SUICIDE WING 

Rammkommando "ELBE"

The Last operation of LUFTWAFFE  

 

by Angelos Thalassinos translated from Greek by Ioannis Mansolas

ON APRIL THE 7TH 1945 THE LAST MESSERSCMITT-109K OF LUFTWAFFE TOOK OFF TO TAKE PART TO THE FIRST AND LAST SUICIDE MISSION OF THE GERMAN AVIATION . THIS OPERATION WAS NAMED 'WEREWOLF' . IT REMAINED THE MOST UNKNOWN OPERATION EVER DESIGNED BY THE GERMAN HIGH COMMAND . THE HISTORIC BOOKS WOULD ONLY REFER TO IT WITH VAGUELY . FROM THE 120 KILLED PILOTS ONLY FEW BECAME KNOWN TO KEEP AS SECRET AS POSSIBLE SUCH AN ACT WHILE THE FEW WHO SURVIVED TRIED TO AVOID THESE  BITTER MEMORIES . THE MAN WHO COMMANDED THE OPERATION A HIGHLY DECORATED BOMBER PILOT WILL ALMOST FORGET IT IN HIS MEMOIRS . IT MIGHT BE THAT HIS MIND IS STILL PUZZLED BY THIS QUESTION : ' IS THE DEEP DEVOTION TO ONES COUNTRY ABLE TO JUSTIFY THE USELESS LOSS OF THESE 120 YOUNG PILOTS ? ' 

   

    THE COURT MARSHALL 

    DESPERATE MEASURES 

    " ...THE CHANCES OF YOUR RETURN ARE VERY MINIMAL ..." 

    OPERATION 'WEREWULF' 

    THE ATTACK 

    A BITTER RESULT 

    THE UNKNOWN STORY

    46 YEARS LATER 

  


The semi-torn apart Me 109 was moaning and trembling on its deep dive at 740 Kmh as if refusing to take part in this nonsense . In the cockpit the 19 year old pilot sergeant Claus Hahnn was living his last 24 seconds of his life in a hell of fire created by the plane thirsty American guns while the bullets were rattling on the Messerscmitt's metal skin . He , covered all over with blood was just filling his smashed left arm while his cockpit was practically a big whole

From the very moment he took off from his aerodrome with another 3 colleagues his engine was constantly in a problem .  It was obvious he could not keep pace with the others and he doubted whether he could arrive to his destination . His squadron leader approached him gesturing violently from his cockpit but Claus did not make anything out of it . Anyway if he meant to tell him to return back , this would have been impossible .  The accusation for cowardness would follow him for ever ; besides it was his own decision to take part in this mission  . His leader finally waved his hand as if saluting him and followed the others leaving Claus alone to his own fate . In few moments although he was lost he located 4 fighters on a same track as he . Maybe they knew where the enemy was ... 

Indeed ... they knew  , as they were 4 American Mustangs , the lonely Me109 was found among 4 enemy planes ! The first shots hit the cockpit and smashed Claus left arm damaging his instruments as well . The little debris of glass hit the face of the young pilot bleeding him all over as if Thor was pounding hardly on him ! The German plane went down in flames while the Mustangs did not care to spent any more time on him . Claus felt desperate and humiliated but his anger turned into decisiveness when about 15000 feet below he saw a formation of Flying Fortresses . If only he could stay alive some more minutes ...!

Using the last resorts of his power holding firmly the control stick between his knees he used his only hand to adjust the speed and flaps . The controls were already very stiff while the speed was building up but he managed to slow down . The feeling of danger is acting as a kind of cure these strange moments .  Five minutes ago Claus was a scared young guy lost in the skies but now despite his crippling he became angry , desperate to make a kill on the enemy . There was only one thing in his mind , to destroy this B-17 some 2 miles ahead !  At last his last 20 seconds had some meaning and he would not care for all the bullets dancing around him . He was aiming on the large figure of the B-17 watching it growing larger and larger while his speed indicator started shaking near its limits . The shrieking of the swarming 109 against the tail of the B-17 would cover any other noise around ...then a wide big flame burst ...then nothing else 


