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Hans Jeschonnek (9 April 1899 ‚Äď 18 August 1943) was a Germanmarker Generaloberst and a Chief of the General Staff of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe during World War II. He committed suicide in August 1943.


Jeschonnek was born in Hohensalza marker in the Prussianmarker Province of Posenmarker. The son of an assistant secondary school master, he studied at the cadet institute of Lichterfeldemarker. He was commissioned as a Leutnant in 1915 and began flying with Fighter Squadron 40 in 1917. By the time World War I had ended, Jeschonnek had shot down two enemy aircraft and received the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Iron Cross 2nd Class. Promoted to Leutnant in 1917, he joined the Luftwaffe and became an ace.

With the creation of the Reichswehr, Jeschonnek participated in the Silesian Uprisings as a member of the Reichswehr's Cavalry Regiment No. 6. He then worked under Kurt Student in the Army Ordnance Department. Jeschonnek graduated from General Staff training in 1928 as the class valedictorian.

Upon graduation, Jeschonnek worked for a department of the Reichswehr Ministry which was responsible for the building of airplaces prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles. He became the adjutant of Erhard Milch in 1933 and was a prot√©g√© of Walter Wever. He was promoted to Captain in Bomber Wing 152 in March 1934 and to Major on April 1 1935. Jeschonnek served as the Commodore of Training Group III of Air Administrative Area I in Greifswaldmarker, which tested aircraft, from October 1 1936 to October 1 1937. In the latter year he returned to the Luftwaffe ministry and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Jeschonnek became the Chief of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff on February 1 1938 and was promoted to Oberst in November of the same year. On February 1 1939, Jeschonnek replaced Hans-J√ľrgen Stumpff as the Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe, a position he held until his death. On August 14 1939 he was promoted to Generalmajor.

On the first day of the invasion of Poland beginning World War II, Jeschonnek called the German Embassy in Moscowmarker to request that the Soviet Unionmarker keep its Minskmarker radio station continually identifying itself, so that German pilots could use it for navigational purposes against Polish targets. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 October 1939, after Poland was defeated. With the success of the Luftwaffe in Poland and during the Battle of France, Jeschonnek was promoted to General der Flieger on August 19 1940.

Although the Luftwaffe had great success during the campaigns against Poland and Battle of France, the poor logistics of the Luftwaffe began to show during the campaigns against Britain, the Soviet Union, and the Mediterranean, especially with the high losses in manpower and materiel. Jeschonnek and Hermann Göring were to blame, as they had underestimated the logistics involved with the campaign. Because the United Kingdommarker continued to resist "the Blitz", Jeschonnek suggested in September 1940 that the Luftwaffe should terror bomb Londonmarker's residential suburbs, a suggestion declined by Adolf Hitler. Despite the Luftwaffe's failure in the Battle of Britain, Jeschonnek was promoted to Generaloberst on 1 March 1942.

Devotedly loyal to Hitler and feuding with Milch and Göring, Jeschonnek received mounting criticism by Hitler toward the Luftwaffe in general as the branch's capabilities declined during the war. Field Marshal Albert Kesselring explained that
During the war years, the most impressive personality among the Chiefs of the General Staff was Generaloberst Jeschonnek ‚ÄĒ an unusually intelligent and energetic person.
Even Jeschonnek, however, was not strong enough to oppose Goering successfully (occasionally he did succeed in opposing Hitler) in matters of decisive importance.
A very definite lack of harmony brought effective coordination to a standstill.

Hermann Göring at Hans Jeschonnek's funeral
Hans Jeschonnek's grave
As part of Operation Crossbow, Allied bombing raids struck Peenem√ľnde; Jeschonnek erroneously ordered Berlinmarker's air defenses to fire upon 200 German fighters who had mistakenly gathered near the Reich's capital. Jeschonnek shot himself at the Wolfschanzemarker in Rastenburgmarker, East Prussia.

Besides the Knight's Cross, other awards to Jeschonnek include the Wound Badge, the Cross of Honor, the Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, and the Finnish Order of the Cross of Liberty.

See also


  1. Suchenwirth, 213
  2. Suchenwirth, 214
  3. Shirer, 821
  4. Keegan, 85
  5. Shirer, 1013
  6. Suchenwirth, 278
  7. Nielsen, 34
  8. Keegan, 85.


  • Richard Suchenwirth. Command and Leadership in the German Air Force. Ayer Publishing. 1970. ISBN 0405000510
  • William L. Shirer. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Fawcett Crest. New York. 1983. ISBN 0-449-21977-1
  • Andreas L. Nielsen. German Air Force General Staff. Ayer Publishing. 1968. ISBN 040500043X
  • John Keegan. Who's Who in World War Two. Routledge (UK). 2003 ISBN 0415260337

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