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Hajo Herrmann in January 1944
1 August 1913|
Kiel, Kingdom of Prussia
|Died||5 November 2010(aged 97)|
|Years of service||1935–45|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords|
Hans-Joachim "Hajo" Herrmann (1 August 1913 – 5 November 2010) was a Luftwaffe (Nazi German air force) bomber pilot. In World War II, he was a high-ranking and influential member of the Luftwaffe and a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. 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.
Beginning his military career as an infantry officer, Herrmann 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. When World War II began, he flew bombing missions into Poland and Norway. By 1940, he was Commander of the 7th Staffel of KG 4 and took part in the Battle of Britain. In February 1941, his group went to Sicily, from where it attacked Malta and Greece. In one attack, Herrmann dropped a bomb on an ammunition ship, the SS Clan Fraser; the explosion sank eleven 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 Convoy PQ 17. In July 1942, he was assigned to the general staff in Germany, where he became a confidant of Hermann Göring, the head of the Luftwaffe. During his career as a bomber pilot, Herrmann flew 320 operational sorties and sank 12 ships totalling 70,000 tons.
In 1942, Herrmann was appointed to the Luftwaffe Operational Staff. Gaining a reputation as a tactical and operational innovator, he was the creator of the Luftwaffe night fighter wing Jagdgeschwader 300, which was a response to the night raids of Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command on Germany in mid-1943. The RAF had achieved ascendancy over the Nachtjäger radar-guided night fighter forces, through the use of the radar countermeasure Window and Herrmann suggested that experienced night flying pilots and ex-instructors be equipped with Fw 190 Wilde Sau (Wild Boar) day fighters and 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. He also called for the use of the Naxos radar detector units on some of these single engined fighters, to locate bombers using H2S. Herrmann flew more than 50 night fighter missions and claimed nine RAF bombers destroyed. Although JG 300 and subsequent units had promising initial success, the wastage of 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 Rammjäger Sonderkommando Elbe (ram fighters, task force Elbe), sent into action in April 1945. Pilot volunteers, often aged 18 to 20, were to be trained only to be competent enough to control specially lightened and unarmoured Bf 109 fighters and bring down Allied bombers by ramming the tail or control surfaces with the propellers of their aircraft and bailing out if possible. 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 ten years before returning to Germany in 1955. Once back, he studied law and settled in Düsseldorf. He defended Otto Ernst Remer, the head of the neo-Nazi Socialist Reich Party and the genocide deniers David Irving and Fred A. Leuchter. In 1959, Herrmann married the German soprano Ingeborg Reichelt and the couple had two children.
- Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class (October 1939) and 1st Class (27 May 1940)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (28 September 1940)
- 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 & Kay 1972, p. 405.
- Smith & Kay 1972, p. 492.
- "Documents on the Legal Actions against David Irving". Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- "Obituaries". Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Berger 1999, p. 125.
- 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.
- 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 1939 – 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.
- 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Smith, J.R.; Kay, A. (1972). German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-370-00024-4.
- 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