Monday 21 March 2016

Hitler's Private Airshow: Too Little Too Late

Me 262\

On November 26, 1943, Hitler left his lair at Rastenburg, East Prussia and made the 45 minute drive to Insterburg, 37 miles from the Russian border.  There, the Fuhrer was treated to a private airshow of German weaponry.  "The jet.  Show me the jet," he urged, meaning the new Messerschmitt.  When the jet finally appeared, racing across the blue horizon, Hitler asked if it was capable of carrying a bomb.  Told that it could carry one maybe two 250 kilogram bombs, Hitler exclaimed:  "This is the blitz bomber I have been requesting for years!"

Surprisingly, Germany did not get into aircraft production until late in the Second World War.  IN fact, half of its planes were produced in 1944 and 1945.  It was too little too late.  The Luftwaffe could not hold up to the Red Air Force, which was receiving an endless supply of aircraft from America through Lend Lease.  The Luftwaffe lost about 11,000 aircraft on the Eastern Front alone and could not replace them fast enough.

Therefore, when the Red Army invaded Intersburg in January of 1945, just a little over a year after Hitler had watched the Messerschmitt debut at the town's airfield, the Wehrmacht had no protection from the air.  The civilians, who fled the town in an endless caravan, were sitting ducks for the Red Air Force.  And Hitler, who had been so sure of Germany's victory, retreated to his Rastenburg lair.

A column of German prisoners on the streets Insterburg, April 1945:

A column of German prisoners makes its way down Insterburg's main street circa April 1945 courtesy

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