD relative peace. "Graf was sent to Moscow and follows a downward path there. The year we were forced to work—even the staff officers. Work here is the worst type of slavery imaginable, worse, I believe, than in Roman times. Can you conceive of six or eight civilized, educated human beings first strapped into a harness and Roadwork is all done with —and all work is to meet pulling a wagon, like horses before a plow? spades, heavy woodcutting with hand-axes specified quotas or food was immediately reduced. "At the end of 1945, a sudden command was issued that staff officers thereafter were only permitted to volunteer for work. Since not born to work for the Russians, I I felt I was ceased work immediately. Threats, exhortations and flattering inducements were "I that time only new all turned down. end of 1948, and also at exerted by the West, and if there is no do not count on being freed if A new pressure is until the war would make the outlook black for counting on getting home with the assistance of the West. war. us. We are THE BLOND K N FG H T O F GERMANY r 208 is the only thing we have to look forward to in here. The shows what it is in that respect— 25 words per month. An increase from 10 words per month is true progress, in their eyes, and "Mail NKVD everything else here reflects the effects of this mentality. A thin layer poor and in rags— their idea of the freest and happiest country. One could write a book on the effects of their bom stupidity mingled with their inferiority complexes. "So here you have a picture of how I am. I can only hope that the living well, the rest and that we can see each other again and lie one says in soldier-talk, 'stand it, fight through it, and courage!' Without combat there is no conquest and no bonus without price, and nothing is given to us for free. "We'll meet again, embrace again, and together we'll soar. In my thoughts I have my arms about you. Your last of it passes quickly, in each other's arms. Until then, Erich." Eight more years of persuasion and pressure would pass before the yoke was lifted from the stout shoulders of Erich Hartmann. Chapter Fifteen PERSUASION AND PRESSURE Only those who have endured Soviet imprisonment opinions concerning are entitled to valid it. —Major Hartmann Grasser Soviet prisoner, 1945-1949 ^STou Fascist pig! dirty pletely in our power? Don't you know that you Germans are in the eyes of the world? like with Don't you know that you are com- Here you— anything. No one in Russia cares dirt we can do anything we what happens to you, Hart- mann." The NKVD officer thrust his sallow "What would you say if we brought face close against Erich's. to you— right in here on a tray— the heads of your wife and baby son?" Erich felt the blood drain from his face. His stomach felt like The NKVD man pressed his helpless victim. "Do you know that we could go right to Stuttgart, with our East German operatives, and spirit your wife right out of Germany? Remember how we reached Trotsky? And General Miller in Paris? We can reach out anywhere in the world to anyone we want." The Russian officer's blood-chilling threat was hitting Erich litjelly. erally where he lived. In the solitary-confinement bunkers in total darkness, there was but one focus for his mind, one anchor in the black ocean that threatened to engulf The bright visions he could conjure in Zuffenhausen, or in the friendly him body and soul— Usch. up of her in her parents' Hartmann home hold at bay the forces of disintegration. home in Weil, could » f THE BLOND RNIGTT OF GERMANY 210 As long he knew Usch was safe at home, that as with her and his loved ones, Erich NKVD attacks the open threat to his on his felt he could somehow endure mind. The paralyzing main source was well all of strength had fear to he felt at this be concealed. He NKVD took a grip on himself and looked squarely back at the officer. "You can do anything you wish. You have the power. I know that. But I am not going to work for you against my country and my prison comrades." Erich maintained a steady gaze, right into the Russian's eyes. For a minute, his antagonist returned his gaze. Then the man slammed his fist into the palm of his hand. "Damn you, Hartmann! Damn you to hell! Why work NKVD won't you for us?" Scenes such as this were enacted in half a dozen different Soviet prisons, with eighteen or twenty different NKVD persecutors ad- vancing their proposals in every conceivable form. Inducements ranged from savage blackmail threats to a contract to join the East German NO. If his friends, associates Air Force. Erich's answer was always the and superior officers find same— him today a how much that quality and how it stood between stubborn man, they might well remember was called upon him and his German NKVD. in his brutal decade, ruin as a self-respecting individual. prisoners in Russia were under the control of the This army of ex-servicemen became an army of and many were starved to death in the Russians could have put the skilled and technicians dulged The itself to work initial German in rebuilding Russia, in Soviet interests NKVD but the its launched a psywar program more in- captives. effective than direct physical vengeance. Pressure to break the will of the individual never diminished. with hopelessness, suspicion, NKVD lies filled and cal torture in the pattern of the German prisoner was the primary weapon Insufficient food crumbling the ego, and the by The engineers, artisans instead in the irrational degradation of secret police later slaves, postwar period. in the prison environment ceaseless propaganda. Physi- Gestapo was strictly forbidden Soviet regulations as characteristic of capitalist exploiters. Com- PERSUASION AND PRESSURE 211 promise of the individual and destruction of his integrity by NKVD methods proved more potent in serving Soviet ends. Erich learned of the Russian prohibition against beating oners not long after his capture, when digested the mass of data concerning matched up staff its captives that At Gryazovets, the gested at the surrender. pris- the Russian bureaucracy NKVD had it in- intelligence name with Karaya One and the dreaded He was summoned to an interview with They were poring over his dossier when he Erich's Black Devil of the South. NKVD two officers. was escorted into the room. One NKVD man was doggedly shaking his head. am sure we have the wrong man," he said in Russian. "I NKVD The second officer looked downcast. The first Russian walked over to Erich and pointed at his flaxen thatch. "Look," said the Russian to golden He hair. his companion, "he has blond hair, cannot be the Black Devil." Erich knew enough Russian to realize they were discussing his hair.* The second NKVD man banged his hand down on the dossier. "There is no use your denying, Hartmann, that you shot down three hundred and fifty-two aircraft on the Russian Front. We have that documented here." Erich nodded noncommittally. They had addressed him in Deutsch. "Then that would make you the top-scoring fighter pilot of Ger- many!" The Russian was excited now. Erich shook his head. "No," he said, "I am not the most successful German fighter pilot." "But no other pilot in any air force shot down such a large num- ber of aircraft," the Russian argued. Erich smiled indulgently, like a schoolmaster elucidating a mathematical fact "Well, * shot On only Russian aircraft, with a few American Western Front, we had a pilot named Marwho shot down over one hundred and fifty British aircraft. machines. seille I for a dull student. down Hartmann is the a natural linguist. Russian, French and German. He speaks very good English as well as THE BLOND KNfGHT^F GERMANY 212 In our air force, one British-flown aircraft was considered the equal of three Russian-flown machines. So The I am not the leading pilot." Russians exploded into puzzled and angry exchanges be- tween themselves. They did not like Erich sat deadpan until they settled again. The came thick and fast their down and came at him as they pumped him for flyers. questions downgrading of this confirmation of the material in the dossier. Finally, Erich could see no further point eventually know masquerade. These bloodhounds would in his the facts no matter what he told them. "Will you admit that you were the Black Devil?" "That is what was called on the Russian radio during the war," I said Erich. "But your hair is golden," protested one of the have always had "I months my hair," fair was painted with aircraft Erich. said NKVD men. "For a couple of a black pattern me the name Black Devil at that time." The second NKVD man settled back behind and your people gave tapped the "A the desk and dossier. on your head during the war. price government would pay it The Russian looked I would be rich if our today." Erich up and tered Luftwaffe uniform. He down in his soiled and bat- looked like anything but the formi- dable Black Devil, but there he was, the most feared fighter pilot on the Eastern Front, a common prisoner. Further grilling over a period of several hours also revealed that Erich had flown the Me-262 tional aircraft of the war. experience with the out flights less felt The jet, jet fighter, the most advanced opera- The Blond Knight made which had been confined under Heinz Baer at Lechfeld. The that this was special knowledge that little to a few check- NKVD would be of his neverthe- useful. Russians had captured several Me-262's intact, and had taken them to Russia for evaluation. Operating these advanced aircraft was a serious problem without the background acquired by the Germans. Erich was accordingly interrogated at length concerning the jet fighter, several Devil had been established. days after his identity as the Black PERSUASION AND PRESSURE 213 Erich was able to offer only limited assistance to the even in telling them had only flown that he it about ten times. His image The Russians seemed nence combat as a engineer. The Russian as a explained as the most world nevertheless worked against successful fighter pilot in the him. He he knew about the Me-262. all NKVD, to automatically assume that pilot also implied expertise as his emi- an aeronautical lengthy interview became steadily more acrimonious officer kept pressing him for information he did not possess. "Major Hartmann, you are holding things back. not tell The and us all we wish this made to know? You must NKVD bullying Erich's Why will tell us." lieutenant was not an air force problem all the you more officer, He exasperating. tried again. "I can that. you can I watch tell how to start the aircraft. I have already told you you how to fly it, and the things the pilot must you tell the sensitivity of the throttles. for, in particular this, too. What I cannot in the aircraft or precisely tell how you is I have told the kind of parts that are they work. I am a pilot and not an engineer." The Russian obviously unconvinced. scowled, reading questions about jet aircraft was obvious that he had no to Erich like a real Blond Knight accordingly been from a questionnaire, and knowledge of man who might He had aviation. He it looked have been raised on a farm. The tried explaining his situation in terms comprehensible to a peasant. "With a jet aircraft, I am couples a horse to a wagon. like a farmer. He is You know how able to do that, the combination. But he does not know what and a farmer also to drive goes on inside the horse." With a shout of fury the and slashed Erich triggered Erich's across the NKVD lieutenant sprang to his feet across the face with his cane. temper into a savage cloud of the Russian's head. conscious. stinging red. He blow leaped room, and picking up a chair, hurled himself at his tor- mentor. Swinging the chair in a high down on The The arc, he brought officer collapsed it crashing on the floor un- THE BLOND KNICHT 214 His anger slaked, Erich him beat room and terrogation the NKVD cold fear gripping him. felt for sure, or shoot OWs in Camp JG52: Gryazovets, near Vologda north of 1 Oct. 1944 Lt. Colonel Hermann Graf assumed command ofJG52. Graf, a famous Moscow, were allowed to have an orchestra. This moto, taken in 1946, shows the political indoctrina- football player before the war, where the communist scored 212 aerial victories and ion school in the background, loctrine was force-fed to all POWs. is the 9th ranking ace of WWII. POW IN RUSSIA: fife HAHN: "Assi" wrote a book "I SPEAK THE TRUTH" about his experiences in tivity. Russian cap- Hahn passed away on 18 Dec. 1982. is the last photo Erich send home to his family. to The photo was taken November 1948 camp HA UPTMANNHANS "ASSI" This Hartmann was allowed in at Tscherepowez. K in a prison RUSSIANS FREE LUFTWAFFE ACE PILOT WHO CLAIMED 348 VICTORIES Friedland Camp, West Germany, Friday. Erich Hartmann, the German fighter pilot who claimed to have destroyed 348 enemy planes during the 1939-45 war, arrived here to-night after 10 years as a Russian captive. He arrived with 38 other German ex-prisoners, including a woman who was an SS signals assistant. Hartmann, who is FREE AT LAST?: foot on 15 October 1955, Hartmann Germany once set more, this time at Herlesh- His first half-curious, half-elated expression was captured by a photographer as he stepped from ausen. the train. 