Hermann Goering Founds The Mighty German Luftwaffe

Today on May 15, 1933, Nazi-leader Hermann Goering secretly starts building the mighty German Luftwaffe.

Hermann Wilhelm Goering was one of the most influential military and political figure during the rise of Nazi Germany. As a close member of Hitler’s inner circle, he played a significant role in establishing and developing the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). As an admired veteran of World War I, Goering served as the last commander of the legendary Jagdgeschwader I; the same aerial division once led by Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron). After Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he also tasked him with creating the Gestapo, the notorious secret police division of Nazi Germany.

As part of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920, Germany was forced to disband its airforce and navy. The lopsided postwar agreement was designed to stop them from ever becoming another dominant military power; in reality, it served as a catalyst for the future Second World War. During the 1920s, Germany brokered a secret deal with Russia to have their pilots trained at the Lipetsk Air Base. On May 15, 1933, the Reich Ministry of Aviation formed the Luftwaffe by merging all military aviation groups into one organization. Goering was granted full control over the new division but had very little knowledge of current aerial strategies. As a result, he heavily relied on Erhard Milch to execute his vision, the man who practically became the de facto minister.

The Luftwaffe became the most sophisticated and technologically advanced air forces in the world. It played a critical role during the invasion of Poland, and again, during the rapid conquest of France and the Low Countries in 1940. Goering was now at the pinnacle of his power and influence. Hitler even named him as his deputy and successor. However, the hype was short-lived as Germany failed to defeat the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. During its short thirteen-year history, the Luftwaffe produced 120,000 aircraft and employed more than 3.4 million personnel. In 1946, the organization formally disbanded after the allies finished carving up the country into occupied territories.

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