 

 

THE COURT MARSHALL 

The only result of this meeting at the Luftwaffe HQ in November 1944 was to intensify the despair of Vice-Air-Marshall Adolf Galland , Head of the Fighter Command . Despite his grade and role he would rather have wished never to be there . He knew his presence could  never influence the situation , he knew Goering had decided his replacement and he was really trying not to open the door and simply go away . The Field-Marshall considered the fighters as the main factor to bear all the guilt for Luftwaffe's bad shape . Having lost confidence to them he laid all his hopes on the bombers to '...increase the fighting spirit ..'  appointing as always the incorrect people to the incorrect posts . Despite having himself ordered this meeting Goering was not present , he was replaced on purpose by a young brigadier named  Dietrich Peltz the Head of the Bomber Command ever since 1942 and presently holding the post of  the Air Defense Command of the 3rd Reich - he was now the chairman of this meeting ...and for a reason .... 

 

Adolf  Galland

The 'Barons' of the Bomber Command have been waiting for a long such a moment . The German factories have stopped long time ago producing any bombers and all their personnel was sent to manufacture fighters . This was simply an insult to them , to their patriotism and their ..egoism as well , as if they were unable to offer something to their country . Additionally they were fed up with the fighter high officers getting all the high posts ...they were just waiting for such a moment . This gathering of the 'high brass' all around was to decide once and for all the fate of their country in a kind of a 'big trial' , the bombardiers accusing the fighter pilots for the fate of the war in the air . One of the participants was the wind commander Hans-Joachim Hermann  , nicknamed 'Hajo Hermann' , a highly decorated bombardier who started his career in the Spanish Civil war - like Galland - honored with the Knits Cross in October 1940 . In the next 2 years 'Hajo' scored many victories against the allied convoys and now at his early 30s he was on a high post , high enough so as to meet the 'right people' . There he tried to identify methods for hitting the RAF bombers at a period when their radar had made them very effective . Hermann could only propose one thing ....

 

Using a huge number of large power spot lights he illuminated all his cities and sent his single sit fighters to patrol at high altitude . These fighters had no night fighter possibilities and this abnormal night lighting was most welcomed ! The bombers would anyway through their bombs on the cities so this situation  was actually for the benefit of the fighters . It was not to become a panacea of course but it was the only solution for the Germans at the moment . This experiment did give its fruits until August and October 1943 by which time Hermann  was already a hero as in one night he himself had shot down 9 RAF bombers . But by the winter of 1944 the poor visibility conditions worked against the defenders who were rather blinded and lost within the clouds facing even the threat of many accidents . Hajios tactics were no longer enough . In the mean time the German scientists tried with some success to produce radio interference to the RAF navigation devices and all these night fighters came back to their day light role 

 

What the Fighter Command could offer now to balance the situation ? Galland heard for the second time a plan talking about 1500 young suicide pilots ! He was not shocked as Hermann was proposing again this plan but he firmly believed it was a useless loss of lives producing mediocre results . Besides if the German fighters can break the protective chain of the Mustangs and get so close to the B-17s they could also use their own guns to hit them successfully , the pilots did not have to die , they rather had to survive 

Galland had rejected the idea in the past but Hermann was trying again , he had visited already Galland trying to convince him . But Galland was very firm to his negation , especially as this was coming from a man like Hajo a rather romantic and emotional character with poor knowledge of the fighter methods  . he asked this question to Hajo :

- " ..and where are you going to be at the moment the young pilots will be getting killed in this vain operation ? " 

- " On the ground guiding them  " ,,,he replied 

- " Then come back again , after you yourself have tried to guide them into this kind of  battle " , Galland replied 

Hajo had then decided that it was time to make Galland feel sorry for these words . Peltz was his personal friend , an old commarade in arms and a man very close to the Field-Marshall , so close so as to really impose his ideas to him . It was under the protection of the Chief of the Luftwaffe that this meeting was held , actually in the very same villa of Goering and under the spiritual guidance of Hajo Hermann .

