This week in the War, 23–29 April 1945: A flying visit

Ritter von Griem, January 1939 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-204-1220-500/ CC-BY-SA 3.0]

This week in the war, on 23 April 1945, as Adolf Hitler took personal charge of directing Berlin’s defenses, he received a telegram from Hermann Goering advocating that he, Goering, take full control of Germany.

Enraged, Hitler stripped Goering of all his offices and ordered Luftwaffe General Ritter von Griem to fly from Munich to Berlin so that the Fuehrer might appoint von Griem, in person, as the new head of the Luftwaffe.

A few days later, von Griem flew into Gatow aerodrome and then, piloting a Fieseler Storch, flew towards the beleaguered Chancellery in the centre of Berlin. His lover, the famous test pilot Hanna Reitsch, was squeezed into the back of the plane.

Happier times for all concerned. March 1941: Hanna Reitsch receives the Iron Cross from Hitler; Hermann Goering is in the background [Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F051625-02951/ CC-BY-SA 3.0]

Fire from Russian ground troops wounded von Griem as he prepared to land and it was left to Hanna to lean forward and land the plane only a few hundred meters from the Fuehrerbunker.

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