Hajo Herrmann

Hans-Joachim Herrmann

Hajo Herrmann in January 1944
Nickname(s) Hajo
Born (1913-08-01)1 August 1913
Kiel, Germany
Died 5 November 2010(2010-11-05) (aged 97)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Luftwaffe
Years of service 1935–45
Rank Oberst
Unit KG 4
KG 30
JG 300

Spanish Civil War

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
Spouse(s) Ingeborg Reichelt
Other work Lawyer

Hans-Joachim "Hajo" Herrmann (1 August 1913 – 5 November 2010)[1][2] was a Luftwaffe (Nazi Germany 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.

After World War II Hermann became a lawyer whose high-profile cases included the defense of neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.

Military career

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 such attack, Herrmann dropped a single bomb on an ammunition ship, the SS Clan Fraser;[3] the resulting explosion sank 11 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 close confidant of Hermann Göring, the head of the Luftwaffe. During his career as a bomber pilot, Herrmann flew 320 missions 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 innovators, he was the creator of the Luftwaffe night fighter wing designated Jagdgeschwader 300, which was a response to the Royal Air Force Bomber Command's night raids on the Germany in mid-1943. RAF had achieved ascendancy over the Luftwaffe's Nachtjäger radar-guided night fighter forces through the use of the radar countermeasure chaff, and Herrmann's theory was for experienced night flying pilots and ex-instructors to be equipped with Fw 190 day fighters and visually 'free-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 the bombers when they were aiming using radar. Herrmann himself 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 both 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 the so-called Rammjäger Sonderkommando Elbe (German: ram fighters, task force Elbe), sent into action in April 1945. Pilot volunteers, often aged 18 to 20, were to be trained to be simply competent enough to control specially lightened and unarmoured Bf 109 fighters and charged with downing Allied bombers by deliberately ramming the tail or control surfaces with the propellers of their aircraft, and thereafter 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.[4]

Post war activities

Herrmann was captured by the Soviets after the war and was held prisoner for 10 years before returning to Germany in 1955. Once back, he studied law and settled in Düsseldorf. Among others, he defended Otto Ernst Remer, the head of the neo-Nazi Socialist Reich Party; and the Holocaust deniers David Irving, and Fred A. Leuchter.[5] In 1959 Herrmann married the German soprano Ingeborg Reichelt, and the couple had two children.[6]





  • 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. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 300
June 1943 – 26 September 1943
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Kurd Kettner
Preceded by
Commander of 30. Jagd-Division
September 1943 – 16 March 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Oberst Günther Lützow
Commander of 1. Jagd-Division
23 March 1944 – 1 September 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Kurt Kleinrath
Preceded by
Commander of 9. Flieger-Division (J)
26 January 1945 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
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