Hans Ulrich Rudel
Hans Ulrich Rudel, the son of a Protestant minister, was born in Konradswaldau, Germany, on 2nd July 1916. After leaving school he joined the Luftwaffe. On the outbreak of the Second World War Rudel flew reconnaissance missions during the invasion of Poland. On 11th October, 1939, Rudel was awarded an Iron Cross 2nd Class.
In May 1940 Rudel was accepted to join a Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombing flying course. He took part in the airborne invasion of Crete in May 1941. Later that year he provided air support for Operation Barbarossa. On 18th July, 1941, Rudel was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class. Rudel flew 2,530 sorties and claimed to have destroyed 519 Soviet tanks on the Eastern Front. During this period he was shot down nearly thirty times by anti-aircraft fire.
In January, 1945, Rudel was awarded the Golden Oakleaves and was promoted to the rank of colonel. On 9th February he was shot down over the Soviet Union. After having one leg amputated he was back on duty six weeks later. On 8th May, 1945, Rudel flew his Ju-87 Stuka to the American Zone in order to avoid capture by the Soviets.
After the Second World War he moved to Argentina where he worked for the State Airplane Works. He also wrote two books on politics. In We Frontline Soldiers and Our Opinion to Rearmament of Germany he advocated a new war in the Soviet Union in order to obtain German Lebensraum. He followed this with Daggerthrust or Legend, a book that attacked those members of the German Army that had not given their full support to Adolf Hitler. In both these books Rudel was seen to be promoting Nazi ideas and attempts were made to stop the publication of his war diary, Nevertheless, being published in West Germany.
Rudel returned to West Germany in 1953 and joined the neo-Nazi German Reich Party. His memoirs, Stuka Pilot, was published in 1958. A successful businessman in post-war Germany, Hans Ulrich Rudel died in 1982.