Hans Baur

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Johann "Hans" Peter Baur
Hans Baur.jpg
Hans Baur
Born 19 June 1897
Ampfing, Bavaria, German Empire
Died 17 February 1993(1993-02-17) (aged 95)
Herrsching, Bavaria, Germany
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Years of service 1915–1918, 1933–1945
Rank SS-Gruppenführer Collar Rank.svg SS-Gruppenführer
and Generalleutnant of the Police
Unit Die Fliegerstaffel des Führers
Commands held Regierungsstaffel
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross First Class
Komtur Cross
Other work Ich flog mit den Mächtigen der Erde (autobiography)
On 10 March 1943, under heavy security, Hitler flew in to Army Group South's headquarters at Zaporozh'ye, Ukraine. Seen here, Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein is greeting Hitler on the local airfield; on the right are Hans Baur and the Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall Wolfram von Richthofen
(photographer: Heinrich Hoffmann)

SS-Gruppenführer Hans Baur (19 June 1897 – 17 February 1993) was the Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler's pilot during his political campaigns of the 1920s and 1930s. He later became Hitler's personal pilot and leader of the Reichsregierung squadron.[1] Captured by the Soviets at the end of World War II in Europe, he endured ten years of imprisonment in the USSR before being released on 10 October 1955 to the French, who then imprisoned him until 1957.

He died in Herrsching, Bavaria, in 1993.

Early life[edit]

Baur was born Johann Peter Baur in Ampfing, Bavaria and educated at the Erasmus-Grasser-Gymnasium in Sendling-Westpark, Munich.

World War I[edit]

Baur was called up to the Imperial German Army in 1915, and trained in field artillery at the airfield in Augsburg. He then joined the Luftstreitkräfte (air force) as an artillery spotter. During the war he claimed 6 victories, with 3 additionally unconfirmed.[2] During one flight, Baur's aircraft experienced engine failure and was forced to descend, but he was able to restart the engine. For his victories, Baur was awarded the Iron Cross first class for bravery.[3]

Between the wars[edit]

Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to disband its military air force. Baur joined the Freikorps under Franz von Epp, and in the same year became a courier flier for military airmail in Fürth.

From 1921 to 1923 he was a pilot for Bayrische Luftlloyd, and then Junkers Luftverkehr. In May 1923, Baur flew the opening flight of the Munich-Vienna route in a Junkers F 13. In 1926, Baur became one of the first six pilots of Deutsche Luft Hansa,[3] and in May 1928 flew the opening flight of the Munich-Milan-Rome route.[1]

In 1926, Baur became a member of the NSDAP (No. 48,113).[4] On April 1, 1931 Baur flew the opening flight of the Berlin-Munich-Rome route, known as the Alpine flight, whose passengers included Nuntius Eugenio Pacelli, Arturo Toscanini and tsar Boris III of Bulgaria.

Pilot to Hitler[edit]

Hitler was the first politician to campaign by air travel, deciding that travel by plane was more efficient than travel by railway. Baur first piloted him during the 1932 General Election.[4]

Hitler obtained his first private aeroplane, a Junkers Ju 52/3m with registration number D-2600 (Werk Nr. 4021), in February 1933, on becoming German Chancellor. Powered by BMW 132 license-built Pratt and Whitney radial engines, it was named Immelmann II after World War I pilot Max Immelmann.[5] The Fuehrermaschine had a small folding table in Hitler's favourite seat on the right, with a clock, altimeter and airspeed indicator on the bulkhead just in front.

Baur had just became an "air millionaire" of Lufthansa, having flown his millionth kilometre for the airline.[3] As a result of his combination of experience and capability to restart a plane engine in combat, which Hitler took as a sign of fate, Baur was personally selected by Hitler to be his official pilot in February 1933.

Die Fliegerstaffel des Führers[edit]

Baur was appointed head of the Hitler's personal squadron, initially based at Oberwiesenfeld, Munich.[6] As the Luftwaffe was not yet established, Hitler wanted Baur to be able to command sufficient power and respect to assure his security, and therefore commissioned Baur a Standartenführer (Colonel) in the Schutzstaffel (No. 171,865).[4]

Upon his arrival in Berlin in 1933, Baur's first task was to expand Hitler's squadron and implement new security procedures. With the approval of then Luft Hansa Director Erhard Milch, an additional Ju 52/3m was designated to meet with Baur's security requirements, named Richthofen.[6] In 1935, 4021 was replaced by 4053, taking the latter's name Buddecke; while 4053 was designated Immelmann II with tail number D-2600.

In 1934, after the death of von Hindenburg, Hitler reorganised the government and created the Regierungsstaffel (Government squadron), making Baur the head. Headquartered at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, Baur was charged with providing flights and pilots for the Führer's cabinet and for his generals. There were eight planes able to carry 17 passengers each at his disposal. D-2600 remained Adolf Hitler's primary aircraft.[6]

Adolf Hitler's personal Fw 200 Condor, bearing the insignia of the Fliegerstaffel des Führers on its nose

After Hitler became Führer, he increasingly relied on Baur for advice about air war policy and technical developments. He allowed Baur to fill his squadron with experienced Luft Hansa pilots, and train them in military procedures in preparation for the forthcoming war:

Although he tried to convert Baur to vegetarianism, Hitler also invited him to the Reich Chancellery for his favourite meal of pork and dumplings for his 40th birthday, and gave him a Mercedes Benz to replace his personal Ford.[7] In September 1939, the squadron was renamed Die Fliegerstaffel des Führers. Hitler's personal squadron now had a special insignia that was painted on the nose of all planes: a black eagle head on a white background, surrounded by a narrow red ring.[6]

In early 1939, Baur felt that the Führer would be much safer flying in the newly designed Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor.[6] Originally configured as a 26-passenger Luft Hansa transport aircraft (Werk Nr. 3099), the plushed-up Condor was named "Immelmann III" registered as D-2600, and it served Hitler until it was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid on July 18, 1944.

