INTERVIEW WITH HAJO HERRMANN BY JAMES HOLLAND (@James1940 on Twitter) 4/6/2008
Thank you for letting me see you.
What is your dialect – the Midlands?
I come from Salisbury – Wiltshire – in the Southwest
We can start now.
The way I write my books is that there is a general narrative history and woven into the narrative are personal stories and experiences, following the story of individuals.
Are you giving an account of different authors? How many other people will be in the book?
I don’t know yet. I weave personal experiences and stories throughout the narrative and include different people like pilots, ground crew, civilians, different people.
What is your age?
37 nearly 38.
Did you read other books about these persons?
I read some. I have still a lot of research to do. I am just at the beginning.
What is your background?
I studied history at university. I started writing books about history 7 years ago. I have written a number of books of aspects on the 2nd World War including one about Malta. But the last book I have written was the campaign of Italy. And that was the first book I have written from all sides. From the Germans, the Allieds, the fascists, civilians and so on. And that convinced me that that is the only way to write history now, from my point of view. For example there are millions of books written about the Battle of Britain. But no one has written an overall history from both sides. And already I have learned a lot, talking to people like yourself. Which is different from the myth we have in Britain. The aim is to write as balanced as I can, without any political bias as much as it is possible. And just write how I see it, from both sides.
Did you read the book about bomber Harris?
Yes, I have, bits of it.
And there is a series of books called Germany in the Second World War.’ I have it over there.
Yes – this is translated in English. Is it the one by Horst Boorg? I have the section of the Battle of Britain. Horst Boorg is an academic expert on the 2nd World War, but specifically on the air war.
If you read the book it is far better than I can report to you out of my memory.
When I was reading your book I was finding myself wanting to ask you more questions. From my point of view it is interesting to ask you personally.
Perhaps you have special questions?
Special questions about your book and about you personally. The questions are the basic concept for the whole interview.
SK: Shall James read the questions to you?
Through your memoirs I know that you were born in Kiel and your father was in the navy. Can you tell me a little more about your childhood?
My father, once, he was sacked in the war.
What was he serving on? Battle ships, torpedo boats?
On a torpedo boat – die Schmalboote.
Did your family have a history of navel association?
My mother comes from Wilhelmshafen and my uncle was a sea soldat, which was a special unit. The sea soldats were sent to East Asia to the war upheavals to China before the 1st World War.
Principally I am interested in your time as a bomber during the Battle of Britain. You were obviously a great tactician and you have studied it. You did pre-war papers on bomber tactics. So, I am interested at that aspect of your career as well. You knew Goering well and you met all the Luftwaffe leaders. So I am interested what you felt and thought about that.
There are books with purple stripes. Yes, the 7th volume in which is written the war against Britain – the air warfare. You can read where I was sighted before and after this period. It is translated in English.
Was it definitely Goering on the horse?
I saw him in the uniform of the infantry. I never saw him before.
In your book you wrote that you were a glider pilot. When did you learn to glide?
In 1934 before I entered the Luftwaffe in 1935. I was a soldier and did my basic training.
Was it part of the infantry training?
No, it was voluntary and I had to do the work and build the aircraft. That was my hobby. I had to pay for it. I was always interested in flying.
This is all very interesting and one can’t read up about this in your book. Did you ever thought of joining the navy like your father?
Yes! I tried. They asked, What about your English?’ I had learned French for 9 years, Latin for 6 years and English for 4 years and that was the reason for not being accepted.
That is interesting. Were you aware at the time that the German Luftwaffe had an elite status amongst the German armed forces?
No, not an elite status. We were ordinary soldiers, but many of the young people thought it was better to fly than to march. The Luftwaffe was preferred.
Forgive me but the questions are there to remind myself what I wanted to ask you.
I can understand better when I read them. Yes. The elite status of the Luftwaffe. Later on as the pilots flew around Germany and could be seen by the public they became more and more a special arm of the Reichswehr.
You were good at aerobatics.
