Last Days of the Luftwaffe
ardly any subject in modern history contains as much explosive potential as the end of the Second World War in Europe. It was an epoch of complete social, cultural and technological upheaval. After the fall of National Socialism and its allies a new age began in Western Europe. In the realm of military and aviation history this period was revolutionary. The eclipse of the piston engine and the introduction of electronic detection equipment, rockets and airborne weapons in previously unknown quantities changed the face of air warfare. The tragic course of the wars final months in the aviation sector left its traces not only in Germany. Allied forces thrusting to the heart of Germany were followed closely by scientific units and headhunters, who formed an important part of the team, for it was essential not only to disarm the enemy, to deprive Hitler s Germany of its last chance of resistance, but also to grab as much of its military and technical knowhow as possible. The aviation and motor industries had numerous surprises ready. In the final chaotic weeks of the war, lorry-loads of secret files disappeared along the road to the legendary Alpine Redoubt – and specialist firms such as Mauser with its newest revolver-cannons, or the Heinkel development offices in Bavaria, insofar as their whereabouts were known, were well worth locating. Many of the discoveries came as a complete surprise when the excellent camouflage concealing them was unveiled. Now that the fifty-year mark has been passed, the time has arrived to begin the disclosure of the top secret files of the wartime German aviation industry, and many a surprise certainly awaits us.