Hajo Herrmann in January 1944
1 August 1913|
|Died||5 November 2010(aged 97)|
|Years of service||1935–45|
|Commands held||7./KG 4
|Awards||Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern|
|Relations||Ingeborg Reichelt (wife)|
Hans-Joachim "Hajo" Herrmann (1 August 1913 – 5 November 2010) was a Luftwaffe bomber pilot. After the end of World War II he focused his activities as a lawyer on civil and criminal law. In World War II, he was a high ranking and influential member of the Luftwaffe. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Military career in World War II
Herrmann was one of the Luftwaffe's most innovative air tacticians during World War II. Beginning his military career as an infantry officer, he was commissioned in the newly formed Luftwaffe in 1935. From 1936 until 1937, he was a bomber pilot in the Condor Legion. During the Spanish civil war, Herrmann joined KG-4, and wrote several well received tactical reports. When World War II began, he flew Heinkel He-111s in Poland and Norway. By 1940, he was Commander of the 7th Staffel of KG-4, and led many attacks on England during the Battle of Britain. In February 1941, his group went to Sicily, where it flew against Malta and Greece. In one such attack, Herrmann dropped a single bomb on an ammunition ship, the SS Clan Fraser; the resulting explosion sank 11 ships and made the Greek port of Piraeus unusable for many months. In early 1942, he was Commander of III./KG 30, attacking Arctic convoys from Norway, including the attacks on PQ-17. July 1942 saw him assigned to the general staff in Germany, where he became a close confidant of Hermann Göring. During his career as a bomber pilot, Herrmann flew 320 missions and sank 12 ships totalling 70,000 tons.
In 1942, Herrmann was appointed to the Luftwaffe Operational Staff. Quickly gaining a reputation as one of the leading tactical and operational innovators of the Luftwaffe, he was the creator of the Luftwaffe night fighter wing designated Jagdgeschwader 300, nicknamed Wilde Sau (German: wild boar). Raised as a response to the growing threat of RAF Bomber Command's night raids on the Reich in mid-1943, which had gained the ascendancy over the Luftwaffe's Nachtjäger radar-guided night fighter forces through the use of chaff, Herrmann's theory was for experienced night flying pilots and ex-instructors to be equipped with Fw 190 day fighters and visually 'free-hunt' the bombers by the light of the fires below and with the aid of special 'flare-carrier' Junkers Ju 88s following the bomber streams, as well as the use of the Naxos radar detector unit on some of these single engined fighters, to find RAF night bombers, when they were aiming by radar. Herrmann himself flew more than 50 night fighter missions and claimed nine RAF bombers destroyed. Although JG 300 and subsequent units raised met with promising initial success, the high wastage of both pilots and aircraft due to high accident rates curtailed extensive use of 'Wilde Sau' beyond the start of 1944.
In December 1943, Herrmann was appointed Luftwaffe Inspector of Aerial Defence. By 1944, he was Inspector General of night fighters and received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. At the end of 1944, he led the 9. Flieger-division (J). At this time he was a leading exponent of the tactical deployment of the so-called Rammjäger Sonderkommando Elbe (German: ram fighters, task force Elbe), sent into action in April 1945. Pilot volunteers, often aged 18 to 20, were to be trained to be simply competent enough to control specially lightened and unarmoured Bf 109 fighters and charged with downing Allied bombers by deliberately ramming the tail or control surfaces with the propellers of their aircraft, and thereafter (hopefully) bailing out. Herrmann's intention was to gather a large number of these fighters for a one-off attack on the USAAF bomber streams, hopefully causing enough losses to curtail the bombing offensive for a few months. Fuel shortages prevented employment of the large numbers necessary, although from one mission of this type, on 7 April 1945, of the 120 planes thus committed only 15 came back.
Post war activities
Herrmann was captured by the Soviets after the war and was held prisoner for 10 years before returning to Germany in 1955. Back in Germany, he studied law and settled in Düsseldorf. Among others, he defended Otto Ernst Remer, David Irving, and Fred A. Leuchter. In 1959 Herrmann married the German soprano Ingeborg Reichelt. The marriage produced two children.
Herrmann celebrated his 95th birthday in 2008, and continued making public appearances. A former Luftwaffe colonel, Herrmann was one of the highest-ranked surviving German Luftwaffe officers.
- Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (28 September 1940)
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "300"
- Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds
- German Cross in Gold on 5 June 1942 as Hauptmann in the III./KG 30
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 13 October 1940 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 7./KG 4 "General Wever"
- 269th Oak Leaves on 2 August 1943 as Major and Geschwaderkommodore of JG 300
- 43rd Swords on 23 January 1944 as Oberst and Inspekteur der Nachtjagd in the Reichsluftfahrtministerium and commander of the 30. Jagd-Division
- Smith and Kay (1972), p. 405.
- Smith and Kay (1972), p. 492.
- "Documents on the Legal Actions against David Irving". http://www.fpp.co.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- "Obituaries". Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Thomas 1997, p. 275.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 34.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 181.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 385.
- Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Herrmann, Hajo (1993). Bewegtes Leben. Kampf- und Jadgflieger 1935–45. Universitas Verlag. ISBN 3-8004-1291-8.
- Herrmann, Hajo (2003). Als die Jagd zu Ende war. Mein Flug in die sowjetische Gefangenschaft. Universitas Verlag. ISBN 3-8004-1452-X.
- Kaiser, Jochen (2010). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kampfflieger—Band 1 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Bomber Fliers—Volume 1] (in German and English). Bad Zwischenahn, Germany: Luftfahrtverlag-Start. ISBN 978-3-941437-07-4.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Smith, J.R., Kay, A. (1972). German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
- Hajo Herrmann in the German National Library catalogue
- Obituary of Hans-Joachim Herrmann, The Daily Telegraph, 24 November, 2010
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 300
June 1943 – 26 September 1943
Oberstleutnant Kurd Kettner
|Commander of 30. Jagd-Division
September 1943 – 16 March 1944
Oberst Günther Lützow
|Commander of 1. Jagd-Division
23 March 1944 – 1 September 1944
Generalleutnant Kurt Kleinrath
|Commander of 9. Flieger-Division (J)
26 January 1945 – 8 May 1945