  DESPERATE MEASURES

Goring  had common points with the young bomber ace . He believed that at war full attachment to the tactic rules was a disadvantage rather . His WW1 experience were telling him that high moral and audacious personalities were the only ones to decide the fate of the nation . This is why the proposal of the young commander was appealing to him . Hajo said  :

" Contemporary fighters are in no position to cause important damage to the enemy . We are losing about 200 pilots a month without achieving anything . Our only hope is the jet fighter Me 262 production but until this plane would be available in  numbers , we  have to find the way to inflict heavy casualties to the enemy so as that he will decrease the frequency of his raids while we , on the other hand , will gain the time needed for its production . A massive number of fighters manned by young and not experienced pilots could be used to such a final but decisive attack against the USAAF . We risk of course to have the casualties of 2 months just in one day's operation , however , the blow to the enemy would be serious enough " 

Goering was listening to Hajo cast in deep thoughts and initially looked rather hesitant . He was rather shocked by the expressions like : "final...decisive ...massive " . He replied : " I do not know if we could really gather the number of pilots requested willing to participate in such a mission . Further more , how could I ask them to risk their lives in such an attempt ? "

Hajo confronted him with a high level of self confidence : " Field-Marshall , I know very well the courage and decisiveness of even the youngest of the Luftwaffe pilots and I remain confident that such men , given the proper chance would appear immediately as volunteers if they were to repulse the bomber threat from our skies . Germans have now realised that they fight for their very homes and families  " . No doubt Hajo was dead sure for his words . In the contrary case he would have to stand a nightmare for the rest of his life !

The dilemma was an important one . If Goering approved such a suicide mission it would have meant as well that he did realise  that the war was about to be lost . He did needed however a way out of his own despairs . Hitler was pounding often against the inability of Luftwaffe to alter the situation in the skies . Goering was fighting  for his own face as well as his post on the 3rd Reich hierarchy  ! That lead him to the decision to bring further this proposal to the Upper Command in the next few days 

 

It was expected that this decision would create a strong reaction . The ramming technique proposed was not a novelty to pilots . Many have tried it but only due to the temper of the moment , not as a standard practise . Such acts are just personal decisions under high strain but not the result of a guided strategy , if only for people of the West where the individual life does mean something . There were many doubts even for the response of volunteers even if everybody knew the despair of Germany . Hitler , however , was the one to decide ! In February 1945 the reply was positive to the attempt but could hardly hide the fact that the war was or is about to be lost :

" I would never ask for such a sacrifice from any German . However , in the event of a large number of volunteers appearing , then I'll reconsider and approve this plan ..." 

" ...THE CHANCES OF YOUR RETURN ARE VERY MINIMAL ..." 

Reaction went on even after the decision made by Hitler but Hermann had the 'go' for starting the planning and getting ready to welcome the volunteers . he had to choose between the young fighter pilots  who were just out of the flying schools and had some 50 hours of flying experience . However  any pilot who already had some distinction was to be excluded because otherwise everyone would admit the seriousness of a situation were the heroes are sent to their own death ! Hermann was not supposed to hide anything from these pilots but the very details had to stay unknown until the starting day and then only each pilot would have to choose without any further consequences on his decision .  Hermann asked Goering to sign the call for volunteers and then visit them himself to thank them for their offer . Goering said yes to the first and rejected the second . It was , however , obvious why ...The ever arrogant Field-Marshall had no courage to look straight in the eyes these young men whose life was now necessary having he and the other high ranking nazis lost the war for them . The official order was sent to the Wing Commanders at 1530 on Thursday the 8th of March 1945 . The order was classified under the indication : 'Top Secret , to be destroyed after reception' . There is only one copy that did survive however to our days !