Yes, I was more an aerobatic flyer. My heart was in it. But one day one of my teachers asked me what about flying from Kitzing to Kiel to see your parents at the weekend and bad weather is coming and you can’t get back to the airport. What is with the second ability to fly blind. Therefore I decided to join the bomber force, a very practical reason.
After the First World War your family remained in Kiel. What did your father do? Did he stay in the navy?
There were larger factories in Kiel, production for the navy, for example to build u-boats. I think he was a technician in the factory.
I am not quite clear why you were posted to an operational unit before you completed your training as a bomber pilot.
At the 1st stage of my training I decided to become a bomber pilot. There was further operations and training on bigger planes. That was not for the fighters.
I was amazed how many times you were disciplined. It seems unreasonable how much. Was it a product of the time and how much do you think you were a problem as a young headstrong man?
That is an interesting question. I was a certain exception. I tried to train in a special way and tried new things. That was a dangerous way, of course, and sometimes I was scolded about it and later on I was sent to Spain.
It seems very strict. And I would say from what I know of the training in the RAF in the 1930’s it was much stricter than in Britain. What you have suggested and what you were doing you would have not been reprimanded in the RAF. I think the Luftwaffe seems a stricter environment to me.
After reading my book your English comrades were astounded and with them it would have been impossible. They said they were much freer. I read books about your heroes. It was not so tragic that is was a more disciplined way of training.
You were sent to Spain as a punishment, I suppose. But in fact you learned a lot in Spain and made you a better pilot.
Yes, I have learned much more than my German comrades.
The last laugh was with you. I was amazed, though, how many times you were disciplined. For example, those bombs going off in Newcastle later on at the beginning of the war. And you knew exactly what had happened, you found out because the pilot told you. I was amazed that you got in so much trouble about that. Had a RAF bomber pilot done that, no one… to a RAF pilot it would have not made a difference at all.
It is just a different attitude. I couldn’t say that I was a normal case. I was accepted and I got better and better with it. It was not my case to learn things which were introduced already. I tried to make it better and so I began to write my works together with my other friends who wrote about the same themes. We had a competition about certain themes. They were tactical themes and you could participate or not. One theme was: How do the bomber fighters fly best to England? They were tactical themes which I worked on. I made the 3rd prize.
Do you still have these papers?
Yes, the drafts. How to conduct the fight against the enemy Luftwaffe? Or: Should the commander of an aircraft carrier be a man of the Luftwaffe or the Marine? Or similar themes. I have taken part. The prize giving went like this: Without a name and the rank – I got the 1st prize. The jury had a second reading and asked, â€˜Who is the man and how old is he? – I got the 2nd prize. What rank is he – Leutnant !! I got the 3rd prize. That was quite funny.
You seemed to me and I got the feeling from your book that you were quite hard on yourself. You criticised yourself in your books. You were cross about yourself for bombing misses, when you bombed a ship, which was very difficult to do, even when the ship was larger. Would you agree that you were a perfectionist?
You set yourself goals and wanted to reach those, perfect yourself. I was visited by the firm Junkers. Junkers 88, the diving bomber. They brought me a new instrument, objective to dive, for getting my bomb on target. I did some training and we tried to get the bombs on target. But I didn’t think it was going all right. We tried to get the bombs on target in a simple manner. We were newcomers in this sort of warfare.
We had the Heinkel 111 and before the Junkers 52. When we got the Junkers 88 we had little time to get more experience. We got the Junkers in 1940, in the winter. It was not easy to become a perfect diver bomber. We were only fit for it at the beginning of the war.
Did you find the Junkers 88, did you like it as an aircraft?
Yes, it was a fine aircraft. Later, on bombing your cities it was nonsense to fly horizontally and throwing the bombs as your bombers did.
You have obviously learned valuable lessons personally in Spain, but do you think the Luftwaffe has learned valuable lessons too.
