Jacabowitz, Martin (German WWI aviator)

From June 1916 Martin became part of Fighter Squadron I of the German high command. He was repeatedly shot down at the battle of the Somme. In the fall, his squadron participated in the offensive against Rumania, and Jan 1917 in the battles over Macedonia where he was badly wounded in a dogfight. His leg was amputated. In spite of his wound, he still succeeded to shoot down the opposing British fighter.

Another German Jewish pilot of note was Leopold Ballin who shot down 3 allied planes. It should be mentioned that there were commanders who demanded photos of the shot-down planes. You can imagine the chutzpah of such demands given that Ballin’s plane had been hit 23 times, had lost its flaps for gaining altitude, and had other parts demolished as well. On the 22nd of April 1918, he was awarded the Iron Cross first class. The medal was awarded because he had distinguished himself in more than 41 flights above the enemy (our good guys) in the "defensive battle" in Flanders and in later battles. He accompanied infantry flying 30 meters above them.

Fritz Beckhardt

Of particular interest as a relative of mine (the blog author) from Wallertheim, Fritz Beckhardt, who had a swastika on his plane (before the swastika had its current connotations). He couldn’t imagine that his popular emblem would symbolize evil. It adorned his plane as he acquired the Iron Cross I, the Hohenzollern with swords, the Hessian medal for courage, the Hessian Ernst Ludwigs order, and the equivalent of our purple heart, as well as a silver chalice for bravery in air battle. He was in France at the beginning of the war, and fled back to Germany to participate in WWI, joining as a volunteer to take part on the Western Front among the infantry. Later he joined the air force.

Jacob Wolff

Aviator Jacob Wolff sent a circular which he called his justification to friends and relatives in Jan 10, 1916. "It didn’t want to get to my head that European governments so lacking in culture and so helpless to strike because of a triviality which three smart people could have solved in one day…. On the 2nd August I appeared at the district headquarters in Hamburg for service. I have to admit that this matter of unquestionable duty was very hard for me." Jacob was 46 years old at the beginning of the war, and so did not have to serve. He had 4000 employees in his factory in Hamburg, a fact which also would have freed him from military service. It was believed that good fighter pilots had to be between 19 and 22, and in fact the ages of 2 German air aces Immelmann and Bolke added up were less than his. By the war’s end he had a medal for saving somebody from drowning, and also got the pilots decoration, the Iron Cross first class, etc.
(Source – Judische Flieger by Felix Theilhaber (1924))

It’s hard to swallow for me that Jews fought on the side of the Germans and killed the good guys, but they thought they were fighting for their country, and were no worse in that respect than tens of millions of their fellow German citizens.


Posted on August 21, 2011, in Military and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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