33, is a walking skeleton. As he left the bus which brought him from the frontier railway station he was cheered by other Germans who had been imprisoned in Russia. His former fellow-prisoners shook his hand, embraced him and him chocolate and first offered The cigarettes. words he said were some : " There are We of us left in Russia. must not rest until they are with us." But before reporters could talk to Hartmann, his comrades took him away to rest. When he had left a group of returned prisoners said that he had been " a light in the darkness to us." They said that his brave stand against the Russians and all forms of coercion, and his unbroken will, had helped them to hold out during the past 10 years. ENCOURAGED COMRADES He had refused to work for the Russians, and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. Consequently he was often put into beaten and solitary confinement, picked on for every possible reason. " We are telling you this because we feel that he is too modest to tell you himself." said ex-Lt.-Col. Otto " For example, at the end Heuer. of the war he could nave flown into American or British hands, but he preferred to stay with his men and be captured by the Russians." Heuer said that in Schachti Camp, where Hartmann was kept at fellow Hartmann's period. prisoners went on strike until he was released from one of his spells of solitary confinement. On another occasion Hartmann went on hunger strike, sayine he would rather die than be a prisoner. He was forcibly Reuter. ted. one "AM I REALL Y AND FINALL Y FREE?": A few minutes after arriving at Herleshausen, Erich Hartmann began to realize he wasfinallyfree ofthe Bear's At the urging of the reception committee, he remove his worn and threadbare prison clothing in order to be fitted with a new suit and (The National Observer) shoes. — grasp. starts to This article appeared in a London paper, j October 21, 1955. M HOME, )tt MUTTI!: On October WE'LL BUILD A Hartmann Mother at her THERE!: Erich and Ursula Hartmann home by his me. His father had passed away in formally welcomed NEW HOME RIGHT OVER 17, 1955, after years in Russian prison camps, Erich 1952. survey Weil im Schdnbuch from the balcony of his parents home shortly after his homecoming in October 1955. EMACIATED YET ARDENT: A 'aunt Erich Hartmann cuddles up o his wife Usch the day after he eached homefrom his lOVi years of ncarceration in Russia. HAPPY FAMILY MAN: Erich Hartmann's crew chief in JG52, was Heinz "Bimmell" Mertens, shown here on December 13th, 1967 in his home at Kapellen/Erft near Dusseldorf Toliver) FOUR TOP ACES— 1104 AERIAL VICTORIES: Numbers 1, 2, 3, and number 26 of the top aces ofthe worldposed at Furstendeldbruck in the sum- mer of 1957: Major Gerhard Barkhorn, tories), (301 aerial vic- Major E rich Hartmann, (352) Colonel Johannes Steinhoff (176) and Major Gunther Rail (275). Steinhoff and Rail rose to Lt. both General rank and commanded man Air Force the new Ger- in later years. Barkhorn rose to Major General and Hartmann to the rank of colonel. POST- WAR TRAINEES: Co-author Toliver, on 13 March 1956 assigned to the USAF'20th Fighter Wing stationed in England, in went on to visits three ex-Luftwaffe aces who were undergoing refresher training at RAF Valley Gerhard Barkhorn, with Herbert Wehnelt and Walter Krupinski. Krupinskiand Wehnelt (USAF— 20th Wing) become Lt. Generals and Barkhorn a Major General. Wales. Left is BIOGRAPHER MEETS BIOGRAPHEE: 25 June 1956 at Suttgart/Echterdingen, Author Ray Toliver met with Heinz Baer (left) and Erich Hartmann. At right is USAF "Pritzl" Colonel Farley Peebles of McQueeny, Texas. Baer lost his life on 28 April, 1957 crash ofa light airplane. in the He was the 8 th rankingfighter ace ofthe world, with 220 aerial victories ofwhich 16 were whileflying the Me-262jet. THE SHAKHTY REVOLT and whispered aide 241 in the officer's ear. The aide looked hard at Erich as the sergeant related the scene in front of the barracks. The aide set down a he was holding, knocked gently on the file commandant's door and disappeared inside. Snatches of agitated talk were audible through the closed door. Erich knew he was mentality. He in for another confrontation with the consoled himself with the thought that there wasn't gimmick they could employ, a thing they could say, a dialectic had not already encountered. They thought that he lines, and had no human real contact. swung open and the aide beckoned The commandant was He had a face erased, but hell in straight The commandant's door to Erich. a colonel, a roly-poly administrative type. from which kindness had not been completely he regarded Erich "What in NKVD is stonily. about refusing to work, Hartmann?" this "Under the Geneva Convention, I am a staff officer and—" "For you, the Geneva Convention does not You have been exist. convicted of war crimes. I've seen your dossier. Soviet justice has mercifully left you alive. You should be glad to work, glad to be alive." "Your country won the war, Colonel—more than I am an officer in the criminal of any kind. Your own Lenin keeps prisoners of war longer than five years ago. defeated country, and not a air force of a six says that months any country that is imperialist and degenerate." The colonel's eyebrows shot "You know Lenin's "Yes, I do. I writings, have read all up in surprise. Hartmann?" of them. that puts prisoners of war to work The colonel stood up quickly. is He also says that a nation a parasite He had on those prisoners." obviously had enough Lenin for one day. "You refuse to work?" "I refuse absolutely. I insist that appointed to investigate these ask that you shoot will not work." me down. an international tribunal be camp I not, then I wish to be executed, because I conditions. If THE BLOND KNIGHT 242 The colonel pressed a button "This prisoner to work. The Take him his desk, and the aide appeared. armed guard came in of his office. at Shakhty house at the camp inside the wire. GERMANY confinement until he agrees colonel watched impassively as an The bunker F to the bunker." and escorted Erich out over on to be put in solitary is <5 was a small room in the gates. Access to it As the blackness of rear of the guard- was through a heavy door solitary him once more, Erich fought down confinement closed the desperate tide that welled up inside him. Darkness and solitude gave only one solace, By concentrating on Weil im Schonbuch to happy days in which he was surrounded by decency and love. Visions of home put power in his will, and as the days rolled by he knew that somehow he would survive here as he had in all the other bunkers into which he had been cast. The other German "war criminals" who had come to Shakhty the chance to focus his thoughts on Usch. he could project himself back her, with Erich were in a black The mood to after a day of slavery in the mines. labor was murderously hard, the working conditions and equipment let life, primitive, and food was barely alone a day's work. When sufficient to sustain they crawled back exhausted into their dismal mass dormitory, Erich was missing. The ser- geant of the guard told them that the Blond Knight was in the bunker. News of Erich's punishment acted The prisoners' already ragged tempers ing and yelling in the barracks like gasoline flared on a campfire. out of control. Shout- brought out the guards to subdue the prisoners. There were mutterings about a revolt. As the days went by and Erich failed to return to the barracks, the rage of the prisoners— intensified by the backbreaking slavery in the mines —began building up to flash point. At the end of the fifth day, on their way back to barracks from the mines, prisoners trudging past the guardhouse saw the bunker door ajar. Inside they could see Erich feet tied to a chair. Two Hartmann, his hands and bulky guards stood over him, and while one pulled Erich's head back by the hair and forced open mouth, the other crammed food down his throat. his This degrading THE SHAKHTY REVOLT 243 spectacle applied the ultimate strain to the bone-weary but al- ready fuming prisoners. The when assembly sounded an angry roar hundred throats. Before any of them really knew following morning bellowed from a what they were doing, the infuriated prisoners burst out of the A barracks and overpowered their guards. ing across the prison yard to the colonel's eyes bulged with terror as his office and the scruffy mob went wild commandant's office. stream- The Russian door crashed open mob seized him roughly. Sitting tied to the chair in black silence, Erich's first inkling of came when he heard a heavy pounding at the bunker door. Someone yelled, "We'll get you out," and an ax blade smashed a hole in the door. More ax blows opened a hole large enough for a hand. A scrawny arm came through and tripped the the revolt lock. Two sweating and excited prisoners burst into the bunker, breathing heavily and hardly able to "We've got the whole camp It's staff talk. under guard. You're free, Bubi. a revolt." They cut his bonds, and Erich stood up, rubbing circulation into his legs and arms. The daylight hurt prisoners led him out of the bunker. passed the bunker guard, a thrust into the cell by his eyes. The two other As they stepped outside they Rumanian who was being They tied the guard prisoner, two grinning P.O.W.'s. quickly to the chair. "See how you like the bunker," one of them yelled. Erich heard the heavy door slam shut, and quietly gave thanks amid the tumult that he was When free of the black hole. Erich got back to the commandant's an excited office, horde of prisoners was milling around outside the building. colonel and two majors made up the command camp, together with sixteen guards and man officers, Colonel structure of the Two Ger- Prager, had a lady doctor. Wolf and Lieutenant Colonel played a large role in raising the revolt, but the prisoners looked to Erich for leadership now. They had done He was The A this for all him. expected to take charge. colonel commandant and his two majors and the lady THE BLOND KNIGJHT 244 doctor looked somewhat surprised. have their had lives revolted. "Let them The snuffed out by the They were all go. They man OtF GERMANY obviously expected to whom for the prisoners to be disappointed. Don't hurt any of them in any way/' said Erich. prisoners in the flush of their triumph had released other They had also caught and beaten a few of the pigeons. The ruckus inside the camp and the freeing of prisoners, Russians. hated stool Russian the had brought part prisoners Shakhty town to the prison to get out of the gates, An "Come A woman to the hesitant populace of Russian prisoners managed with a babushka around her head Germans from Come out now Come out!" out! from here. The the but the Germans hesitated. elderly Russian beckoned gates. of outside. while you can. We'll take you away move couple of eager P.O.W.'s started to slowly toward the Erich sprinted across from the commandant's office and gates. headed them off, standing in front of them with his hands raised. Nobody among us goes outside." The prisoners were a little shaken. you go out, you're escaping. The Russians have regulaabout that, and guns. They'll shoot you down like dogs be- "Stop! Stay here! "Why, "If tions fore Bubi, why?" you get five miles." "What do we do "We're going then? Tell us what to do." to stay right here in the camp," said Erich firmly. "Someone must come when we contact higher headquarters. We'll tell them what's wrong, maybe get things put right or made better. But dont go out or they'll kill you." Muttering among the P.O.W/s now replaced the shouting. They stopped their movement toward the gates. The freedom beckoning beyond the gates was enough to torment a man to death. They teetered on the knife-edge of shouted, "Erich's right. They'll decision. kill us if A voice back in the we go out." mob The rumble agreement that followed told Erich he had prevented a of catas- trophe. "Come call his A on," he said, "we'll get the commandant and make him headquarters." roar of approval went up from the prisoners, and they all THE SHAKHTY REVOLT shambled toward the commandant's off jammed with 245 prisoners who Erich shouldered his way The office. place was hadn't joined the rush for the gates. in. The commandant was brought to his own office, incredulity and fat face. The Russian officer sat down at his alarm written on his desk with stubble-chinned scarecrows on either side of him, and him was facing Hartmann the grin. "Colonel," Erich said, "please your higher headquarters and The colonel shrugged. "They'll down. We want you to call them what has gone on here." send soldiers and probably shoot sit tell the lot of you," he said. The blue and level. "I don't think so, Colonel. Now eyes were cool what has happened. Where is please call them and tell them higher headquarters located?" "Rostov," said the colonel, as he picked up the phone. He asked to be put through to the commanding general. Erich heard the general come on the line with a querying "Yes?" commandant at Camp Shakhty. The German prisoners have made a