Bruno Loerzer

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Bruno Loerzer
Bruno Loerzer.jpg
Born(1891-01-22)22 January 1891
Berlin, Germany
Died23 August 1960(1960-08-23) (aged 69)
Hamburg, Germany
Allegiance
Service/branch
Years of service
  • 1911–1920
  • 1935–1945
RankLuftwaffe epaulette Generaloberst.svg Generaloberst
Wars
Awards

Colonel General Bruno Loerzer (22 January 1891 – 23 August 1960) was a German air force officer during World War I and World War II. Credited with 44 aerial victories during World War I, he was one of Germany's leading flying aces, as well as commander of one of the first Imperial German Air Service Jagdeschwaders.

Loerzer's close friendship with Hermann Goering led to Loerzer's service in the World War II Luftwaffe, with subsequent promotion to Generaloberst by war's end. Goering described Loerzer as "his laziest general," but swept aside criticizms of Loerzer, commenting "I need someone I can drink a bottle of red wine with in the evening."[1]

Career[edit]

World War I[edit]

May 1918 members of "Jasta" 26: Loerzer is in the middle; at far right Fritz Beckhardt

Born in Berlin, Loerzer was a prewar army officer who learned to fly in 1914. Hermann Göring flew as Loerzer's observer from 28 October 1914 until late June 1915. Transferring to fighters, Loerzer flew with two Jagdstaffeln in 1916 before joining Jagdstaffel 26 in January 1917. By then he had scored two victories over French aircraft. He had his aircraft painted distinctively striped in black and white. As his victory score mounted, he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class and House Order of Hohenzollern. His tally reached 20 victories at the end of October and he received the Pour le Mérite in February 1918.[2]

The same month, he took command of the newly formed Jagdgeschwader III, the third of Germany's famed "flying circuses." His aces included his brother Fritz, who claimed 11 victories. Leading Jasta 26 and three other squadrons, with Hermann Dahlmann's support as adjutant and wingman, Loerzer proved a successful wing commander. Equipped with the new BMW-engined Fokker D.VII, JG III cut a wide swath through Allied formations in the summer of 1918, and his own score mounted steadily. He achieved his last ten victories in September when he reached his final score of 44 victories. Shortly before the armistice, he was promoted to Hauptmann (captain).[2]

Between the world wars[edit]

Loerzer irregularly fought with Freikorps anti-communist paramilitary units from December 1918 until March 1920. He commanded FA 427 in the Baltic area, supporting the Eiserne Division in the tactical air role. During the 1930s he was a leader in various civil aviation organizations (National Socialist Flying Corps: NSFK), and rejoined the Luftwaffe in 1935 with the rank of Oberst (colonel). Loerzer benefited from his long friendship with Göring, becoming Inspector of Fighters with rank of major general in 1938.

World War II[edit]

During the early war years he was commander of II Air Corps, being awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in May 1940. His II Air Corps participated in the invasion of Russia in the summer of 1941, as a section of Kesselring's 2nd Air Fleet—in support of field marshal von Bock. His unit was transferred to Messina, Sicily in October 1941, and he remained there until the middle of 1943, when his section returned to the Italian mainland after suffering heavy losses.

In December 1942, Fighter Ace Werner Baumbach, Group Commander of III/Kampfgeschwader 30, wrote a letter to Hans Jeschonnek, then Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe, regarding the heavy losses suffered by the II Air Corps under Loerzer's leadership. Loerzer was removed from command of the II Air Corps in February 1943, and subsequently promoted by Göring to Generaloberst as Chief of the Luftwaffe Personnel Department and Chief of Personnel Armament and National Socialist Leadership of the Luftwaffe, until December 1944 when he was assigned to the Fuhrerreserve. He retired in April 1945, and was captured by the Americans in May 1945, and held until 1948.

Postwar[edit]

Loerzer died in Hamburg in 1960, at the age of 69.

Awards[edit]

Iron Cross (1914)

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. 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.
  • 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.
  • Norman Franks et al. (1993). Above the Lines: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces of the German *Air Service, Naval Air Service, and Flanders Marine Corps 1914-1918. Grub Street, London.
  • Anthony Kemp (1982, 1990 reprint). German Commanders of World War II. Osprey Pub., London.
  • Theo Osterkamp, Durch Höhen und Tiefen jagt ein Herz. Heidelberg, 1952, p. 361.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 53 Pik As
March, 1937 – March, 1938
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Werner Junck
Preceded by
none
Inspekteur der Jagdflieger
1 April 1938 – 31 January 1939
Succeeded by
Oberst Werner Junck
Preceded by
General Wilhelm Wimmer
Commander of 2. Flieger-Division (1938-1939)
1 February 1939 – 11 October 1939
Succeeded by
II. Fliegerkorps
Preceded by
2. Flieger-Division
Commander of II. Fliegerkorps
11 October 1939 – 23 February 1943
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Martin Harlinghausen