28 December 1938 |
Schneidemühl (Piła), Province of Pomerania Germany
|Service/branch||NPA Air Force|
|Years of service||1957-1990|
Wolfgang Thonke (born December 28, 1938), is a journalist, promoted military scientist, major general (ret.), and was the last Deputy Commanding General (A3) of the National People's Army Air Force in the former German Democratic Republic. He was a military aviator/fighter pilot of “performance level I” (highest level) with more than 1,500 flight hours.
He successfully passed the school-leaving examination of the secondary school and joined the National People's Army in 1957 as a volunteer. There he became a professional soldier and applied for the attendance of the Air Force Officer’s School in Bautzen. In 1958 he became a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.
Education und first assignments
After graduation with distinction in 1959 he became a professional officer and served as flight instructor in the 3rd Fliegerausbildungsgeschwader of the Air Force Officer’s School. From 1961 to 1965 it was followed by an assignment as instructor flight tactics/ weapon’s control (German: Leiter Lufttaktik/ Luftschießen) of the Fliegerausbildungsgeschwader 15 on aerodrome Rotenburg/Görlitz.
Service as tutor/ instructor and staff officer
Due to his permanent excellent performance as tutor/ instructor and pilot, to train and educate officer students, possible future military pilots, on ground and on air, Wolfgang Thonke was promoted to captain and became in 1965 A3 of the Air Force Officer’s School.
After this assignment he served as deputy commander on flight training of the Air Force Officer’s School from 1968 to 1973.
Because he performed on this staff position excellent as well, he was delegated to high-school study on the Military University Friedrich Engels in Dresden from 1973 to 1975. Here he passed all examination with excellence and graduation in military science (de: Diplommilitärwissenschaftler, Dipl.-Mil.).
After successful graduation lieutenant colonel Thonke was appointed to Commander of the Jagdfliegergeschwader 1 (JG-1) from 1973 to 1975. Hereafter Thonke was assigned to the command and general staff officers course to the General Staff Academy (Russia) from 1975 to 1977. After successful study and promotion to military scientist Dr.rer.mil. colonel Thonke was assigned as chief of the flight inspection department of the Kommando LSK/LV.
Major Siegfried Mittelbach
LtCol Wolfgang Thonke
LtCol Eberhard Köllner
This was followed by an engagement as A3 of the fighter aircraft units in 1981, and after that he became commander of the fighter aircraft units also in the Kommando LSK/LV. On this position he served until 1986.
Service as General
In 1986 W. Thonke was appointed to commander of the Officers high school „Otto Lilienthal” in Bautzen, and in October 7, 1987 he was appointed to major general. The final assignment on general rank from 1989 to 1990 W. Thonke performed as Assistant Commander in Chief A3 of the Air Force in the Kommando LSK/LV in Strausberg.
Colonel Dieter Kleemann
(Nov. 1, 1988 – Jan. 31, 1990)
Major general Wolfgang Thonke
(Feb. 1, 1990 – Oct. 2, 1990)
With the disbandment of the National People´s Army major general Thonke retired with effect of October, 2nd 1990.
Orders and decorations
Among numerous orders and decorations major general Lothar Engelhardt was awarded with:
- Patriotic Order of Merit, in bronze
- Combat order "Of Merit for the Nation and Fatherland" (de: Kampforden „Für Verdienste um Volk und Vaterland), in silver, and bronze
- Merit military pilot of the German Democratic Republic (de: Verdienter Militärflieger der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik)
- Medal of Merit of the National People's Army, in gold, silver and bronze
- Medal of Comradeship in Arms (de: Medaille der Waffenbrüderschaft), in silver
- Medal "For Strengthening of Brotherhood in Arms"
- Medal 30th Anniversary of the Foundation of the GDR (de: Medaille 30. Jahrestag der Gründung der DDR)
- Medal for Faithful Service in the National People's Army in bronze, silver, gold, and XX-years service (gold)
Thonke is married and has with his wife Karin three children. Since 1990 he has been working as a freelance journalist and is member of the Fliegerstammtisch Strausberg
- „Aviator stories – from take oft to landing“, matters of fact and experiences – recorded by members of the NPA Air Force, Strausberg in 2013, original edition (page 80): ISBN 978-3-9814822-3-2, Strausberg, Berlin, 2013.
- Schönbohm, Jörg. Two Armies and One Fatherland. Peter and Elfi Johnson, translators. Berghahn Books, Providence, Rhode Island, 1996 (originally published in 1992 in Germany as Zwei Armeen und ein Vaterland)