revolution here—" "General, this A the is squawk on the other end of the phone was followed by torrent of questions. Finally the commandant managed a to get in another word. "No, General, officers The and prisoner staff. am I . . . being held by the prisoners with all my No, we have not been harmed, General. Hartmann wishes Erich took the phone. His to speak with you." command of Russian was useful in such encounters. "General, am we have exceedingly bad conditions at this camp. responsible mainly for this revolt, because a criminal and a slave. Our I refuse to work I as barracks arrangements are vile and the Underground labor twelve hours a day under such conditions will kill these men." "What do you want me to do about it?" The general's voice food is not fit for pigs. was harsh. "We want a spect this place, tions. government man from Moscow and an international tribunal to come and in- to see these condi- We want something done to improve things." THE BLOND KNI&HT OF GERMANY 246 "We'll see about that, Hartmann. Meantime sonally responsible if hold you per- I commandant and anything happens to the the other personnel." Erich grinned at his comrades. "Don't worry about them, General. We're Erich set down "Something will happen very soon," he said. Within twenty minutes A company armed gentlemen here." the phone and turned to his revolutionaries. a tumult of voices and the roar of revving truck engines heralded the arrival of the gates. all with tommy at the two hundred men of soldiers, perhaps to the teeth Red Army camp all told, guns and with cannons mounted on their trucks, pulled up outside the entrance. The tumult came from the Russian civil populace, who booed, hissed and hurled abuse at the Red soldiers— their own people. "Why do you hold these men here?" "Let them go home to their own people. They have families." all "Shame!" Sentimentally, the Russian people were on the side of the prisoners, and they let the Red Army know it. Erich and his comrades ambled out and watched the fantry getting ready for action. Walking within Red in- hailing distance of the gate, Erich shouted at the nervous-looking Russian troops as they rallied their firepower to face the scruffy scarecrows behind the wire. "You Russian soldiers!" Erich shouted. the wire because We we were once "We fought a war under orders, and we on are soldiers, just like lost. this side of you are today. We are soldier prisoners." The Russian civilians turned into a cheering section for the Blond Knight, egging him on. "Maybe you Russian too," Erich shouted. He fall soldiers will "Why do you do took a few steps forward and open, exposing his chest. one day be inside this now let his a fence, to other soldiers?" shabby prison jacket He spread his arms wide. "Shoot!" he yelled. "I can't shoot back." The later arrival of a general the nervous infantrymen from Rostov was the signal for to ease through the gates in squads and THE SHAKHTY REVOLT 247 herd the Germans back into their barracks. down the revolt by suspending all and the rumor was put about that On Moscow. toward Erich Russians cooled Shakhty for at five days, commissar was coming from a made the sixth day, the Russians their intentions clear. Guards with came rifles commandant's back at his desk in full to escort Erich outside the wire to the Wolf and Lieutenant Colonel from their barracks. The commandant was Colonel office. Prager were also taken "We work The uniform. not be having any more revolts here, Hartmann," he will said. "Why have you sent for me, Colonel?" "The think you have too main here. You They people have investigated your revolution. political much influence over the other prisoners to are not only a Fascist and re- a ringleader, but also a revolutionary." "Then what do you propose to do?" said Erich. "We this association are going to break up We know who the leaders camps. You and Wolf and Prager other prisoners. to other between you and the are and they'll be sent are going to Novocher- kassk as part of that plan." "What about the conditions "Some at Novocherkassk are going to You won't Hartmann. But you see anything in fact, because you are going into the bunker again for this revolution. hell into camp, and the tribunal?" things are going to be changed, won't be here to see them. ment in this Your comrades here be shot, and them. That's all, will as punish- be told that you you'll disappear. That'll put the fear of Hartmann." Five of the ensuing nine months at Novocherkassk jail Erich spent in the bunker, during which time his mail was again interrupted. In response to his incessant requests, the Russians him appear before of his case. colonels A a tribunal specially set general up for consideration came down from Moscow, and with and two majors plus a secretary, the let four kangaroo proceeding was convened. In the back and forth of his confrontation with the tribunal, THE BLOND KNIGHT 6 F GERMANY 248 the Russians returned again and again to something that Erich considered a side issue at best. They accused him of having incited the populace of Shakhty to revolt against the Soviet govern- civilian ment. This unfounded contention clearly obsessed the tribunal. Erich could see that he was involved in another vain deadlock with the irrational summed up his Communist His mentality. experiences with the Soviet judicial machinery: "Your government convicted me of war crimes without any credible evidence, in fact, with evidence that in country would be considered insupportable. Geneva Convention and becoming savages. me sentence statement final You all any truly civilized You have flouted the men from other decencies that prevent try to strip me of the humblest rights and to twenty-five years as a slave for things that never happened. "When resist I am investigate— I and ask only for an international tribunal to know about not afraid that the world should anything you claim ment for have done—you put I months and let me in solitary confine- the word go about that I am dead. In the world today, your government talks and seeks peace, but with thousand or more German sixty to end the last war. soldiers in your power, Someday you may be treated the you refuse same way, Soviet officers. "You are at and plexes war with the world through your stupidity. volt at Shakhty. them face Perhaps you are right about the what is com- civil re- never said a word to the Russian people to raise against their government, but today. will I inferiority in their hearts. You should be Were someday it afraid of your up own be done with you and what you all of you to them, I will have to would be free people, for one day they call justice. God help you then." The tribunal shuffled uneasily under this quiet rebuke, but when he was done they looked at each other and nodded. The verdict had been reached— long before the tribunal ever sat in its mockery of fair play. "Twenty-five years' hard labor. Clearly a ternational bourgeoisie." member of the in- THE SHAKHTY REVOLT Erich's ordeal had its 249 counterpart in what his wife and parents endured in Germany. His mother made a series of pathetically desperate attempts to secure Erich's release by writing to high Soviet officials. Part of her letter to Generalissimo Stalin duced here to convey something of the heartbreak felt is repro- by a mother under such conditions. To 28 April 1951 Generalissimus Stalin Excellency: Excuse me and please understand, Generalissimo Stalin, if I here- with address myself, a mother of a prisoner of war, to you the highest personage of the USSR. For your information I beg to state the following: My son, Erich Hartmann, born on 19 April 1922 in Weissach near Stuttgart, Wiirttemberg, Germany, active member of the air forces (fighter), was serving at the end of the war in 1945 near Prague, when he was taken prisoner by the Americans. Fourteen days thereafter, he was, together with 7,000 men, put under Russian mandate and has been in Russian captivity since then. My have been condemned, in December 1949, to 25 he had been a staff officer. I cannot believe this condemnation, for my son has, like every Russian, done nothing but his duty of soldier toward his country, did he not? This cannot, I believe, be considered as a punishable crime and entail such a severe condemnation. son is said to years of forced labor because Excellency: In this time of the many endeavors for world peace, I appeal to your sense of justice and beg you to relieve a mother from her and so consuming grief, a mother who yearns toward her son and has not received any notice from him since December 1949. I beg you to have pity and to set my son, prisoner of war Erich Hartmann, free, and to have him sent back to his native country, i.e. to Weil im Schonbuch, Kreis Boblingen, Wiirttemberg, Germany. Should you have any objections against such a measure, I herewith assure you that my son, when again at home, will never again participate in activities against you and your nation, but will quite peacefully and in entire neutrality lead his further life. I promise you this, and as his mother I shall cause him to do so. I shall exact this promise from my son immediately after his return, and I know that he keeps unconditionally what he promises. Therefore please be kind and hear my supplications. And let six years of captivity be penance enough. Hoping very much not to meet with hard-heartedness, I am, Exgreatest cellency, Yours very truly, Mrs. Elisabeth Hartmann THE BLOND KNI Kirovograd Sevastopol Kolomea Crimea-Chersonaise Crimea-Chersonaise 7 ) THE BLOND KNI&HT OF GERMANY ^94 Time Date Victory 222-223 May 8 1944 Type A/C Location (After second victory on this date, Hartmann landed, took two mechanics into the fuselage of his Me- 109 and 224-225 226-228 229-231 232-237 238-239 240—243 244-250 251-256 257-261 262-266 267-290 291-301 302-306 3°7 8 308-309 310-311 312-313 3 1 4~3 1 5 8 21 29 1 3 2 Jun. 1944 3 4 Jun. 1944 Jun. 1944 5 Jun. 1944 6 Jun. 1944 4 Aug. 1944 Oct. 1944 12 l 5 16 21 23 24 5 * Roman Roman YAK-9 Bobruisk Mustangs Ploesti Airacobra Baranov YAK- Briinn 27 22 35 2 Airacobra (Overtook Nowotny) Jun. 1944 2 5 Jun. to 23 Aug. 1944 2 Crimea Peninsula La-7 24 317-322 2 3 3-3 2 7 328-331 333~34 6 347-35 1 fled the 1944 1944 1944 Jun. 1944 1 316 33 2 May May May 6 4 8 Nov. Nov. Nov. Nov. Nov. Nov. Nov. Nov. Nov. 1944 1944 1944 1944 1944 1944 1944 1944 1944 Feb. 1945 Feb. to 27 Feb. 1945 Apr. 1945 May 1945 0830—0920 TYPES OF AIRPLANES FLOWN BY ACE ERICH HARTMANN DURING WORLD WAR Bucher Bu-131 Focke-Wulf FW-44 Klemm KL-35 Arado AR-66 Focke-Wulf FW-58 Focke-Wulf FW-56 Heinkel He-46 Junkers W-34 Heinkel He-51 Heinkel He-50 MODELS FLOWN IN II Junkers F-13 Junkers W-33 Bucher Bu-133 North American NAA-64 Arado AR-96 Fiesler Fi-153 Klemm KL-25 Morane C-445 Messerschmitt Bf-108 Messerschmitt Me-iogB, C, D, E, F, Messerschmitt Me- 262 (jet) G&K COMBAT: Messerschmitt Me-i09G-7, G-10, G-14, G-16 and Me-109 K--4. * and Hartmann's 352nd victory was scored on his 825th actual combat dogfight. his 1405th combat mission APPENDIX 295 MOVEMENTS OF 1 Ftotti JUNE VI KlU nr 1 Jan. 1943 ooldatskaja 5 Jan. Jan. 1943 Jan. 1943 Mineralny „ A Armaviv Rostow 22 Jan. 1943 Feb. 1943 8 -7 - Feb. 1943 14 Mar. 1943 Kertsch A _ Apr. rp 1 1 Aug. 1943 3 Aug. 1943 Aug. 1943 l 9 Aug. 1943 2 4 Aug. 1943 2 Sep. 1943 6 12 Aug. 1943 l 13 Aug. 1943 18 Aug. 1943 M 6 Sep. 8 Sep. 1943 8 Sep. 1943 1943 24 Sep. 1943 16 Oct. 1943 19 Oct. 194? 5 -7 -8 - 23 - 15 - 18 - 21 25 27 Nov. 1943- 6 Jan. 1944 - 9 Jan. 1944 - 22 Feb. 1944 - 6 Mar. 1944- 7 Mar. 1944- 11 Mar. 1944 — 23 Mar. 1944- 24 Mar. 1944- 26 Mar. 1944- 5 6 Apr. 1944- 9 - 10 May 1944 — 17 May 1944 - 31 1 7 10 23 7 8 12 24 10 Apr. 1944 11 18 *The above list necessary that each of miles away. IV laman T T Ugnm Orel Iwanowka Warwarowka Charkow-Rogan Charkow-Sud Peretschepino Kutanikowo Makejewka Se P- Stalino-Nord J 943 Sep. 1943 Sep. 1943 Grischino Sep. 1943 Dnjepropetrowsk Oct. 1943 Oct. 1943 Nowo Boguslaw Saparoshje Malaja Beresowka bei Alexandria Oct. 1042 Kirovvograd Jan. 1944 Jan. 1944 Feb. 1944 Mar. 1944 Mar. 1944 Mar. 1944 Mar. 1944 Mar. 1944 Mar. 1944 Apr. 1944 Apostolovo Malaja Wiski A Pr Roman - May May May x 944 1944 1944 1944 indicates located daily. Since III Wody Sep. 1943 23 Aug. 1943 1 1 Nikolajew Mar. 1943- 31 Mar. 1943 1 l/~\f*sitir\n t (UVUKUfl • 1943- 2 July 1943 T T - 13 July July 1943 1943 3 T M July 1943 19 July 1943 20 July 1943 - 2 Aug. 1943 Aug. 1943 - 5 Aug- *943 3 1 1944* (~Z.