A picture of Goering around 1930

The WW1 pilot , successor of Baron Richthofen , who believed more in 'attitude' than tactics . He is responsible for the loss of the Battle of Britain and partly for the failure in Stalingrad 

" The final fight for the Reich , its people and our country has reached a pick . Almost all nations are thrown their forces on us ready to destroy us and annihilate us by the blindest of hatred . We are using are last forces to avoid this from happening . Never before in the history of our country we face a defeat after which there will be no chance for revival . This danger may be avoided only by the full readiness and high fighting spirit of the Germans . We appeal to you now and at such a moment we ask you to sacrifice your lives to save your nation from perishing for ever . That is why I ask you to take part in such a mission where the chances for your return are minimal . Commarades , you will be highly placed to the history of our Air Force , next to its most valiant soldiers . At the time of the highest danger you will become the hope and the pride of the German people "

                                                                                                                                        signed : Goering

The sorrow and bitterness of the veteran unit commanders and those who had to announce it to their pilots can not be easily described . Who could have been the sick mind  who conceived such a crime ? Who was this man without feelings who converts the loyalty to ones country into such a  sacrifice as if these pilots were expendable material . And ...these commanders ...who had to teach them everything they knew to help them survive to fight another day , they had to tell them that their death is now required ? What happened though was above any possible expectation ! 2000 volunteers ! Never before in any western country history . These young pilots really did not care about their lives even so close a time to the end of Reich 

These volunteers came not only from the training units but from air worthy and experienced units like the JG1 who was the main night fighter unit ever since 1943 ! The wings JG300 and JG301 joined with all hands ! From the JG400 equipped with the jet Me 163 there were 8 volunteers . From the training units the offer was of an equal level , one nephew of Goering between them as well 

This however imposed unexpected difficulties ! many of them were experience pilots and others were discovered to have forged their papers so as to be accepted ! One of them was carrying the Knight's  Cross who reacted violently for his rejection to Hermann himself ! On his turn , he asked Goering to take away any restrictions for the acceptance of the volunteers . What was motivating these people will never be known but a war has its own ways of influencing people . April of 1945 was a particularly heavy month for the Germans . They were losing all hope for surviving as the war have destroyed all they have loved around . These were simply ruined people full of despair .  Many of those on leave would not visit their homes as they were not able to face the misery of their destroyed homes  , others have lost their beloved ones , they were no longer 'normal' people in any sense . For them the war has become a 'home' , a home that USAAF was not able to destroy . Many of the volunteers joined in small groups of friends having decided to die together - a term their superiors  had to respect 

 

But now the problem was to find an equally high number of planes ! Hermann initially asked some 1500 , at a moment when the entire Luftwaffe was using just 800 in all fronts ! He was given 180 despite his fervent reaction for more .  It was however decided that more   missions may be soon approved . On the 24th the selected volunteers were moved to the base of Stendhal where Hermann explained the plan : 2 weeks of training and then a massive suicide attack  on the American bombers . The types of planes to be used were the 'older' ones like the Me109G-10 , G-14 and the K-4 . The defensive armament was to be removed to increase the speed . Some Me262 and FW-109 formations were to protect them up to the contact point . Hermann concluded his speech by underlining that the chances of survival were estimated around 10% . Then he asked those who were willing to quit to do so ....There were none !

The mission did not had the outside characteristics of a suicide one as pilots were supposed to quit their plane on time and thus stay alive . Hermann proposed the following : the fighters were supposed to stay very higher than the bombers and then dive at high speed to their tail exposed  only to the 2 rear guns and then would try to cut with their propeller the bombers control surfaces . This would condemn both aircraft certainly but not the crews 

 

Hajo Hermann

The man of the moment ! He conceived the whole suicidal plan and proposed it to Goering . The numerous respond to his call proved the plan 'reasonable' at this very crucial moment but he , as many others , preferred to forget it for ever later !

 

OPERATION 'WEREWULF' 

 

The final preparation was coming while the dates were succeeding . The suicide unit was divided in 3 wings of 60 aircraft each under the name " Special Command Elba " (Sonderkommando Elbe) due to the neighbouring river who at that time was the final frontier before Berlin . As for the operation name the term «Rammkommando Elbe» was given due to the method ( ramming ) used  . The name 'Werewulf' became also known later  . The modifications demanded for the removal of extra equipment and weight was a time consuming job and under the pressure of the times they did not apply to all the machines .  Many kept as well the markings of their initial units . Pilot followed a series of lectures of 'ideological context' and on the 4th of April , Peltz himself urged for the expedition of the operation as any delay was against the moral . On the 6th they all left their picture behind having received the promise of Goering for a separate honorary tomb monument for them . 

