Luftwaffe Reborn

Today in History, February 26: 1935:

Adolph Hitler secretly signed a decree creating the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, and names Hermann Goering it’s commander. At the end of WWI the Treaty of Versailles signed between the combatants, including Germany, declared that Germany could have no military air service.

Hitler quietly built up what would become a larger, and more modern, air force while the rest of Europe and America let their forces languish.

Lufthansa, the civilian airline that was permitted, was used to provide flight training to the men that would become Luftwaffe pilots.

By September 1939 when the German Blitzkrieg swept across Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France, the Luftwaffe consisted of 1,000 modern fighter planes and 1,050 modern bombers.

This build up, and the build up of the Wehrmacht, all took place while the future allies practiced appeasement and protested verbally (the British had built up the Royal Air Force, but it was still much smaller than the Luftwaffe).

So Much Owed by So Many to So Few

Today in History, August 20: 1940 – “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the fourth of his famous WWII speeches to Parliament, inspiring his countrymen and women to fight on. The German Luftwaffe had been very effective in smashing the military and war making abilities of the other European nations; now Britain stood alone against the onslaught. Waves of Nazi bombers and fighters brought the Blitzkrieg across the English Channel, bombing civilians and military targets alike. The RAF had few fighters, but they did have drive and radar, which they used to target the enemy bombers without wasting precious flying time. “The Few”, RAF Fighter Command, flew their Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes almost continuously throughout the Battle of Britain, and eventually dashed Hitler’s hopes for an invasion of Britain.