£>nortiJ*ihinsi1 UJJI llKAXt, Dec. 1942 11 Jan. list DURING THE PERIOD 1 Airnolri tX.ll j V 1 -4 1943 - 10 1943 - 22 III/JG-52 1942 TO DEC. Nowo Uman Krasnoje Kalinowky Winniza Ost Proskurow Kamenez Podolsk Kolomea Lemberg Krim Chersonaise Zarnesti Roman where the headquarters of III/JG-52 was Gruppe was composed them of three squadrons generally operate from other air bases it was some Those outlying bases are not listed herein. Study of the above Gruppe must have had an almost insurmountable prob- indicates that III THE BLOND KNIOHT OF GERMANY 296 PERSONAL DATA ERICH ALFRED HARTMANN Name: Date of Birth: 19 April 1922 Place of Birth: Weissach/Wiirttemberg Father s name: Alfred Erich Hartmann 1 October 1 894 Father's birth date: Father's place of birth: Ehingen/Wurttemberg Mothers maiden name: Elisabeth Wilhelmine Machtholf Mother s birth date: 16 February 1897 Mothers place of birth: Ehingen/Wurttemberg Date of father's and mother's marriage: 2 September 1920 Place: Stuttgart/Wurttemberg Date of Erich's marriage to Ursula Paetsch: 10 September 1944 Place of marriage: Bad Wiessee Chronological formal education: April 1928-April 1932: Grade school in Weil im Schonbuch April 1932-April 1936: High School Gymnasium in Boblingen April 1932-April 1937: April NPEA Gymnasium 1937-September 1940: Gymnasium in Rottweil at Korntal Would Education major: have studied medicine but war intervened 10th Flying Regiment, Neukuhren, East Prussia (near Konigsberg), 1 October 1940 Chronological list of stations: First station 1 1 1 1 and date of reporting: October 1940: 10th Flying Regiment, Neukuhren March 1941 Air War School, LKS2, Berlin-Gatow : November 1941 Pre-fighter School 2, Lachon Speyerdorf March 1942: Fighter School 2, Zerbst-Anhalt : 20 August 1942: Fighter Supply Group, East Gleiwitz/Oberschleissen 10 October 1942: 7/III/JG-52, Eastern Front 2 September 1943: CO. 9 Sqdn. III/JG-52, Eastern Front 1 October 1944: CO. 6 Sqdn. II/JG-52, Eastern Front November 1944: CO. I Gruppe/}G-$2 Eastern Front 1 March 1945: transition to Me-262 Jets at Lechfeld 25 March 1945: CO. I Gruppe/JG-52 Date commissioned as an officer: 1 March 1942 1 y Place commissioned: Fighter School lem in logistics in trying to supplied. It is almost incomprehensible to the authors that All bases listed are in the t Place names are taken is as Zerbst keep three constantly moving operational units able to account for itself as well as ing 2, it III Gruppe was did. Ukraine and the Caucasus regions, from III/JG-52 daily history and the —Authors used in that document. spell- APPENDIX Chronological 297 list of dates of promotion: First Lieutenant: 1 July 1944 September 1944 Major: 8 May 1945 Captain: 1 Lieutenant Colonel: 12 December i960 Colonel: 26 July 1967 awarded Knight's Cross: 29 October 1943 awarded Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves: 2 Date Date Date Date March 1944 awarded Knight's Cross, Oak Leaves and Swords: 4 July 1944 awarded Knight's Cross, Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds: 25 July 1944 TOPS AND FIRSTS-LUFTWAFFE, WORLD WAR Top Ace of World War II — Major Erich Hartmann: 352 victories Top Night Fighter Ace of World War II — Major Heinz Schnaufer: II 121 vic- tories Top German Ace ders: of Spanish Civil War (1937-1938) -Lt. Werner Moel- 14 victories World War II — Major Hannes Gentzen First German Ace First Ace to exceed Baron Manfred von Richthofen's World 80 — Capt. Werner Moelders First to score 1 of 00 victories — Major Werner Moelders 1 5 : War I score of July 1941 — Major Gordon Gollob: 29 August 1942 First to score 200 victories — Capt. Hermann Graf: 2 October 1942 First to score 250 victories — Major Walter Nowotny 14 October 1943 First to score 300 victories — Capt. Erich Hartmann: 24 August 1944 First to score 350 victories — Major Erich Hartmann: 4 April 1945 Most kills scored in a single day — Major Emil Lang: 1 8 victories Most kills on a single mission (sortie) — Major Erich Rudorffer: 6 November First to score 1 50 victories : 1943; 13 victories Most kills scored on the Western (includes Mediterranean) Front — Capt. Hans Joachim Marseille: 158 victories Most kills scored on the Russian Front — Major Erich Hartmann: 352 victories Best kill average per sortie flown (day fighters) — Lt. Guenther Scheel: 70 missions; 71 victories (Russian Front) Top fighter ace for number Lt. Herbert Rollwage: Top Jet down (day fighters) — 102 victories (44 of them four-motor bombers) four-engine killer (night fighters) tories Top of four-engine aircraft shot — Major Heinz Schnaufer: 121 vic- (mostly four-engine) Ace of World War II (Me-262) — Major Heinz Bar: 16 victories ) THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 2 98 THE GERMAN LUFTWAFFE FIGHTER ACES-TOP AWARDS Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds Germany's Highest Military Award Knight's Cross with Name Victories Galland, Adolph Graf, 104 Gordon Gollob, 150 212 Hermann Hartmann, Erich Lent, Helmut Marseille, Hans Joachim 352 110 Werner 101 Nowotny, Walter Schnaufer, Heinz 258 Molders, (102 at night) 158 121 (plus 14 in Spain) (all at night) Oak Leaves and Swords The Second Highest Award Knight's Cross with Name Victories Heinz Barkhorn, Gerhard 220 Bar, jet) 301 Wilhelm Batz, (16 with Me-2 62 237 112 Biihlingen, Kurt Anton Herrmann, Hajo 192 Herbert 130 (includes 7 in Spain 267 108 102 (includes 5 in Spain) Hackl, Ihlefeld, Kittcl, 9 Otto Liitzow, Giinther Mayer, Egon Miincheberg, Joachim 135 123 Oesau, Walter Ostermann, 206 Josef 101 Guenther 275 174 222 Priller, Reinert, Ernst Wilhelm Rudorffer, Erich Sayn- Wittgenstein, Prinz Schroer, Werner Steinbatz, Leopold Steinhoff, Johannes Streib, (includes 8 in Spain) 102 Hans Philipp, Rail, Max Helmut Werner Wilcke, Wolf-Dietrich Wurmheller, Josef Zu 83 (night) 114 99 176 66 162 102 (night) APPENDIX 299 Nur Der Oberbeffehlshaber der Luftwaffe FUhrungsslab fUr den Pienstgebrauch Ic Errch Hartmann Weil im Bchonbuch Kreis Boblirtgen W vtbg Die Kriegsflugzeuge der Feindmdchte Teil II: Sowjet-Union Bilder und Leistungen (einschlieftlich brit u. Stand: 1. USA. Lieferungen) 10. 1943 /X Etng.: C5. 52 -5.0EZ.1943 Sonderousgabe des „Frontnachrichtenblaftes der Luftwaffe" B/l/43 PILOTS' HANDBOOK OF ENEMY STRENGTH. Title page of a on the Soviet Front. A clever idea, the booklet contained photographs of the Soviet, British and American aircraft most likely to be encountered in aerial combat. Detail drawings showing the locations of armament and the vulnerable fuel tanks of several types of aircraft are on the following pages. handbook issued to Erich Hartmann in January 1944I THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 300 1L-2 = HJI-2 Schlachtflugzeug STORMOVIK. The bomber. The Soviet answer to f the Luftwaffe's Stuka divebomber and the Ilyushin 11-2 was a highly effective close-support its vitals made it an almost imdown. Hartmann's first victory was an 11-2 on 5 November 1942. Between then and 7 May 1945 Hartmann shot down sixty-two 11-2 aircraft, this score including a number of the later models of the 11-2 extremely heavy armor-plating protection of possible aircraft to shoot known in some circles as the II-7. APPENDIX 301 Bell P-39 Airacobra Jagdeinsitzer AIRACOBRA. Over Russia the call "Airacobra! "was heard and dreaded by the Luftwaffe because the Soviets equipped a group made up of the best fighter aces with this type of aircraft. They painted their airplanes red and called themselves "Red Guards," and they accounted well for themselves. Hartmann, as is evident from his No. 1 logbook, shot down eighteen Airacobras up to 29 October 1943. He estimates another fifteen fell victim before the war ended. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY SB-2 CB-2 isb-2m-ioo) Kampf- und Aufklarungsflugzeu/ approxhnately SB-, Hartmann shot down twin-engine aircraft. of Soviet forty of this type APPENDIX 3°3 MIG-3 «= MHr-3 Jagdeinsitzer MIG-3. The Mikoyan-Gurevich-designed Soviet fighter used early in Hartmann scored only one victory over the MIG-3, coming on 27 January 1943 over Amavir in the Caucasus. The MIG-i the war against Germany. that and MIG-3 aircraft were being phased out at this time. Hartmann's log and it was his second it lacked maneu- the JG-52 records show his kill as a "MIG-i or MIG-3" and victory of the war. Maximum speed was about 390 mph, but verability necessary for aerial combat. The Luftwaffe Groups based on P-38s in the vicinity the Eastern front met American-flown of Bucharest and Ploesti. a top speed of ^about 350 mph and lacking maneuverseemed doomed from the beginning. However, it could absorb a tremendous amount of lead; German bullets made toothpicks out of its Siberian birch frame fuselage and it still kept flying. Hartmann shot down 49 LAGG-3. With ability, this fighter twenty-seven Lagg-3 aircraft in 1943. APPENDIX LAGG-3 305 JIAIT-3 Jagdeinsitzer THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY LA-5 = JIA-5 1 f Jagdeinsitzer Kraftstoffmengen: Bihalter 7 - zusammen 2^ 20 mm je200 77<7 Z 5.20 J MH Schufi LAGG-5 SOVIET FIGHTER. ™ pdots cap and the Russian with a radical engine as " top capabilities. Lagg- 5 ^ X "'t re at nsp Hartmam had gre 413 ™ph. buzz along between y them 7 of managed to down seventy at 1 ^TBS ^ for these aircraft, December but APPENDIX 307 Hawker Hurricane II C Jagdeinsitzer Merkunft: GB. BRITISH HAWKER HURRICANE. tered lend-lease, Russian-flown aircraft. cane, but since his second logbook guess shot how many down fell before his guns. in every sortie. is Hartmann occasionally encoun- He remembers combating still missing he The JG-52 records is the Hurri- reluctant to say or do not identify types THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 3o8 JAK-1 HK-1 Jagdeinsitzer YAK-i. f Russia's Alexander S. Yakovlev designed the "Krasavec" (Beauty) YAK-i T plywood and metal known early in the war as the I-26. A YAK-7 and was merely an improved YAK-i. fighter, model was known as the HartIt was almost impossible to tell the difference between the two models. mann shot down sixteen YAK-i and YAK-7 aircraft between 1 August and 9 August 1943, according to his first logbook. later APPENDIX 309 Super-marine Spitfire V Jagdflugzeug Herkunft: GB. SPITFIRE. Britain's famous Again, Erich refuses to guess and fighter how many fell was another lend-lease opponent. victim to his attack but he shrugs says "only a few." Russia received approximately 14,700 lend-lease air- which over 6,000 were from Great Britain. Of the total, 8,200 were numbers delivered, they included P-39 Airacobra, Spitfire, Hurricane, Curtiss P-40, North American P-51 "Mustangs." craft of fighters and, in order of THREE VIEWS OF THE BF-109G-5 (ME-109G). Hartmann flew combat in various models of the 109, including Bf-iogG-7, G-10, G-14, G-16, andMEiogK-4. In addition, he has flown the Bf-109-B, C, D, E, all F of his and, of course, all the G models listed above. GLOSSARY A-20: Twin-engined Douglas attack bomber, also known as a "Boston" or "Havoc." Abort: Turn back from an aerial mission before completion. Acceptable Loss: Combat judged not to be high for loss results ob- tained; within the limits of affordable cost. Combat: Combat between or among hostile on wing of an airplane. Airacobra: Nickname for the Bell P-39 fighter airplane. Aerial forces in the air. Aileron: Control surface Airstrip: Generally a landing field for aircraft. Ammo: Ammunition. Anchor: Apply in flight. air brakes, flaps, etc, in an attempt to slow "Throw out the anchor' —reduce speed down as rapidly rapidly as possible. The Angle-off: target and angular measurement between line of flight of an aerial line of sight of an attacking aircraft. Anoxia: Absence of oxygen in the blood experienced by pilots while flying at high altitudes. Attrition: The enemy ac- which includes ac- process of permanent loss of aircraft due to tion or other operational or defined causes, cidents. Auger-in: A slang term meaning to crash in an airplane. bomber by Boeing. The "Flying Fortress." Four-engined bomber by Consolidated. The "Liberator." Two-engined bomber by North American. The "Mitchell." B-17: Four-engined B-24: B-25: Bail or Bailout: The action of parachuting from an airplane. Sometimes written as "bale out." Balls Out: Full speed ahead! lating the speed of a Bandit: Pilot slang for an Barrel Roll: An aerial Taken from the centrifugal governor regu- steam engine. enemy maneuver aircraft. in which an airplane is caused to make a complete roll about a line offset but parallel to the longitudinal THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY the chamber of a revolver revolves about the barrel. Some- axis, as times called a "slow Belly-land: To roll/' but the two are land an airplane on the landing gear. A its slightly different. underside without the benefit of skidding landing with no wheels, due to their having been shot away in combat or the lowering mechanism rendered inoperative. An Bird: airplane is a bird to a pilot. Blind Approach: Approach to a landing under conditions of very low visibility made with man Army, featuring armored forces and with these the aid of instruments or radio. Highly mobile form of warfare introduced by the Ger- Blitz, Blitzkrieg: new air between cooperation close fast-moving power. Old-style army units could not cope techniques, which led to rapid victories. Literally, "flash war"; generally, lightning war. B.O.B.: Battle of Britain. Boa Cumulus: A cloud around a mountain top. Boston: North American Aviation The Company twin-engine light bomber. A-20. Bogey: First sighting of an unidentified airplane in To Bounce: aircraft. Brassed off: flight. attack an aircraft or target on the ground from another Especially applied to catching an enemy pilot unawares. Slang for angry. Break!: "Break right!" or "Break left!" was a signal to an airborne com- rade to make an instantaneous turn in the direction indicated, a to