The Luftwaffe is a generic term for aircraft in German, but it was also the name of the of the aerial warfare branch of the German Wemacht during World War II. It was founded in 1935 for national defense, but of course Hitler used it as a key component in his military during his invasions of Europe. Hermann Goring and Robert Ritter von Greim are the only two commanders in the Luftwaffe’s history. The fact that the German forces were able to sweep across Europe at such a rapid pace was due in large part to their aerial power. It was a surprise that they had such a large air force at all since Germany was restricted from training pilots from the treaty following World War I. Nonetheless, it became one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced units throughout the entire war. The term blitzkrieg, although a German word, was coined by Germany’s enemies. Meaning “lightning war”, German forces used this military tactic combined with motorized trucks, tanks, armored vehicles, and of course, aircraft, for quick and decisive victories. Hitler was convinced that Germany could not win a prolonged war of attrition and his short campaigns led not only to victories but also a low loss of life. Not until the Battle of Britain did the Luftwaffe show signs of possible defeat as they were unable to subdue the Royal Air Force despite inflicting relatively heavy losses on both British planes and infrastructure. The Battle of Britain was one of the most crucial events throughout the entire war. Germany had managed to rampage through Western Europe in a matter of months, forcing countries to surrender in order to prevent complete destruction of civilian property. As Great Britain was the last major power in Western Europe opposing Hitler, it was the next target for the German War Machine. An amphibious assault called Operation Sea Lion was planned, but before it could be carried out successfully, the Royal Air Force needed to be subdued. Despite the Luftwaffe’s numerical advantage, they were unable to secure a victory and therefore delaying the invasion of Britain for long enough (although this was not expected at the time) for the United States to enter the war on the European front. This marked the beginning of a much longer war of attrition that Germany had sought to avoid in the first place.
Aug 11, 2015 By Henry Gao