Although there is a tendency to focus on the heroes themselves , their commanders are also important personalities in this operation . The Rammkommando was the major Otto Koehnke a personal friend to Hermann ever since 1940 . He won fame on the russian front when he destroyed alone 12 supply trains and was awarded the Knight's Cross . After a heavy wound he had lost his foot and was removed from active duty . His command was an act of recognition by Hermann . But ....the whole operation was thus finally commanded by  Hermann , an officer ignorant of the fighter techniques and an invalidated officer , Koehnke , who would not even fly an aircraft together with his men . The seeds of failure were already there . The German werewulf did not needed a silver bullet to be killed

 

 

  THE ATTACK 

  The attack was carried against the mission No 931 of the USAAF , Saturday , April the 7th and was consisted of 1260 bombers on a typical raid over Elbe without essential flak opposition with the only threat the some 50 German jets Me262 in the area who had to face the 780 American Mustangs and Thunderbolts protecting the bombers . There was only one particular thing about them . They were flying low : At about 4000 meters height ! No one would normally dare to stay below the 7000 meters ! 

At 1100 while the bombers were crossing the coast of Holland , Hermann gave the order to 'Stand-By' . The situation was however less impressive : there was not enough fuel for all , the modifications were still insufficient , some planes were not yet at the base ..etc. Finally only 120 fighters took-off . Hermann was outraged ! 120 planes were not enough against some 2000 enemy planes . But ...the dice was cast ...These pilots decided to die , Hermann could not disappoint them now ! Some pilots were still not aware of their fate or  if they would take part . Two friends , Fritz and Armin , pilots who decided to die together were puzzled , as the first was standing-by in its cockpit and the other did know if a plane would be available to him . At 1115 the signal was given !

 

It was a cloudy and rather cold Saturday . While the pilots were climbing to higher altitude and gain advantage the temperature was decreasing rapidly and the mood as well as the controls were becoming stiff . Strange enough , the pilots discovered that their radios were still there but ...only the receiving part was working ! At 1200 the radio silence was broken by a flamboyant feminine voice delivering a patriotic speech on the occasion ! A chorus was following with the national anthem . Only the despair of the Reich could explain such a miserable and indignant treatment for these fighter pilots on the way to their fate .  At this time the bomber formations were extending on some 107 Km and were to meet the first fighters of Hajo . But this was the time he did his last mistake : Instead of concentrating all his power to one formation decided to divide it in two parts against his initial plan . The escorting 59  Me262s and many of the FW-109 from JG300 and 301 were already heading to join the others while some of the younger pilots were losing their way in the clouds . This is how the first attack was scattered without the Americans attempting anything , some pilots never met the bombers and few others quit their planes just upon meeting the defensive lines of the Mustangs and others were just shattered by their effective fire . The Germans had the advantage of the height but their contrails were clearly observable by the Mustangs who attacked them before even the suicide attack could develop . The first 2 Me109 were shot down within seconds . The lieutenant Ayers  sent all his fire against the first German fighter some 400 m ahead killing the pilot . 2 other Me109 penetrated the Mustang fence but captain McGraw , released automatically their tanks and lighter than before made a close turn and followed them from behind . In few seconds McGraw was shooting down one Me109 . The other one however pilot sergeant Gerhard Bohnke , rammed one bomber and had the time to bail out . 