avoid being shot down by an attacking enemy aircraft. Buck Fever: The tension and excitement experienced by a fighter pilot maneuver designed few combat missions. "Buck fever" usually leads to wild and missed targets. A fighter pilot no longer so afflicted is said to have conquered his buck fever. Burp Guns: Automatic machine guns usually carried by infantrymen. in his first firing To fly low over the ground. CAP: Combat Air Patrol. Buzz: Ceiling Zero: Atmospheric condition above ground is less than when cloud fifty feet to its height or ceiling base. Chomp on the Binders: To apply the brakes. Chop Up: To shoot up an aerial or ground target, the bullets tearing the target to pieces. Clobber: To crash an airplane; to destroy or damage an with gunfire. The pilot's seat and controls in an airplane. Cold Turkey: Without mincing words. Also, a sure kill. Cockpit: area or airplane GLOSSARY 313 A Condor Legion: volunteer air force made up from the Luftwaffe to gain experience in Spain in supporting General Franco, 1936-1939. Vapor trails or condensation moves through the air. behind an aircraft Controlled Interception: Friendly aircraft are directed to the enemy Contrails: as it by radio from a ground or aircraft or target A Control Tower: trails visible radio-equipped trained personnel to control air air station. an airfield manned by and ground traffic on or above the facility at field. To Court-martial: try or judge a Damaged: As claimed in person in a military court. combat, an aircraft claimed as partially de- stroyed but subject to repair. Deck: The ground, the cloud Deflection Shot: The level, or the deck of an aircraft carrier. angle of a shot in gunnery measured between the line of sight to the target and the line of sight to the aiming point. Diaterka: A prisoner-of-war camp near Sverdlosk in the Ural Moun- tains of Russia. Ditch: To force-land an airplane in the water with intention of abandonment. Dogfight: An battle aerial between opposing fighter aircraft. Aerial combat. Sometimes called a rhubarb. A Ejector Seat: seat designed to catapult at sufficient velocity to clear the airplane completely. Eleven O'clock Low: by a The clock position of a bogey or airplane sighted pilot. External Store: Any fuel tank, bomb, rocket, etc., attached to the wings or fuselage of an airplane. Fat Dog: Luftwaffe expression for large bombers loaded with bombs. Sometimes called "fat target"— a target of considerable value. Feldwebel: Flight Sergeant. Firewall: Fireproof wall between pilot means full throttle. Flaking: Loss of members of a flight ward before reaching the target. and engine, slang, "firewall the throttle" Flieger division: An of aircraft as they turn back home- air division. Fliegerhorstkommandant: Airfield commandant. Forced Landing: A landing forced upon an aircraft through mechanical failure or Four-motor: any other reason. A four-motor bomber. In erally the British Halifax, Stirling, World War II these were gen- Lancaster and Lincoln* Ameri- can four-motors were the Boeing B-17 Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 3M Fuhrerhauptquartier: Fiihrer Headquarters. Furungsstab: Operations Staff. l ull Bore: Full throttle or full speed ahead. FW-190: The Focke-Wulf single-engined fighter plane. Gaggle: A number of aircraft flying in loose formation. Gandy Dancing: an Skirting avoiding issue; confrontation with a problem. Gear: Short for landing gear, the wheels of an airplane. General der Jagdflieger: General of the Fighter Forces. General der Kampfflieger: General of the Bomber Forces. Generalstab: General Staff. The Geschwader: Luftwaffe. homogeneous mobile, largest A Wing. formation In the Luftwaffe a Fighter Wing in the (Jagdge- schwader) consisted of three Gruppen. Thus: A Wing consisted of three Gruppen (Groups) A Gruppe consisted of three Staff eln (Squadrons) A Staff el consisted of three Schwarms (Each Schwarm consisted of four (Flights) aircraft, and was divided into two Rotten.) (The Rotte of two aircraft was the basic tactical element.) Geschwaderkommodore: The wing commander. Usually a colonel or lieutenant colonel; sometimes a major; very rarely, a captain. Glycol: A thick alcohol, C 2 H 4 (OH) 2 , used as a coolant in liquid- cooled aircraft engines. Graf: German Gray Out: when for Count. Start of a blackout, the phenomenon a pilot experiences pulling G's on an airplane, resulting in the blood leaving his head and his sight Ground Loop: Loss becoming lost. of lateral control of an airplane making on the ground sudden change re- in sudden turn, a strut on the outside of the turn will break and the aircraft suffers considerable damage. A noseover or a somersault on the ground is not a ground loop, although it may result from a ground loop. Gruppe: A Group. Usually consisted of three squadrons. Largest sulting in the aircraft direction. Usually a (thirty-six aircraft) a wheel or gear individual operational unit of the Luftwaffe fighter force. Gruppenkommandeur: Group commander. Usually a major, sometimes a captain. Guards Fighter Regiment: A special group of Soviet fighter pilots selected from the best pilots. Hack: To tolerate something; also to accomplish something, or shoot another aircraft down, especially a big bomber. GLOSSARY 315 A German Hals und Beinbruchl: "Break your head and bones." saying which meant the opposite— good luck. Havoc: Nickname for the A-20 attack bomber. Head-on: A frontal attack. Heavies: Bomber aircraft of the four-engined type. Hedgehop: Sometimes called "contour chasing/' Flying very low over the ground, rising up over trees, houses, hills, etc. Hochschule: School at the college Horrido!: The victory cry of the Luftwaffe fighter pilots. Also a greeting and parting word among The level. friends and comrades of the Luftwaffe. and American cry of cry of the hunter. Similar to the British "Tallyho!" Hyperventilation: Excessive ventilation of the blood induced by rapid or deep breathing, often experienced by pilots while flying at high altitudes. Hypoxia: Insufficient oxygen in the blood at high altitudes. The Ilyushin "Stormovik" dive bomber used by the Soviet Air IL-2: Force. Inertia Starter: Hand-operated starter used to start aircraft engines. Inspekteur der Nachtjager: Inspector of Night Fighters. Inspekteur der Tagjager: Inspector of Day Fighters. Jabo: Abbreviation for fighter-bomber. Abbreviation of Jagdfuhrer, "Fighter Leader." Separate fighter com- Jafii: mands in each Luftflotte. Originally assigned a policy-regulating and observing role, Fighter Leaders later controlled operations and handled considerable administration. Jagdfliegerheim: A rest and recuperation spa used by the fighter pilots, located at Bad Wiessee in Germany. Jagdgeschwader: Gruppen Fighter of pilots wing. and Usually consisted From 108 to wing. Some were aircraft. up the establishment of a of 144 three or aircraft larger. four made See under Geschwader. Jagdstaffel: Fighter squadron. Jagerblatt: Fighter News. A periodical published by the German Fighter Pilots' Association. JG-26: Fighter Jink: Wing 26, known over Europe as "The Abbeville Boys." To jerk an aircraft about in evasive action. To fly or pilot an airplane. Slang name for "pilot." Jockey: Joy Stick: Slang for control stick of a fighter airplane. Jump: To attack an enemy aircraft. /V-44: The Me-262 equipped "Squadron of Experts." Kadetten Korps: Cadet Corps. Karaya One: Erich Hartmann's radio call sign. T f THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 3i6 Karinhall: Goering's estate on the Shorfheide, about twenty-five miles north of Berlin. Kette: Basic three-ship element used in early Luftwaffe fighter tactics, the counterpart of the RAF's three-ship "Vic" formation. Replaced World War Luftwaffe before in the II by the Rotte and Schwann formations; returned with the Me-262. commander. Kettenfiihrer: Flight KIA: Killed Kill: A in action. victory in aerial combat. Destroying an Does not Kite: An refer to the death of an enemy aircraft in flight. airplane. Kommodore: Abbreviation officer of a A Geschwaderkommodore. Commanding of wing. La: Lavochkin La-5. Lagg-y. enemy pilot. A fighter plane employed in Russia. single-engined Russian fighter plane designed by Lavochkin, Gorbunor, and Gudkov. Lead (rhymes with heed): The action of aiming ahead of moving a See "deflection shot." target. Leutnant: Lieutenant. The Lockheed Lightning: P-38, a twin-boom-fuselaged single-seat fighter aircraft. Lufbery Circle: other in enemy A formation in which two or more aircraft follow each flight aircraft. in circles Named developed the tactic in for in order to protect one another from Major Raoul Lufbery, American ace who World War Luftflotten: Tactical and Luftwaffe: Air force. The name I. territorial air of the commands. German Literally, air fleets. Air Force from 1935 through 1945. Lysander: A British two-place single-engined high-wing monoplane extensively used for An Macchi: army cooperation. Italian fighter plane manufactured by the Macchi Com- pany. Mack: The speed is Mach Marauder: of a body as compared name for the Officially known U.S.-built Martin B-26 medium signal of distress. as the Bf-109, Germany's most famous single- designed by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke engined fighter. Originally A.G. Augsburg. Called Me-109 in at which 1.0. Popular bomber. Mayday: International radiotelephone Me- 109: to the speed of sound, this book because it is so known by most Americans and is so referred to by virtually all German aces. The term Bf-109, while historically correct, is relatively unknown in the United States. GLOSSARY 3 17 Me-262: The Messerschmitt twin-engined jet fighter. Methanol: A colorless, volatile alcohol injected into an to give it MIA: Missing Mission: An aircraft engine a few seconds of additional power. in action. air objective carrying aircraft fly out a combat air mission; a number of x number of sorties (number of aircraft committed) to carry out a mission. Mustang: The North American Aviation Company P-51 fighter air- plane. Nachtjagdgeschwader: Night fighter wing, abbreviated as NJG, lowed by the number of the wing, e.g., NJG-6. Night Fighter: aircraft A fol- and crew that operates at night, the being provided with special equipment for detecting enemy fighter aircraft aircraft at night. NKVD: Russian Narodny Kommissariat Vnutrennikh Del, the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Nose Over: An moving on the ground noses over, tips over on its nose and propeller, damaging nose and prop. Sometimes it somersaults over on its back. This is not a ground loop, which is merely directional loss of control of an airplane on the ground. No Sweat: airplane Slang for "without difficulty." Oberkommando der Luftwaffe: Referred to as OKL, the Luftwaffe High Command. Oberkommando des Heeres: Referred to as OKH, the Army High Command. Oberleutnant: First lieutenant. Not to be confused with Oberstleutnant, lieutenant colonel. Oberst: Colonel. Oberstleutnant: Lieutenant colonel. O'clock: The out by position of another airplane sighted in the air was called its clock position from the observer, twelve o'clock being straight ahead; six o'clock high, directly server; behind and above the ob- nine o'clock, horizontally ninety degrees left of the ob- server. OKH: Army High Command. OKL: Open Command. High Command of the Armed Luftwaffe High OKW: City: A city of a belligerent Forces. power declared by that power to be noncombatant, and made so in order to avoid bombing or shelling from any of the combatant forces. OSSOAVIAKIM: of youths War II. Flying Association in Russia which gave thousands paratroop, glider and flying training before World «' THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 318 Overshoot: In air combat, to fly over or past the enemy plane when following through on an attack. A highly trained and experienced bomber crew that preceded the bomber formation to the target and marked it with flares Pathfinder: smoke bombs or RAF The for easy location and attack by the main force. frequently used Mosquito fighter-bombers in the path- finder role. Perch: Position of tactical advantage prior to initiating an attack on an enemy airplane. Photo Recce: Photographic reconnaissance. Port: The left side of an airplane facing forward. The right side is star- board. P.O.W.: Prisoner of war. Prang: Slang for crash or collision of airplane, also to crash-land. Also in RAF as in down an enemy airplane or accurately hit a target, "wizard prang"— meaning a successful operation. An Probable: With it slang to is instance in which a hostile airplane a "probable" considered so USAAF is probably destroyed. known whether it actually crashed, but badly damaged as to make its crash probable. it is not claims in aerial combat listed three categories: firmed destroyed. 2. Probably but unconfirmed 1. Con- destroyed. 