Führerbunker and Soviet detention[edit]

On 31 January 1944, Baur was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer (Brigadier General) and major general of the police; and on February 24, 1945 became an SS-Gruppenführer (Major General) and Generalleutnant of the Police.[4]

During the last days of the war, Baur was with Hitler in the Führerbunker. Baur had devised a plan to allow Hitler to escape from the Battle of Berlin; a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was held on standby which could take off from an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten, near the Brandenburg Gate. However, Hitler refused to leave Berlin. On 26 April 1945, the improvised landing strip was used by Hanna Reitsch to fly in Colonel-General Robert Ritter von Greim, appointed by Hitler as head of the Luftwaffe after Hermann Göring's dismissal. During the evening of 28 April, Reitsch flew von Greim out on the same road-strip and Hitler suggested to Baur that he evacuate himself and Martin Bormann the same way.

Baur stayed with him until Hitler committed suicide on the afternoon of 30 April.[8] After Hitler's suicide, Baur found the improvised road-strip too pot-holed for use and overrun by the Soviet 3rd Shock Army. A plan was devised to escape out from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or to the German Army to the North. SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke split up the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker soldiers and personnel into ten main groups.[9] Baur and Bormann left the Reich Chancellery as part of one of the groups. During his escape, after losing touch with Bormann,[3] Baur was shot in the legs, and the wound was so serious that his right lower leg was later amputated in Posen on 10 June 1945.[10]

Captured by the Soviets in a hospital, Baur was of great interest to his captors, who believed he might have flown Hitler to safety before the fall of Berlin. They also believed he had information concerning stolen art. They especially wanted information concerning the plundering of the Amber Room, (Bernsteinzimmer), in Leningrad. He endured ten years of imprisonment in the USSR before being released on 10 October 1955 to the French, by whom he was kept prisoner until 1957.[11]

Later life and book[edit]

Baur returned to West Germany and in 1957 wrote his autobiography Ich flog mit Mächtigen, which liberally translates as "I flew with [the] mighty." The book was later lengthened and the title was changed to Mit Mächtigen zwischen Himmel und Erde, which translates as "Between Heaven and Earth with [the] Mighty." The French translation is more softly titled J'étais pilote de Hitler: Le sort du monde était entre mes mains, which translates to "I was Hitler's pilot: The fate of the world was in my hands."

The book contains a collection of eye witness accounts of Hitler's daily activities and conversations and is unique because Hans Baur, as his private pilot and personal friend, was in Hitler's presence practically every day from 1933 to 1945. The book contains an account of the events surrounding the arrest of Ernst Roehm, by Hitler himself, on June 30, 1934 at Bad Wiessee in which Baur took part. The book also tells of Baur's dislike for Hermann Goering (whom Baur describes as a "thick headed glutton"). Hans Baur was one of the few people who were truly close to Hitler and was one of the people assigned by Hitler to cremate his remains. Baur was one of the last persons to see Hitler alive in the Berlin bunker. The book has since been translated into English and is a rare insider look into Hitler's daily life and doings as leader of the German Reich.

Baur died in Herrsching, Bavaria, of old age ailments in 1993. For a time, his house in Herrsching served as a place of pilgrimage for many veterans of the war. He is interred in the family plot in the Westfriedhof in Munich.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Hans Baur married Elfriede Braur in 1923. Their only daughter Ingeborg was born the following year. After Elfriede Baur's death from cancer in 1935, Baur married again, with Hitler as his best man. His second wife Maria, by whom he had two daughters, died while he was in captivity in Russia. His third wife, Cresentia, survived him.[7]

Decorations and awards[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Gen Hans Peter Baur". findagrave.com. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  2. ^ http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/germany/baur.php
  3. ^ a b c d "Hans Baur". E.J. Noomen and Androom Software. 2002. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ernst Klee: Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, S. 34.
  5. ^ Hoffmann, Peter (2000). Hitler's Personal Security: Protecting The Fuhrer 1921–1945, p. 75
  6. ^ a b c d e Mueller, Walter (2005-02-28). "THE FUEHRER'S PERSONAL AIRCRAFT SQUADRON AND ITS COMMANDER". Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  7. ^ a b Sweeting, C. G. Hitler's Personal Pilot – the Life and Times of Hans Baur, ISBN 1-57488-288-0
  8. ^ Hitler's last days: "Preparations for death" "...30 April...During the afternoon Hitler shot himself..."
  9. ^ Fischer, Thomas (2008). Soldiers of the Leibstandarte: SS-Brigadefuhrer Wilhelm Mohnke and 62 Soldiers of Hitler's Elite Division, J.J. Fedorowicz, p. 49. ISBN 978-0-921991-91-5
  10. ^ Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler – The Legends – The Evidence – The Truth, Brockhampton Press, pp. 292, 294. ISBN 1-86019-902-X
  11. ^ Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler – The Legends – The Evidence – The Truth, p. 294