Then the Americans saw the escorting Me262s . To them this was the main enemy force . The jets appeared at 10.000 m , dived rapidly against the bombers using an old trick , by letting 2-3 Mustangs to approach and then by just accelerating the last moment would leave them far away up while they were attacking the bombers . It was then that the Rammkommando Elbe appeared .. 15 Me109Ks approached some Liberators and started opening fire the classic way a fighter pilot would do to disorganise them . Then the Americans signaled an important block of fighters attacking . The German group leader was chasing the tail of a liberator while a Mustang was aiming at his rear . The Me109K continued its approached , the rear gunners started the fire and the Mustang had to turn away . Then a second Me109K coming behind unnoticed penetrating the fighters , rammed the wing of the Liberator . It was the first ramming of the Elbe !

 

It took some moments for the Americans to understand that this attack was a special one as the Germans have decided to reach the bombers at all cost . Sergeant Heinrich Rosner) was one of them . He was purely a pilot just out of the school and this was actually his very first mission ! He attacked without any hesitation the Liberator of Colonel John Herboth of the 389 Bomber Group and rammed in the middle detaching entirely the rear part  .  The Americans remained speechless . Herboth tried to keep up the controls but the heavy bomber started a down spin falling against the one of Lt Colonel  Êunkel . 2 aircraft went down while Rosner could escape from his cockpit having scored a double kill ! 

 

At 1230 a new battle field was developing above the town Zelle near Hanover where the bombers were actually going . The second Elbe wave attacked with more versatility and anger . One Me109K was fired by both a Mustang and a Liberator ...at no avail ! It finally rammed the bomber lost in a ball of fire the Mustang just escaping the explosion behind . Another 3 bombers were lost in a similar way . The Americans tried to resist ...but ...on a  new frontal attack this time by a Me109K , 12 guns are pounding fiercely , the Me109K is full of holes but does penetrate the American cockpit  head on ....The bomber looks like a huge fish with an open mouth while it falls down . But this could not continue as the unarmed Me109K became an easier pray , broke into formations of 10-15 planes losing their grouping and thus becoming less threat to the huge American formations . Few German pilots , like the sergeant major Eb. Proeck and the 23 year old Rud. Hedwig fell with their parachutes after having rammed 2 bombers but were soon gunned down dead by the Americans . The sergeant Werner Zell and his close friend Horst Siedel decided to die together lost contact as the radios were not transmitting . They waved to each other and threw themselves against the B-17s . Zell  did ram the bomber and bailed out reaching the ground alive despite the 19 bullet holes on his suit ! Siedel  did the same but ...his parachute never opened !  In the same area was also the Me109K of Claus Hahn - with whom we started this article . He too rammed a B-17 and then lost his senses to recover them a bit later already out of the cockpit and falling nicely under an open parachute . He was unable to explain what happened ! 

 

At 1245 the only still unbroken formations were only the bombers . Most of the german Elbe fighters after having tried their attempt were either returning for another one or were lost in the skies chased fiercely by the Mustangs . One of the germans pilots just dashed in the blind through the american fighters line , hit the wing tip of a B-17 and the 2 machines went down on a bizarre swiveling motion which brought the mass of the Me109K on the fuselage of another B-17 somewhere amidships . The Me109K never recovered from its falling but paradoxically the B-17 were still flying and able to return to base . However , now , the american pilots could distinguish those lonely Me109K who were the probable suicide attackers and were chasing them with ardor while the rear gunners would shoot just on anyone of them : ' ..better sure than dead ...' . lieutenant Harry Gosler was a Mustang pilot who pulverized with fire this bloody fighter in front of him ! He flew amidst its debris only to discover that the wing tip left from his victim had the shape of the one of a ...Mustang ! Crazy on the idea that he had shot down one of his own he 'camouflaged' his report by saying it was rather a Me109E ! The Me109E-type had a square wingtip like the Mustang but it belonged to a plane type the Germans were no longer using ! The report was confirmed by a B-17 gunners and he was credited with a confirmed kill . The only one never mentioned was the actual american pilot who was shot down ...dead have no words to say ....At least 1 B-17 and 3 Mustangs were lost by american fire in this confusion . At 1330 when the bombers reached their targets the Rammkommando Elbe ceased to exist . The american launched some 3450 tones of bombs and returned back . From the 120 german pilots only 15 returned . 