3. Damaged. Prop: Rack: An abbreviation for propeller. To make a sudden, violent maneuver in RAF. Royal a fighter plane. Air Force. Recce: Abbreviation for reconnaissance. Recip: Abbreviation for reciprocating engine. Red An Alert: to alert that exists when attack by the enemy is or seems be imminent. Red Guards Fighter Unit: A regiment made up of the best Soviet fighter aces. Red Line: A mum speed of the airplane. Other red mark on the air-speed indicator flight showing the safe maxi- instruments also have a red line. Reef It In: Rev: To To change direction increase the rpm of flight violently. of an engine; to rev it up. Reverse: One-hundred-and-eighty-degree change of direction in Rhubarb: A flight. dogfight or the harassment of ground targets by a flight of A German term for aerial combat. mechanism, device, weapon, etc., that operates automatically. Trade name of a well-known German camera used to make sequence exposures of aerial combat and synchronized with the fighter aircraft's armament. aircraft. Robot: A GLOSSARY 319 Roger!: Pilot language meaning "Received O.K." A Rotte: two-plane formation. Smallest tactical element in the Luftwaffe fighter force. Rottenfiieger: Wingman. Rottenfiihrer: Leader of a Rotte. Loosely, an element leader. R/T: Radiotelephone, or Horridus: The savior St. radio transmitter. saint of the Luftwaffe fighter pilots and origin of the victory cry "Horrido!" Schiessschule der Luftwaffe: Luftwaffe Gunnery School. Schlachtgeschwader: Ground Attack Wing, or Close Support Wing. The SG-2 was commanded by famed Stuka pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel. Schwarm: Two-Rotte formation, four or five aircraft acting in a single flight. Schwarmfuhrer: Leader of The Scramble: Scrub: To a Schwarm. action of getting fighter aircraft into the air quickly. cancel a flight, sortie, or mission. Shakhty Revolt: Revolt at the Shakhty prisoner-of-war camp in Russia. Snake Maneuver: A Soviet tactic developed to get the IL-2 Stormovik fighter-bomber home when attacked by German fighters. The would enter a Lufbery above the ground and work IL-2's maneuver, a weaving, circle, then descend to a few feet way home using the snake follow-the-leader maneuver for mutual their protection. The tendency Snaking: of an airplane to yaw in flight from side to side at a certain frequency. A Sortie: flight or sally of a single airplane which penetrates into air- enemy contact may be expected. While a single plane or any number of aircraft may go out on a mission, each aircraft flying is actually making a sortie. One mission may involve any number of sorties. space where A Split S: onto high-speed maneuver in which the airplane makes a half-roll its back and then dives groundward, leveling opposite direction at a Stabs-Schwarm: A Staffel: his adjutant A make up normally fly off going in the lower altitude. headquarters flight of three to the same type that and much the Geschwader. in the six aircraft, usually of The wing commander Stabs-Schwarm. squadron. Consisted of three Schwarms, made up of twelve to fifteen aircraft. Three or sometimes four Staffeln up Stalin a Gruppe. Hawks: Stalinfalken, or aces' nom Stalin Eagles. The from made top Soviet fighter de plume. Starboard: Right side of an aircraft facing forward. The left side is port. THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 3 20 Strafe: To dive at and machine-gun targets on the ground. Sometimes spelled "straff." Strip: An aircraft landing field. Stukatcha: Stool pigeon. A code expression called over the radio by a fighter pilot when he sights the enemy target. Derived from the traditional English Tally hoi: hunting cry. in essence The Luftwaffe fighter pilots called "Horrido!" which had the same meaning. Tlirottle-jockey: name Slang for a Sometimes shortened pilot. to "Throttle-jock" or shorter yet to "Jock." name Thunderbolt: Popular American pilots called it the Republic P-47 fighter airplane. for the "Jug" Tiger: Eager pilot; eager to fight. Because of their general nature and quick reactions, most fighter pilots are referred to as "tigers" in aviation circles. Tracer Bullet: flight of A bullet containing a pyrotechnic mixture to The Me-262 jet fighter airplane. Undershoot: To land short of the runway; to Turbo make the the projectile visible. Fighter: shoot under a target in combat. aerial The lowest non-commissioned rank standing between the non-commissioned rank of sergeant and the rank of Staff Sergeant Unteroffizier: in the Luftwaffe. Verbandsfuhrer: Unit commander. Vic: AV formation of three airplanes. Waffengeneral: Technical Service General. Wilco: Radiotelephone word of acknowledgment. Abbreviation for "Will comply" or "Will cooperate." In addition, "Roger-Wilco" means "Received O.K., will comply." Wilde Sau: Literally, "Wild Boar," name of a German night fighter unit operating without radar aids in single-engined fighters. Window: Metal foil strips that cause a reflection on radarscopes cor- rupting radar information. Also called "chaff." an airplane window it When dropped from cluttered radar screens, giving the impres- sion that great hordes of aircraft were in the air, or completely obscuring the radar screen. Windscreen: An airplane windshield. Wingco: Abbreviation for wing commander. Zerstorer: Literally, "destroyer." The name chosen for the long-range, twin-engined Me-110 fighter. Zerstorer geschwader: Destroyer wing. Fighter wings consisting of lio's, Ju-87's, etc., and expressed dive-bomber wings of the Luftwaffe. as ZG-26, ZG-i, etc. Me- Actually INDEX Aces, air combat: and awards, Luftwaffe, 119 ff.; Luftwaffe, 36-47, 48-49, 50, 51 J1 4> xl 5> 55> 93^ 94- 10 3> ff., 296; criteria listed, for, 55, n9 ff -> 123-24, 134-36 (see also specific individuals by name); RAF, 93; Red Air Force, 89, 91, 119-3 3, 134 {see also specific individuals by name); 171-73, 311, 312 Babak, I. I., 132 Bachnik, Sergeant, 66 Bad Wiessee, 148-54 Baer, Heinz ("Pritzl"), 98, 115, 157-58, 159; a leading ace with 220 con- firmed victories, USAF, 124 255-57, 266, 267 Air Academy School, Luftwaffe (BerlinGatow), 28-29 7, Airacobras (P-39's), 57-58, 139, 171-73, 3 11 Aircraft (see also specific planes nation): Russian and World War by desig- German com- 119-22 ff. Air Force Military Training Regiment, Luftwaffe, 10, 28-29 II, Baku oil fields, 34 try official), 267 Barkhorn, Gerhard (Gerd), 9-11, 92-93, 99, 103, 124, 134-35; and "circus" fighting, air 135; described and praised, 96-97; at Hartmann's wed- 153; a leading ace with ding, victories, 94, 96, 100, 103, Swords wounded, 135 Alexander, Jean, 131 decoration to, 115; Battle of Britain, 28, 95, 98, 123 Battle of the German Bight, 27 World War II: (see also specific countries, individ- bombings by, 59-60, 98, 105, 108, 109, 120, 145-46, 155, 157, 161-74, 298 and postwar Germany, 215; and surrender and treatment of ; Germany, 181-90 Batum, 271 Batz, Wilhelm ("Willi"), 30, 95, 101-2, 140-41; career of, 101-2, 113; as group commander, 113, 115; at Hartmann's wedding, 111, 103, 113, 153; a leading ace with 237 victories, Amavir, 49 94, 101-2, 103; defense, 170 and Ploesti oil fields Antifa movement, 198-201, 206 Bauer, Dr., 201-2 war (1967), 280 Ardennes offensive, 153-54 Below, Major von, 10-11, 143-44 Berchtesgaden, 9-11, 92-93, 104 Berlin blockade (1948), 272 Arab-Israeli Arkhipenko, F. Armament, 301 134-35, 136, 156; and new German AF, 266-67; reacne s 250 victories, 115; Alelyukhin, A. V., 132 uals) scor- Bansch (West German Defense Minis- Akmet-Khan, Sultan, 132 Alhorn, 277, 285 Allies (allied powers), 157-58; top ing ace in Me-262, 157-58 Ackerman, Colonel, 202-3 Adenauer, Konrad, pared, A-20 Douglas Boston attack bombers, 29 F., 133 (see also weather and functioning Gunnery); of, 81 Berlin-Gatow, Air 29 Academy School, 28- 1 THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY BF-109, zq n. See also Me-109 Gang, Bicycle Hans-Joachim, Birkncr. Chinese Reds, 218 Chislov, A. M., 132 21 100, 66, 103, Chkalov, Valery, 125 Christian Democrats, postwar Germany, 1 1 113-14 Blcssin, Orje, 66, 270 Bdblingen, 155, 156; Airport, 18, 154 Bobrov, V. [., 133 Bogey, defined, 89 n, 3 12 Bohemia, 182, 189 Bohlen Halbach, Harald von, 253 Bong, Richard I., 124 Bonin, Hubertus von, 37-39, 42, 52, 95, Chubkob, F. M., Churchill, Winston, 182; quoted, 182, 2 55 Clemenceau, Georges, quoted, 224 Climbing spiral maneuver, air combat, 129 Closing the Ring (Churchill), 182 n Coal 103 Bonn government. See West Germany (A-20's), Braham, "Bob," 93 Brainwashing techniques, use by 171- in, use of, 13, 180-90 and prisoners of war, 182-90, 191-208, 209-23, 244-47, 2 54-57 (see also NKVD); and war crime NKVD 218-23, 224- Briansk, 234, 235 Bribery, escape from Russian German of 240 (see also specific countries, individ- uals); 263-65 37, Russian, Communism 73> J". 312 Boyington, Gregory ("Pappy"), 13 on war prisoners mines, P.O.W.'s Cold War, 13 (communists), Borcher, Adolf, 103 Borovykh, A. Y., 132 Boston attack bombers 132 charges, 224-37 Condor Legion, 27, 37, 313 Crimea, 110, 111-12, 161 Czechoslovakia, 159, 161, 170, 171, 175, war prisons 181-90 and, 216 Britain, Battle of, 28, 95, 98, Briinn, 175-76, 177 B-17's (Flying 112, 1 62, Fortresses), trainer Bucharest, 105, 108, 112, 311 (plane), 28 Diamonds 1, Budapest, 193, 194 Budweis, 192 Ihiiidesliiftwaffe, 27, 269-87 Busch, Kurt, 23-24 200-1, 199, Knight's Cross award, 267, 268, 270, Buzze, Wylene, 276 7150, 206 Canada, German P.O.W.'s in, 239 Capito. Guentlier, 56-58 Carpathian Mountains, 193 Caucasus Mountains, 34, 36, 37 Changsha, China, 16 Cherepovets prison camp, 250 German refugees, treatment by Red Army of, 184-87, 189 China, Hartmann family in, 15-18 in, 298; 1-8, 250-54, 3H3 Dickfcld, Adolf, 103 Dictatorships (see also Communists; Fas- Frank, 276 Children, to his 12, 13, 102, 142, 160, 178, 194, Hartmann and, 142-47 Diaterka prison camp, Hartmann Buehligen, Kurt, 93, 103 Camp techniques for, 217-23 and Deutsch Brod, 161, 170, 175, 176 161 Bucher, Lloyd M., 218 Buz7.e, Daimler-Benz airplane engines, 29, 80 Dammers, Hans, 48-49, 52, 103 Dehumanization, German war prisoners NKVD 311 B-24's (Liberators), BT-NB 123 cists; Nazis); psychology of, 189-90 Digora, 44 Dnepropetrovsk, 88 Dnieper River, 88 Dogfighting, 84 ff., pilots; air combat, 11, 48-49, noff. (see also Aces; Fighter Gunnery; Tactics; specific indefined, dividuals, planes); Hartmann on, 173-74 Dolgikh, A. G., 132 Donets Basin, 64 Duettmann, Peter, 103 313; INDEX 323 175-90. See also JG-52; Eagle's Nest, 9-11, 92-93, 104 Front, evaluation of, Eastern (Russian) 119-33; Hitler and, 105 (see alco Adolf); Russian pilots and Flying Fortresses. See B-17's (Flying For- strength on, 119-33, 134; USAAF Mustangs and, 161-74; World War F-104 "Starfighter" jet, 276-86 Foennekold, Otto, 103 Fonck, Rene Paul, 126 Hitler, war on, 105-18, 119-33, 134- II air 47, 161 (see also specific air forces, individuals, locations, countries, planes); worsening Luftwaffe situation East specific in- dividuals, locations (1944), 109 Germany Food German P.O.W.'s (hunger), in Russian prison camps and, 195, 205, 225-30 210, 219, 222, Fortresses. See B-17's (Flying Fortresses) ff. German (East tresses ) People's Republic), 198, 231-32; Air Force, 210, 232 Freud, Sigmund, 190 Friedland, Germany, 259 FW-109 (plane), 314 Eckert, Heinz, 138-39 Eder Dam, allied Ehrenburg, Ilya, bombing Galland, Adolf, 51, 52, 129, 157, 268; and air combat strategy, 146; Dia- 59-60 of, 189, 219 (Luftwaffe), 87 8th Squadron mond award interview 202-3 Engelmann, Werner, 196 Escape, German war prisoners and, 216-17 Ellerbrock, Major, Espionage, recruitment war by Russia for, Russia of 222 2 (fascists), 202, 209, 189, 232. Second World 198, 190, See also 201, Commu- nism; Nazism; specific countries, in- dividuals F-84 jet planes, 274 F-86 "Sabres," 124 Fiesler Storch Fighter pilots, World War 55, also Aces; 95 ff., II, 27-47 pas- 146 (see 119-33, 115 Air Force 269-86 (West Germany), 9, (see also Luftwaffe); and, 266-68, 269-87; and postwar jets, 269-86 German Army, World War II: and Ardennes offensive, 153-54; surrender of prisoners, 181-90, and treatment 191-208, 209-23, 224-37, 2 38—54; West German, 269 ff. German Federal Republic. See West Ger- many German Officers' League, 198 (plane), 83-84 sim, to, 54 Hartmann Falck, Wolfgang, 27 Fascism Hartmann's Geneva Convention, treatment of prisoners of war and, 238, 240, 241, 248, 13, 27, of the 142; 148, Geiger, August, 93 German Ewald, Major, 202-3 Famous Fighters War, 161 with, Swords decoration in prisoners of to, 158-60; and Reich Defense, 111; and Squadron Experts of (IV-44), 158; 157, Elbrus, Mt., 34, 37 Elf's Night, 151, 152 Dogfighting; specific air Germany, 110 (see also East Germany; German Army; Hitler, Adolf; Nazism; West Germany; specific bat- by country, individuals); and postwar jets, 271-86 Force, present-day (West Germany), Home, 148-54 9, 13, 27, 52, 53, 56,95,96, 98, 99, forces Fighter Pilots' Fighter Pilots' School, Oldenburg, 276- Wing (Fighter 52, Luftwaffe. Wing See JG-52 52), Luftwaffe Cossack Division, 253 I /JG-52 (First Group, 52 nd 1st Wing, Luftwaffe), 159-60, 161-74, locations); Air World War (see Luftwaffe); allied bombing of, 59-60, 98, 105, 107, 108, 109, 120, 145-47, *55> *57» l6l ~74> 298; Fighter individuals, 102, 269-86; Air Force, II 77 Fighter tles, army, World War man Army); 116-18, II (see Ger- defeat and surrender of, 176-90, 191-208, 209 ff.; THE BLOND K N I G*H T oV GERMANY Germany Gunnery (cont'd) pre-World ment of War II, 18 ff.; 