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Knight's Cross And Oak-Leaves Recipient Gunther Lutzow

Discussion in 'German WWII Medals and Awards' started by Jim, Sep 13, 2007.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Oberst Gunther Lutzow

    Gunther Lutzow was born in Kiel on 4 September 1912. Despite being a student of theology, he was drawn to a military career - hardly surprising given that he came from one of Germany's most famous families with a centuries-old military tradition. An early volunteer for the Luftwaffe, Lutzow served in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War where he honed his flying skills to perfection and gained ace status by shooting down five enemy aircraft. He earned himself the Spanish Cross in Gold. On returning to Germany, he became an instructor at the Fighter Pilot School, passing on his own skills to fledgling pilots. By the outbreak of World War II, Lutzow was serving with Jagdgeschwader 3 Udet, becoming Geschwader-kommodore in August 1940. On 18 September 1940, during the Battle of Britain, he shot down his 15th enemy aircraft, bringing him the award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He gradually increased his tally, and by the time his Geschwader moved eastwards for Operation BARBAROSSA in the summer of 1941, he had shot down 40 enemy aircraft. On 20 July he was awarded the Oak-Leaves addition to his Knight's Cross, the 27th soldier to receive this. BARBAROSSA marked the start of a rapid increase in combat victories for Lutzow. By 11 October, just 76 days later, he had more than doubled his score, to 92 enemy aircraft destroyed. During that same month, he became only the second fighter pilot in the entire Luftwaffe to reach a score of 100 enemy aircraft shot down.

    Gunther Lutzow was one of Germany's finest fighter pilots, and was only one of a small number of Luftwaffe aces who achieved kills with a jet fighter. He is shown here after the award of the Swords to his Oak-Leaves in October 1941. Lutzow was only the second Luftwaffe fighter pilot to achieve a score of 100 enemy aircraft shot down.

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    Once again, success brought with it a recall from combat duties, and Lutzow went on to fill a number of administrative posts, ending up as a Jagdfliegerfuhrer, or Fighter Leader. In January 1945, during a conference called by Reichsmarschall Goring, Lutzow had a frank exchange with his commander-in-chief, criticising Goring's failure to support his pilots, his offensive remarks about some pilots being cowards, the conduct of the war in general, and the sacking of Adolf Galland as General of the Fighters. The enraged Reichsmarschall threatened to have Lutzow court-martialled, but failed to carry through his threat. Instead Lutzow was posted to Italy as Jagdfliegerfuhrer - as far from Berlin and Goring as possible.
    In the closing days of the war, Lutzow returned to combat sorties, operating the Me 262 jet fighter in Jagdverband 44, the so-called 'Squadron of Experts' commanded by the now recalled Galland. The majority of pilots in this squadron were high-ranking, decorated fighter aces. Lutzow was able to score two more kills before being reported missing in action on 24 April 1945. Despite his long absence from combat due to various staff appointments, he clocked up over 300 combat missions and achieved 108 victories. Lutzow was a man of integrity and moral fortitude who despised the political hierarchy and military bureaucracy and spoke his mind, despite the dangers of so doing in the Third Reich. No doubt his earlier theological training did much to form his character. He was universally admired and respected by his peers and is often described as embodying all that was decent and honourable about the German military character.
     

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