 

A BITTER RESULT 

   

At the moment when Hajo was sending his HQ reports full of success asking for a second similar mission ,  his 15 pilots were writing their own negative reports : " ...we consume the lives of our last pilots to some frenzy suicidal attacks " .  Hermann though was thinking of expending the rest 60 remained until he received a negative answer from his superiors . On the 20th , it was the 56th Hitler's birthday and Goering was there asking for an approval only to hear that he was no longer the head of Luftwaffe .....Nevertheless , these 60 pilots would die on another suicidal mission few days later . The true numbers of 'ramming hits' for the Rammkommando Elbe will never become known but it seems more appropriate to say that some 50 to 70 pilots died against some 25 B-17 hit but only 17 lost  and 5 American fighters downed . 50 German pilots survived bailing out on parachutes and some 40 others were shot down before even reaching the bombers . The next 30 days only few Me262 would threaten the bombers while all the rest non-jet planes were probably the ones that took part on this morning of the 7th of April . Still , the 'werewulf' pilot souls were wandering  around asking for the promised monument on a land that was no longer theirs . 

THE UNKNOWN STORY

 

The existing details for this operation today are either incomplete or diverging . Many facts have been suppressed  and we only know 50 of the pilot names . The main actors avoid any remembrance ....why should they recall such a time they decided to die yet missed the chance due to fate ! Hajo Hermann after 10 years in a soviet jail returned back to write his memoirs but he makes a very very short almost unnoticed mentioning of this operation . Just 3 years ago the first book on this mission was published but even there , its writer Adrian Weir he tries to keep in the dark the activities of Hermann , he conceals his confrontation with Galland and he rather tries to justify Hajo . It is , however , the only document with real testimonies of the few who survived half a century after the operation took place . Many of the unveiled truths came up fore the first time on an historical article and it is only thanks to them that the reader and historical analyser can identify the real picture of a dying Germany at a moment when the desperate officers decided to sacrifice their young pilots and whose lives wonted at the time less than a bomber shot down 

 

46 YEARS LATER 

   

The small group of some old people was found in front of the small Zelle forest  . The sorrow all over their face could not hide the vivid sparkling of pride that no younger one could have . Most of them on their 60-65s and some of them with many serious wounds on their bodies that could not help them to live a quiet retired life . But the harder wounds were not on their skins but those on their souls visible merely by those in the entourage . Only the voice of the man who was speaking would break the silence  : 

" ...despite the way they defended their homes these memory of those man should stay alive for having shared the common love for the Fatherland and their ancestors ....They do not ask to be considered as the  best of the air fighters who died on duty but as those whose braveness must be recognised taking place among all others who died on the same cause ..."

 

It was the voice of Karl-Heinrich Langspecht , next to him standing Claus Hahn and Heinrich Rosner . All commarades in the same unit facing now behind a small wooden fence a tomb stone decorated with some flowers  and a ribbon that carried the words : 

" To the memory of the fighter pilots of Rammkommando Elbe , 7th April 1945 and Sonderkommando Bienenstock , April-May 1945 "

The date was the April of 1991 . It took 46 years for these dead to be honored . Their souls were at last resting in some monument


References

 

1.       Adrian Weir “The Last Flight of the Luftwaffe”, Arms and Armour Press 1997

2.       David Irving “Goering: Eine Biographie”, Reinbeck bei Hamburg 1989

3.       Alfred Price “The Last Year of the Luftwaffe”, Arms and Armour Press 1991

4.       David Irving “Hitler´s War”, Macmillan 1977

5.       “Rise and Fall of the German Air Force 1933-1945”, St. Martin Press 1983

6.       William Green “Warplanes of the Third Reich”, Macdonald and Jane´s 1970

7.       Martin Caidin “Flying Forts”, Ballantine Books 1968

8.       Werner Girbig “Six months to oblivion”, Schiffer Military History 1991

9.       David Baker “Adolf Galland: The authorized biography”, Presidio Press 1997

10.   Herrmann Hajo “Eagle´s Wings”, Airlife 1991

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