15, treat- U.S. prisoners of war by, 2 39 combat (air marksmanship), 29-30, 49-53, 85-86, 98, 127-28; postwar jet and, 274, 282 Gunsche, Otto, 252-53 Gleiwitz, 30 Glider Gang, 21 Haeckel, Bishop, 220 Gliding (gliders; glider clubs ) , pre-World War II, 19-20, 21, 125, 277 Glinka, Boris Borisovich, 133 Glinka, Dimitri Borisovich, 132 Glunz, Adolf, 103 188 rape, 187, ^ Glycol, 314 Gnido, P. A., 132 Goebbels, Dr. Joseph Paul, 34, 102, 107, 189 Goering, Hermann, 8-9, 145, 146, 158 Gollob, Gordon, 135; Diamonds award to, Hahn, Hans ("Assi"), 196, 199, 202, 259-60 Hals und Beinbruch, 65; defined, 315 Hanging (s), as punishment for wartime 142, 160; reassigns Hartmann to JG-52, 159-60 Golovachev, P. Y., 132 Golubev, Vasilii F., 132 Golubev, Viktor F., Hartmann, Alfred (brother), 16-17, 20, 259, 260; and Erich Hartmann's release, 259, 260, 268; describes brother as a boy, 20-21, 24 Hartmann, Dr. Alfred (father), 5, 15-18, 22; toward attitude 106-7; death of, war, 27, 60, 13, 218, 265; and son's marriage, 150-51, 153, 155 Hartmann, Elisabeth (mother), 5, 16-18, 24, 27, 106; and son's interest in flying, 18-19; and 132 Hermann, 102, 103, 157; an ace 212 victories, 94; and Antifa movement, 198-201; breaks 200 air combat victories mark, 135; commands JG-52, 159-60; Diamonds Graf, with 249-50, 255-57, 261 aces of JG-52 and, 94-103; achievements in air against release, Russians evaluated, 119-33; a P" pointed leader of 9th Squadron, 62; awards and decorations render, specific 175, 177-78, 180, 182; return Hartmann of JG-52, 159-60; Swords decoration awarded to, re- to 115; as war prisoner of the Russians, 191, 194, 198, 201, 206 Grasser, Hartmann, 180, 181, 182, 209 Great Britain and the British Allies; Battle of Britain; (see also RAF; West- ern Front; specific battles, individuals, sive, planes); and Ardennes offen- 153-54; anc* German sur- render, 177 Green, William, quoted, 161 Grislawski, Alfred, 38, 45, 49, 52, 103 Ground loop, defined, 314 Gryazovets prison camp, 196-208, 211 Guards Fighter Regiments, Russian Air Force, 122-24, 125, 130, 134, 314 Guderian, Heinz, 104 Gulaev, N. D., 132 Gul'tyaev, G. K., 132 to, 9-11, 12, 104-5 ( see a ^ so and decorations); 13, 62-63, 78-93, awards biographical data (listed chronologically), South" 296-97; "Black Devil of the title given by Russians to, 78-93, 211-12; boyhood and early education of, 12, 15-27; "Bubi" nickname ishment Gratz, Karl, 103 early son's Hartmann, Erich: awarded to, 142; first pilot to reach 200 victories, 102; and German surquests 8, 9, for, in 9, 54; Russian bunker puncamps, labor 242 ff., 247; 204-5, 21 4> 22 5~3 character and personality described, > 13-14, 20-24, 52, 286-87; in China as a boy, 15-18; commissioned as Second Lieutenant in Luftwaffe, 30; and 1-7, 9, 11, 12, 56, 281, Crimean evacuation, 111-12; criticism of and difficulties in new German Air Force (West Germany), 270-71, 276-86; Diaterka camp imprisonment of, 250; downed by USAAF P^i's, parachutes to safety, 167-70; downs Russian YAK-11 for 352nd and interest last victory, in gliders and 176; early planes, 18- INDEX 325 Hartmann, Erich (cont'd) 21; Eastern Front combat described 132; establishes validity of his by, 87-88; fellow to skeptics, victories characterization pilots' of, 56; 52, 27-30; first meeting with wife, Ursula ("Usch"), fighter pilot training of, Hartmann, Ursula); mission with Rossmann, 40-42; 24-26 first (see also Galland and, 148, 158-60; German surrender and, 175-90 ff.; and Graf prisoner-of-war camps, 198-201, Lieutenant, First 107-8; promoted to full Colonel, 286; released from imprisonment and return home, 255- 68; represents West Germany on NATO Standing Committee, 284; request to world governments for reform of prisoner-of-war codes by, NKVD 253-54; resistance to treatment and techniques by, 1 ff., 197-208, 209-23, 224-37, 238-54; and Russian imprisonment of, xiii- imprison- 1-8, 13, 191-208, 209-23 ff., 238-54; Russians put price on head gunnery of, 79; scores fifth victory, 55; scores and marksmanship of, 29-30 (see tactics in also Hartmann, Erich: aerial combat and success of); Hitler scores fifty victories in sixty-six day in 206; Gryazovets ment of, 196-208, 211; 104-5; Hitler's hat prank by, 10-11; holds described worn camp by, in combat record of 352 air an all-time world record pilots, 11-12; hunger victories, for fighter and strike forced feeding of, 225-30, 242; in- combat fame on xiv, forty-sixth confirmed period, 79; scores 115th victory, 62; 202nd victory and is awarded Oak Leaf, 92-93; scores 250th vic- and is awarded Swords to Knight's Cross, 114-15; scores 300th victory and receives Diatory monds award, 134-37, victory, ern Front of, 78-93; introduced to camp imprisonment Me-109, 29-30; intuition for presence of enemy, possessed by, 81, 112-15; JG"5 2 assignment on East- 238-54; skiing Kirov 31; 195-96, of the camp imprisonment of, 197, 206; Knight's Cross Iron Cross award to after 150th victory, 62-63; Kuteynikovo camp imprisonment of, 225-37; last mission before surrender of Ger- many, 175-77; leading ace with 352 94, 96; leads Luftwaffe element, 55; legendary combat cool- victories, ness of, Night 85 ff.; marriage and Elf's celebration, 148-57; "My Personal Twist Regulations" by, 8687; Novocherkassk 198, 247, 250; tion awarded to, treatment of imprisonment Oak Leaves German Arizona, prisoners 274-76; 79, trial on war criminal charges and sentencing by Russians, USAAF and 233-37, Mustangs in 2 38—54; combat, 161-74; validity of confirmed combat victories, xiv, credits logbook of, aerial 87-88; victory 290-92; war criminal charges by Russians against, 224-37, 238; and West Germany Air Force, 9, 13, 266-68, 269-88; "Wild Boar" as boyhood nickname for, 24; wingmen and, 50-55, 56, 79, 81-82, 87 ff., 110-11, 113-15 Hartmann, Peter Erich (son), 13, 218, in of Phoe- Polryshkin Hartmann, Ursula ("Usch") (Mrs. Erich Hartmann), 4, 5, 6, 14, 24-26, 27, 60, 147, 156; and German surrender, 180; gives 59, 136, 139, daughter, to band in Arizona, jet success of, 11- 29-30, 42-47, 48 ff., 56, 81-82, 87 ff., 110-11, 113-15; birth compared revolt, 12, 130, ace) and ability of, 24; tactics 27186; and prison letters, 205-8, 21718, 224, 226-27, 247; promoted to (Russian 131; and postwar Shakhty decora- 78-93, 104-5; on war by Russians, 187-89; nix, of, 156; combat and in aerial scores and 336th ern Front, 31, 32-47 ff., 48 ff. (see also JG-52); joins Luftwaffe, 27- 61; scores East- creases aerial victory, to, planes, 142, 273; with hus- 274-76; and husband's release from imprisonment, 256- 58, 274-76; and husband's war- THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 3^6 Hartmann, Ursula (cont'd) Ihlefeld, Herbert, 95, time imprisonment, 205-8, 209-10, 217-18, 224, 226, 242; marriage of, 31, 106, 148-57; wartime reunions with husband, 106, 116, 147, 148- II Russian Informers, Soviet, 198, 203-4, 21 ^> 21 7» "Havoc" (USAAF plane), 315. See also A-20 Douglas Boston attack bomb- 222, 244 Iron Cross decoration, 115-18. See 55, oho Diamonds; Knight's Cross; Oak ers Herleschausen, Germany, 7, 258 Hero of the Soviet Union awards, 124, 125, 131; Gold Star to, 125, 131 Himmler, Heinrich, 158 Hitler, Adolf, 68, 107; 116-17, J 43» bomb 19, 142-46; Gunsche as adjutant to and cremation of, 252; Hartmann's de104-5, 1J 6-i8, 144and Oak Leaves award to Hartmann, 9-11, 92-93, 104-5; an d Swords decoration to Hartmann, 115, 116- scription of, Me-262 and Leaves; Swords Iron Curtain, 216 Israel-Arab J Tell the war (1967), 280 n Truth (Hahn), 196-97, 199 plot against, comes t0 power, 197-98; Communists and, 197-98; Diamonds award to Hartmann by, Japan, treatment of prisoners of war by, 2 39 112, 128 JG-26 (Fighter Wing 26), Luftwaffe, Jassy, known as "Abbeville Boys," Wing 52), Luftwaffe, 3, 8-11, 32-47, 48 ff., 64 ff., 107 ff., 6, 130 (see also viduals, of, 48 112, 191; 269 Hoffmann, Gerhard, 103 Hohagen, Lieutenant, 29, 30, 159 Honest John (Mahurin), 218 Horizontal maneuvering, aerial combat, mann 120 waffe, Hrabak, Dietrich 64-65, 75, (Dieter), 9 5; I 34-37, with 125 vicand new German Air Force, 266, 267; and U.S. bombing a leading ace 141-42; tories, 103; tactics (World War Fighter II, War II), 162 Squadron, World 92 Hungary, World War II aerial and, 92, 155-56 Hunger. See Food (hunger) Attack (Kozhedub), 124-25 121 combat (see II, Aces; I, 97, 95, 97; Hart- transfer resists also Group and is reas- signed to, 148, 155-60; Hartmann's fame in, 78-93; leadership in, 9596; as most successful wing, 94; surrender Luftwaffe 102-3, 175Mustangs and, 161-74; of, USAAF War Diary entries of record, 108-9 JG-71 Richthofen Fighter Wing, West 59, commands JG-52, 109; and Hartmann's 300th victory, Hungarian Group 90; Aces of the Luft- squadrons); aces 94, 103 individuals); Hobart, Major-General Sir Percy, quoted, Fighter specific groups, indi- locations, ff., specific 129 "Horrido!" 37; 315 JG-52 (Fighter 158; jets, 18 7 War bombers), 44-46, 61, 66 ff., 89-93, 97> 31 5; Hartmann's combat tactics against, 66 ff., 89-93 dive IL-10, 90 57 retirement 288 Hauer, Hein, 195 46; 103, 115 (World IL-2 Stormoviks German AF, 277-86 JG-77 (Fighter Wing World War JG-210 (Fighter 180 Ju-52 (World II, Luftwaffe, 97 Wing War 77), II 210), Luftwaffe, Luftwaffe trans- port plane), 33, 110 Ju-87, 32 Junger, Carl, 87; account of Hartmann's 300th victory by, 136-38, 140-41; and combat with USAAF Mustangs, 162, 165, 166-67 Jiirgens, Sergeant, 66 I-16 Rata, Juterborg, 8 I-151 Rata, 121 JV-44, Squadron of Experts, Me-262 and, I-153 Rata, 121 51, 52, 157, 158-60 INDEX 327 Kalinovka, 92 ski," Kammhuber, General, mann on 13, 277; and Hartuse of F-104, 282-83, 285 Kamozin, P. M., 132 One (Sweetheart One, Hartmann's plane), 63, 65, 67 ff.; Black Devil insignia on, 78-93; and combat with USAAF P-51 Mustangs, 161-74; increasing fame on Eastern 78-93; last mission, destroyed, 175-80; 300th victory, 140; "Usch" heart painted on fuselage, of, 81 Kharkov, 61 10, 1, {see also Diamonds; Swords); of Luftwaffe aces receiving, 298 Koeppen, Gerhard, 103 Kuteynikovo: of-war prisoner-of-war War II Russian fighter also Lightning (Lockheed P-38 fighter plane, USAAF), Likhobabiyi, 316 D., 133 I. Likholetov, P. Y., 133 Helmut, 100-1; an ace with 203 Luftwaffe career World War of, 100-1 Aircraft Corporation, 276, 316. See also specific aircraft Luetzow (Liitzow), Gunther, 135, 159, with 108 victoSwords to Knight's Cross 298; a leading ace 298; decoration to, 115 ("Count Punski"), 9, 159; described by Hartmann, 152, 153; hospitalized after crashing, 6061; a leading ace with 197 victo- new German (Russian Lenin, N., 192, 230, 241 Leningrad, siege of, 33 Liberators. See B-24's (Liberators) ries, 10-11, 29, 36, 50-55, 58, 95, 111, 103; in 225-37 132 Lechfeld, 156, 157, 158 Lemberg, 107, 108, 109 Lend-Lease aircraft, 134-171. See II Krasnodar, 50, 271 Krasnodar Aviation Club, 125 Kraznov, N. F., 132 94, at, F., Squadron 7th Lagg-9 planes, 59 Landsberg, 272, 273 Lavrinekov, Vladimir D., 123, 132 Lockheed ries, camp camps G. D., 132 Kotchekov, A. V., 132 Kozhedub, Ivan N., 124-25, 132, 134 Krakau, Poland, 31, 32, 136 Hartmann's wedding, 130; Bridge- Russian prisoner- 75; victories, 93, 100, 103; Kostilev, at 64, Kuznetsov, N. Lipfert, 55; Luftwaffe base at, 2 39 Korntal School, 23, 26 Korts, Berthold, 62, 103 112, 51, specific planes Kolberg, Sergeant, 28 Koldunov, A. I., 132 Komelkov, M. S., 132 Konigsberg Neumark, Hartmann takes instrument course at, 155 Korean War, 124; treatment of U.S. prisoners of war by Reds in, 218, Krupinski, Walter 50, plane), 121, 134, 314 Lagg-5 planes, 60, 61, 66 48, 61, 62-63, 158, 298 Oak Leaves; Peninsula, head, 97 Kubarev, V. N., 132 Kuehl, Captain, 34 Lagg-3 (World 27 (plane), 18 "Dad," Captain, 200-1 Klubov, Alexander, 131, 132 Knight Cross of the Iron Cross, victory, camps), 191-208, 20923; Shakhty camp revolt, 238-54 Klingbeil, list combat slave labor S., 133 Kirilyuk, V. V., 132 Kirov prison camp, 195-96, 197, 206 Kittel, Otto ("Bruno"), 115, 136 Klemm Kuban Labor Khlobystov, A. 75-76; scores 150th 62 after crashing, air Karaya Front nicknamed "Graf (Count) Pun54; Oak Leaves awarded to, 92-93; recalls Hartmann's escape 67; Kamenets Podolski, 109 Air Force (West Germany), 52, 266- Lufbery, Raoul, 316 Lufbery Circle aerial formation, 316 Luftwaffe (World War II), 26 ff., 7893, 119 ff., 134-37, 148 ff., 157-60 (see also specific battles, individuals, locations, planes, units); aces and awards, 36-47, 55, 93, 94-103; criteria for acedom in, 55; destruction of Russian Air Force on ground r r THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 328 Luftwaffe (cont'd) xiv; Eastern (Russian) Front activ- ity of, 32-47, 48-77, 78 148 (see also specific individuals, ft. 134 ff., organization units); locations, 63, 65-66, 79, 81, 115, 162; avoids Russian captivity, 1 79 n; crew chief's devotion to Hartmann, 39-40, 71- ff., of, victory, compared reer of, of, and 116; 72, German 119-33 passim; sur175-90; USAAF Mustangs to, mann 140, 141, 142; postwar ca271-72; searches for Hart- after he is Luganskii, S. D., 132 Miethig, Rudolf, 103 MIG-3 (World War I., MIG-15 115, 98, Diamonds 158, 211; posthumous award to, 142 Marx, Karl, 192 Psychology The Fascism, of Maykop, 32, 33, 34, 50 Me- 