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Hannes Trautloft age 58
|Born||3 March 1912|
|Died||11 January 1995(aged 82)|
|Allegiance|| Nazi Germany (to 1945)
German Air Force
|Years of service||1932–45
|Commands held||III./JG 51, JG 54|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Johannes "Hannes" Trautloft (3 March 1912 – 11 January 1995) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1932 until the end of the war and in the German Air Force from 1957–70. During the Second World War, he flew 560 combat sorties and was credited with 58 victories.
Hannes Trautloft was born in Großobringen near Weimar in Thüringen. On 7 April 1931, he began his pilot training at the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule (German Air Transport School) at Schleißheim. The course he and 29 other trainees attended was called Kameradschaft 31, abbreviated "K 31". Among the members of K 31 were men like Wolfgang Falck and Günther Lützow. Trautloft graduated from the Deutsche Verkehrfliegerschule 19 February 1932. From K 31 Trautloft and 9 others were recommended for Sonderausbildung (special training) at the Lipetsk fighter-pilot school.
World War II
Trautloft took part in the Battle of France in May 1940. On 4 July I./JG 20 was redesignated III./JG 51. During the Battle of Britain Trautloft got a further two victories with JG 51, bringing his total to 10. In late August it was becoming apparent to the German High Command that the battle of Britain was not going as planned. A frustrated Göring relieved several Geschwaderkommodore of their commands, and appointed younger, more aggressive men in their place. On 6 July 1943 Trautloft was appointed as Jagdflieger Inspizient Ost, serving with the General der Jagdflieger office. This position put him in overall charge as Inspector of all the Fighter aircraft units fighting on the Eastern Front. In November he became Inspekteur der Tagjäger, giving him overall responsibilities for all day-fighters.
In late 1944, a rumor crossed Trautloft's desk that a large number of Allied airmen were being held at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Trautloft decided to visit the camp and see for himself under the pretence of inspecting aerial bomb damage near the camp. Trautloft was about to leave the camp when captured US airman Bernard Scharf called out to him in fluent German from behind a fence. The SS guards tried to intervene but Trautloft pointed out that he out-ranked them and made them stand back. Scharf explained that he was one of more than 160 allied airmen imprisoned at the camp and begged Trautloft to rescue him and the other airmen. Trautloft's adjutant also spoke to the group's commanding officer, Phil Lamason. Disturbed by the event, Trautloft returned to Berlin and began the process to have the airmen transferred out of Buchenwald. Seven days before their scheduled execution, the airmen were taken by train by the Luftwaffe to Stalag Luft III.
In early 1945 Trautloft joined other high-ranking pilots in the so-called Fighter Pilots Revolt, protesting the conduct of the air war. Trautloft was relieved of his position and sent to command a Luftwaffe training division in Strassburg where he ended the war.
After World War II
After the war Trautloft joined the new German Air Force of West Germany on 1 October 1957, now with the rank of Brigadegeneral. He served throughout the 1960s as deputy Inspector General of the Air Force, and retired in 1970 as a Generalleutnant. He was an active member of many veteran organizations including the Gemeinschaft der Jagdflieger until his death on 11 January 1995 at Bad Wiessee.
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 July 1941 as Major and Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 54
- German Cross in Gold on 27 July 1942 as Major in Jagdgeschwader 54
- Kurt Braatz, pp. 28–51
- Deighton, Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain, p.182
- Makos, Adam (2013, pp. 316–318). A higher call. Published by Berkley Books, New York. OCLC 791682283. ISBN 9780425252864.
- Moser, Joseph and Baron, Gerald (2009, p. 122). A fighter pilot in Buchenwald. Published by Edens Veil Media, Bellingham, WA. OCLC 311551716. ISBN 978-0-615-22111-3
- Burgess, Colin (1995, p. 133). Destination Buchenwald. Published by Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst NSW. OCLC 35019954. ISBN 0-86417-733-X.
- Kinnis, Arthur and Booker, Stanley (1999, p. 176). 168 Jump Into Hell. Published by Victoria B.C. OCLC 43390724. ISBN 0-9684198-0-1
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 425.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 749.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 479.
- Deighton, Len (1977). Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain, Pimlico. (ISBN 0-7126-7423-3)
- Kurt Braatz (2005), Gott oder ein Flugzeug - Leben und Sterben des Jagdfliegers Günther Lützow. NeunundzwanzigSechs Verlag. ISBN 3-9807935-6-7
- 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.
- Forsyth, Robert (2011). Aces of the Legion Condor. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8.
- 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.
Major Martin Mettig
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 54 Grünherz
15 August 1940 – 5 July 1943
Major Hubertus von Bonin
Oberst Günther Lützow
|Commander of 4. Fliegerschul-Division
10 November 1944 – 8 May 1945