|Born||30 Mar 1892|
|Died||25 Jan 1972|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseErhard Milch was born in Wilhelmshaven, Germany to Jewish father Anton Milch and Christian mother Clara Milch (whose maiden name was Rosenau, suggesting possible Jewish ancestry). During WW1, Milch served in the German Army as an artillery officer and then as a pilot flying observation planes. By the end of WW1, he was commanding a squadron. He retired from the German Army in 1920 and formed the small airline company Lloyd Ostflug based out of the free city of Danzig, flying passengers from Danzig to the Baltic States. In 1923, he became the managing director of Danziger Luftpost. In 1925, he became the managing director of Junkers Luftverkehr, overseeing its merger with his previous employer Deutscher Aero Lloyd in 1926. He emerged from this merging as the first managing director of Deutsche Luft Hansa.
ww2dbaseIn 1933, Milch entered government service as the State Secretary of the newly formed Reichsluftfahrtministerium ("Reich Aviation Ministry"), answering to Hermann Göring. He was instrumental in establishing the German Air Force Luftwaffe. In 1935, as anti-Semitism sentiments rose in Nazi Germany, Milch's Jewish ancestry became a topic of discussion. He was investigated by the Gestapo, only getting a break after Göring stated that Milch's biological father was actually another man, Karl Brauer. Milch was able to receive a German Blood Certificate to avoid further troubles from the Gestapo. Göring's famous quote "Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich" (I decide who is a Jew) came out of this incidence.
ww2dbaseAt the rank of general in the Luftwaffe, Milch commanded Luftflotte ("Air Fleet") 5 during the Norwegian campaign. In 1940, he was given the title Air Inspector General and the rank of Field Marshal. He was placed in charge of the production of military aircraft in Germany. In this capacity, his frequent change of requirements was blamed for manufacturers not being able to produce at their full capacity. In 1944, Milch, together with Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler, attempted to convince Adolf Hitler to remove Göring from the top command of the Luftwaffe following the failed invasion of the Soviet Union, but Hitler refused. Göring retaliated by forcing Milch out of his position. For the remainder of the war, he worked under Albert Speer.
ww2dbaseAt the end of the European War, Milch attempted to flee Germany, but was captured on the Baltic coast on 5 May 1945. He surrendered his Field Marshal's baton to Commando-Brigadier Derek Mills-Roberts, who had previously seen the death camp at Bergen-Belsen, and broke the baton over Milch's head.
ww2dbaseIn 1947, Milch was tried at Nuremberg, Germany. He was convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment at Landsberg prison in Bavaria, Germany. In 1951, his sentence was commuted to 15 years, and in Jun 1954 he was released. He passed away in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2009
Erhard Milch Timeline
|30 Mar 1892||Erhard Milch was born.|
|12 Apr 1940||Luftflotte 5 was formed in Hamburg, Germany under the command of Generaloberst Erhard Milch for operations in Norway. Milch would soon establish his headquarters in Oslo, Norway.|
|25 Jan 1972||Erhard Milch passed away.|
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944