109 (World War II German name of, ability of, 161-74; per111-12, 120, 130, 161, 170; and Soviet aircraft compared, 105, 120, 130; surrender and destruction of, 178-79; training in, 146; weather and flying ability of, 79-81, 108 ff.; as work horse in emergencies, 111-12 Me-iogD (World War II German plane), Me-262 (World War II German 115 of, 59-60 Molotov, V. M., 250 Morgunov, S., 132 Mosquito fighter-bombers, 157, 318 Mossokv, M., 131 Miincheberg, Joachim, 108, 298; a lead- 161-74, 176, 317; Hartmann and Luftwaffe in combat with, 161-74 My Air Combats (Fonck), 126 National Committee, 198 NATO, 96, 272, 276, 278, 281-82, 284; Hartmann sentative of, as West Germany's repreon Standing Committee 284 Nazism (Nazis), 182, 189-90, 197-98, 206, 215, 252. See also Germany; specific individuals Nellis AFB, 276 Neukuhren, 28 Nikolaev, 60 29 n (World 142; Swords decoration awarded to, Neubistritz prisoner-of-war camp, 191-92 plane), 29 Me-i09E4 to, 314; and combat USAAF Mustangs, formance Werner ("Daddy"), 27, 62, Diamonds awarded 135, 180; 131, single- engined fighter plane), 29, 32-47, 48 ff., 65 ff., 84, 128-30; Bf-109 as with Moelders, ing ace with 135 victories, 298 Mustangs (USAAF P-51's), 108, 109, (Reich), 190 official jets, 124, 134 General, 209 Mohne Dam, bombing 95, Russian fighter Mineral'nyye, 49 Model, General, 117 prisoner-of-war camp, 193 Mariupol, 32, 33 Marseille, Hans-Joachim, Mass Miller, James, 273 Maramures II plane), 121, 128-30, 134; increase in production of, 134 132 MacArthur, Douglas, quoted, 1 Mahurin, Walker M. ("Bud"), 218 Mail, prisoners of war and, 205-8, 21718, 219, 224, 226-27 Makharov, V. N., 133 Mangum, downed, 71-72, 75-76 Luke AFB, Phoenix, Arizona, 272, 27476 S. surrender, 177, 178-79; and Hartmann's 300th and, 161-74 Lukyanov, 148, 157-60 Merschat, Second Lieutenant, 32, 37 Mertens, Heinz ("Bimmel"), 39-40, 59, 36 n, 55; pilot training in, 28-30, 35, 42-47, 146; records of tops and firsts by, 295; Russian Air Force render Commando, 203, 212-13; Test (June 1941) by, 280; downed aircraft claims confirmation procedures, War II German fighter plane), 51, 52, 148, jet 157-60, Nikopol, 88 90th U.S. Infantry Division, 180-81 INDEX 329 9th Squadron 107 ff., of, 62 NKVD, (JG-52, Luftwaffe), 102, Hartmann given command 181-82 Cub Piper planes, xv, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13, 190, 280-81, 198-208, 209-23, 224-37, 259; and war crime of war, 250, ff., charges, 178, 180, 183 Pivovarov, M. Y., 132 Ploesti oil fields, allied I. ("Sacha"), 91, 132, Politburo, 201 Popkov, V. 124 Novocherkassk prisoner-of-war camp, Portz 2, 198, 247, 250, 256 Nowotny, Walter, 115; Diamonds decoawarded to, 142; raises air combat record to 250 victories, 135ration Oak Leaves to Knight's Prisoners of war, Russian treatment of, 182-90, 191-208, 209-23, 224-37, 2 38— 54; brainwashing of, 218-23, 224-37, 263, 264-65; Geneva Convention and, 238 ff.; psychology after release of, 263-65; re1-8, Obleser, Friedrich Cross awards, 298 104-6, 10, 92, lease ("Fritz"), 87-88; an ace with 120 victories, 94, 103 Oesau, Walter ("Guile"), 108, 115, 135; a leading ace with victories, 123 air combat 202-3, criminal 217, 221, 189, 190, NKVD 219, 220, 202; and, 210, 221 Proskurov, 92 Pueblo, U.S.S., 218 n 123 317 Puis, Lieutenant, 66 Punishment of war Ostrowiez, 139 War war 255-68; against, 224-37, 2 3 8 ~54 Prokhladnyy, 40 Propaganda (propagandists), Oldenburg, 276-77 (World of, charges 135 OSSOVIAKIM, 132 44> 2 47 Prague, 171 215 trials, I., Wahn, 286 Prager, Lieutenant-Colonel, 202-3, 2 43~ 36 P-2's 135, 134; biography and career as Russian ace of, 125-31 125-31, North Korean Air Division, Russians and, Orel, of, Pokryshev, P. A., 133 Pokryshkin, Alexander 224-37 NATO bombings 161, 162 North Atlantic Treaty Organization. See Nuremberg 272-73 Pisek, 317; brainwashing techniques used by, 218-23, 224-37; and prisoners 238 Pilsen, II Russian reconnais- prisoners, NKVD and, 204-5, 210-11, 215-16, 217, sance planes), 89, 139, 171 (Lightnings) (USAAF fighter 22 5> 2 3 2 "37> 2 3 8 "54 P-38's plane, P-39's World War (Airacobras), 73> 3ii P-47's (Thunderbolts, II), 57-58, RAF, 316 139, 171- tles, USAAF), 99, 320 P-51's (Mustangs), 161-74, 176 Paetsch, Mr. and Mrs., 25 Paetsch, Ursula. See Hartmann, Ursula Panitzki, General, 285-86 Partisans, Russian, 27, 59-60, 95, 96, 119, 120, 121, (see also specific bat- 123, 157-58 World War II, 145 Paulus, Field Marshal von, 198 Pavlushkin, N. S., 132 Rail, individuals, planes) Guenther, 52-53, 61-62, 70, 87, 95, 108, 111, 112, 124, described and praised by 98-100; flies 89; a leading ace with Phoenix, Arizona, 272, 274-76 wounded, 135 Wilhelm, 198 I. M., 132 victories, to, 115; and Air Force, 266-67; 115; Swords decoration West German Pilipenko, 275 94, 98, 103, 135, 136; reaches 200 victories, 78; reaches 250 victories, Peat-digging, prisoners of war and, 195 Pieck, 129, 270; Hartmann, with Hartmann, 88- Rape, World many War II surrender of Ger- and, 181, 183-90 THE BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY 33° Rata War (World planes Russian II 121 fighter planes), Recce, defined, 72 n, 318 Rechkalov, G. A., 132, 134 and, 219-20 II World War Refugees, II treatment of, 178, 181, 182-90 Reich, Wilhelm, 190 Reich Defense, 110, 111, 135, 145-46 war and, 6 4, Richthofen, Manfred von, 11, 62, 135, 171-73, 176; and German prisoners, 200; der, and German surren- 175-76, 180; Hartmann's fame with, 78-93; pilot training in, preparedness 31; Regensburg, Germany, 183 Religion, prisoners of USAAF 1941), 280; dogfights with allies by, Red Air Force. See Russian Air Force Red Army. See Russian Army Red Cross, prisoners of war in World War combat tactics of, 129-30; destruction on ground by Luftwaffe (June and 130— ability of, 119-33, 134; reorganization of, 121 Russian Army, World War II, 49, 64, 92, 108 ff., 156; and surrender and treatment of German prisoners, 181-90, 191-208, 209 Russian Front, World War 246 ff., II. See East- (Russian) Front ern German 2 77 Russian Wing, West German Air Force, 13, 98, 277-86 war and, 216, 219-21, 244, 245, 248 Ryazanov, A. K., 132 Richthofen Rickenbacker, Eddie, quoted, 148 Riele, Arthur, 195 Germany and World War II, development of, 105 Roman, Rumania, 109-10, 113, 114, Rockets, 165 Rommel, Erwin, 117 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 182 villagers, Schall, Franz, 103 Schmidt, Heinz, 103 Schnaufer, Heinz- Wolfgang, 117 n Schoerner, General, 117 Rossbach, Alfred, 151-52, 154 Schongau, 156 Schumann man to, 142; Ilartmann wing- as 39-44, 47, 48, 49, 51, 54, Rostov, 245, 246, 257 Rottweil School, 22-23, 2 7 Royal Air Force, British. See RAF Rudel, 144, Hans-Ulrich, 64, 66, 268; quoted on war, 78 Ruhr, World War II, allied bombings of, Rumanian Communists, Maramures camp run by, 193 Rumanian Front, World War combat 161-74 on, (Soviet 10 9 81-83, Union; aerial II ^ » U.S.S.R.) lx 4> See Russian Air Force; Russian Army; Union Russian Air Force, 48 1 ff., 34 ff . hemia, 182-83 Schwarm, defined, 314 SD, 190 "See - Decide - Attack - Break," Hart- mann air tactics, 46-47, 54, 61, 84 Seidemann, General, 6-7, 177-78, 199 n Semyonov, Lieutenant, 128 Sergeants, flying, Luftwaffe, 38, 50-51 Sevastopol, 161 57-58, 78 ff., 87, 91-93, Sexual excesses, prison Soviet (Stalingrad war judge), 201 Schuttenhofen prisoner-of-war camp, Bo- 7th Squadron, Luftwaffe, 37-47, 48-77, 59-60 Russia of Sachsenberg, Heinz, 103 Sandowiez, 139 Rossmann, Eduard "Paule," 39-44, 47, 48, 49, 51, 54, 56, 101; captured by Russians, prisoners 108 ff. World War II prisoners war and, 181, 183-90 Seydlitz, General von, 198 Shakhty prison camp, 2, 215; of revolt in, 238-54 Shaw, George Bernard, quoted, 2, 6, 175, 238 World War 62, (see also Eastern Front; specific planes); aces of, II, noff., (Russian) battles, 89, 40-47, 119-33, 91, pilots, 119-33; Sighet, 193 Simpfendorfer (Hartmann's school- teacher), 267 16th U.S. Armored Division, 181 Skomorokhov, N. M., 132 INDEX Snap-roll aerial maneuver, 129 Swords (Schwertern) 115-18, 298 Sokolov (Russian fighter pilot), 127 Sytov, Slavyanskaya, 50 decoration, 10, N., 132 I. Soldatskaya, 37 Sommer, Captain, 50 T-33 Souvenir wristwatches, 181 Tactics, air Soviet Union Air NKVD; Russian Russian Army; specific (see also Force; locations); individuals, battles, pilots, craft, 119-33 (see Force); and achievements, also Russian German World War air- and Air surrender, 175-90; postwar, II, 97-98, 175-90, 191 ff., 255 ff.; and prisoner-of-war camps, 1 ff., 182- 191-208; and release of Hart- 90, mann, 255-57 Space race, U.S. and Russian, 119-20 Spanish Civil War, 27, 313. Spitfires, 97, 108 Squadron of Experts, JV-44, 157, 1 58— 60 Joseph, 182; letter of appeal Stalin, Hartmann's behalf Stalingrad, to, on 249-50, 255 German World War II at- Hartmann (see also on, Gunnery); 127-28, 173-74, 284-85 (see also under Hartmann, Erich); Pokryshkin's, 126-31 Taman Kuban, 50, 51. See also Kuban Teheran Conference, 182, 215 Tempelhof, Colonel von, 202-3 Third Army, U.S., 181 274-75, III/JG-52, 36 ff, 50, 52, 92, 95, 107 ff, 109 ff. See also JG-52 Thunderbolts (USAAF P^'s), 99, 320 Timoshevskaya, 50 Raymond, 274 Toliver, NKVD use on prisoners of war, 210-11 Toynbee, Arnold, quoted, 104 Torture, Trenkel, Rudolf, 103 Treppe, First Lieutenant, 44-45, 46 Trotsky, Leon, 209 20th U.S. Tactical Fighter Wing, 274 tacks on, 33 Stalin 274 combat jet, Hawks, 119-33, 3*9 Ulbricht, Walter, 198 Steinbatz, Leopold, 103 ("Macky"), 27, 51, 95, 96, 97, 103, 159; and West Steinhoff, Johannes 52, Germany Air Force, 266, 267, 282, 284 Stool pigeons, 198, 203, 216, 217, 222, 244 Storch (plane), 83-84, 154, 272 Stormoviks (Russian AF World War bombers), 44-46, 8 9~93> 97» 112 H4~ l6 > mann's combat 66 ff., 89-93; increase Strakonitz, 177 Stuka dive bombers, Stukatcha, 203, 38 n, 99, cations, 3 J 5; H^- 134 32-33, 64, 66, 69 See also Stool pigeons 7, 106-7, 1 5°» 1 51 » Russian treatment of prisoners and, 186, 225, German 230 157-58, pilots, planes); bombings 171-74, 176; and Eastern Front Red Air Force war, 161-74; and compared 124; (World War West Germany II), 123, Air Force and, 272-76, 282-86 United States Army, 102-3, 181; and Ardennes offensive, 153-54; and German 152, 155, 258, 259, 264 Suicides, 121, 108, 109, 112, 135, 14546, 157, 161-74; and dogfights with Russian Air Force allies, World War II, 217. Germany, 120, by, 105, air Sturm, Heinrich, 103 Stuttgart, 119, ff., against, in, war (see also specific battles, lo- II 66 > prisoners of II and, 117-20, 127 United States Army Air Force (USAAF), 161-74 61, tactics man World War 239; and Lend-Lease program, 134, 171; Russian air achievements I. N., 132 Second Lieutenant, 32, 37 dive United States (see also United States Air Force, United States Army); Gerin, Stepanenko, Stiebler, Uman, 92 surrender, 102-3, 178-84; servicemen as prisoners of war, 218*9> 2 39 THE BLOND KNIGHfT OF* GERMANY 332 United States Army Air Corps, 38 n. See also United States Army Air Force Uvarov, Captain, 202-4 7, 222, 232, 236, 255; Air Force, 266-68, 269-87; and release of prisoners of war, 255-68 Wiese, Johannes ("Kubanski Lion"), 911, 93; an ace with 133 victories, 9-11, 94, 103; career of, 97-98 Woerner, Helmut, 259, 260 Woidich, Franz, 103 Van Camp, Colonel, 202-3 Van de Kamp, Will, 11-12, 156 Vertical air maneuvering, 129 Vienna, 192-93 Vietnam War, 239 der Schulenburg, Sigi Graf, 252-53, Wolf, Colonel, 202-3 243-44, 247 Wolf, Second Lieutenant, 32, 37 Wolf rum, Walter, 94, 101-2, 103 278 Women Vlasov, General, 180 Von many), prisoners, German treatment by Russians Vorozheikin, A. V., 132 surrender and of, 178, 181- 90 Wahn Wristwatches, Air Base, 99 Waldmann, Hans, 103 War crimes charges, 202-3, venirs, 217, 238; crating effectiveness and, World War YAK fighter planes, 66, 1 7 1 "73» sou- 82-83, 134, 161, ^S-l 6 YAK-9 (World War II Russian fighter plane), 66 Yevstigneev, K. A., 132 79-81 Wehnelt, Herbert, 277 n Weil im Schonbuch, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 155; Hartmann's return after Russian imprisonment to, 260-68 Zaporozhe, 88 Zarnesti, 110, 112 Zelenkin, M. M., Zerbst, 29, 132 30 110, 112, 162 Wester, Lieutenant, 66, 81-82, 162 Zilistia, Western Front, 105, 123. See Zogling 38 (glider), 19 also Allies West Germany (Federal Republic II 221, Geneva Convention and, 238; release of prisoners, 25568; Shakhty revolt and, 238-54 Warsaw, Poland, 136 Weather, World War II air combat op224-37, as 181 of Ger- Zwernemann, Josef, 49, 52, 103 Notes BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY blondknightofgerOOtoli t blondknightofgerOOtoli blondknightofgerOOtoli of** Boston Public Library COPLEY SQUARE ARY The DateT5ue^af^iHBITpocket indi- cates the date on or before which this book should be returned to thf Please do not remove cards pocket. ibrary. ; i s BLOND KNIGHT OF GERMANY RAYMOND TREVOR F. J. TOLIVER AND CONSTABLE The fascinating biography of the most successful fighter ace the history of aerial warfareErich Hartmann whose 352 victories amounted to more than six times those of the top U.S. ace! in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. 17214 Send for FREE TAB Catalog describing over 750 current ISBN titles in print. D-fllbfl-Mlflfl-fl )