When I returned to Germany I was ordered to write about my experiences. Then I was invited to the chief of staff Udet in Berlin to report. For this I was given free time for 3 – 4 weeks. And after a certain time I became a pilot. It’s all in my book. Until 1942 I was a front flyer with about 220 operations. And without any more training I was then appointed to the General Staff of the Luftwaffe. I have always written reports of my experiences and gave them to my superiors and I had lots of successes. But my career advancement didn’t come overnight.
You have written all these reports voluntarily?
Yes, always. That had been recognized and the General Staff thought, ‘We need a man like him.’ Yes, that’s how it happened. I have never thought that I would suddenly be in the General Staff. Writing the reports were out of interest and for my colleagues.
You came from the practical side and in the General Staff there were old men, men of the 1st World War, generals, colonels who didn’t properly understand the new instruments and tactics of modern air warfare.
One evening Goering told me about this flight in the dark trying to fly over France, Belgium to find a place in the dark and when they heard what kind of instruments we have they were absolutely baffled. Of course they couldn’t develop regulations. They needed a man who had practical experiences but was also able to put these to paper and from that develop regulations. I had to write my own regulations for the night hunt.
There is obviously a massive difference between a Focker by-plane, a Focker try-plane and a bomber and a Focker wolf 190.
(No answer because going back to the time when he was seconded to the General Staff).
I would like to ask about the Junkers 86 – which you flew on trial. It must have been a terrifying experience because the aeroplane clearly was not ready for operational flying. But in all your descriptions of operational combat flying you seemed to have had a cool head. Did you find flying nerve wrecking? Or were you always pretty calm?
I have to say that before flying, when you did your preparations and navigations and so on, one felt apprehensive. And you went down to the airfield – to Schiphol in Holland, for example, and then of course I had a strange feeling. It was unknown what it was going to be like and what would come out of it. But when I was in my plane then I was all right.
You were concentrating so hard on flying that you didn’t have time to be scared?
It was all settled. I felt very secure.
And confident in your own ability, confident in your experience as a pilot?
Yes, once I was in my cockpit. And then we would take off one after the other and then we went over the Channel.
I just know that talking to Allied bomber pilots or reading memoirs of them they found every mission, a lot of them, harder and harder to do. To fly over Germany, to have flak, to have night fighters after you. It is scary, terrifying. But you flew many, many more missions than any Allied bomber pilot and I wondered how you managed it, maintained it, how you did it? It is amazing bravery. Or don’t you see it that way?
I had many talks with Peter Hincliffe who translated my book. He was shot down in Germany. I knew when the fighting went on that it was harder for the High Command to replace all the losses. And when the rate of losses grew then there were many psychological difficulties. There were some cases where pilots or other members of the crew could not fly any longer, and they were handed over to the medicals. I could understand that because they were young men, mostly very young men who became the pilots, the navigators and observers. They could do their work, they knew their work but the man in the tail of the plane was very alone, abandoned, just sitting there waiting. The others who shot from the sides were also very alone and left on their own. I have spoken to 1 or 2 of the crew who I shot down at the beginning and they told me that they saw the plane exploding and going down in flames and that that was very shocking. Of course, we felt the same, we had to bear it but I think we were better prepared for this spectacle.
My point, I suppose, is that the Luftwaffe pilots and aircrew were worked a lot harder than the Allied crews. You flew more missions, you had less leave and you weren’t rotated in the same way like the Allied crews and yet there seems to have been less combat fatigue in the Luftwaffe than amongst the Allies. I am not sure why? You personally flew so many missions and there is probably not a single Allied pilot who flew half the number of missions, you flew. And you kept going. That is extraordinary.
But there are different cases. I visited a pilot in Holland when I was in the General Staff. I asked him, What is going on here? You are angry, you are dispirited and you have a lot of losses.’ He answered, In every raid we lose 10%. And after 10 raids we have none left.’ Is that still warfare? Or what is it? We asked ourselves how much the British lose? 5% or so – not so much. So we realize we can’t go on like this. Later there were 10% or more.
It is amazing, it is very impressive how the German soldiers and members of the Luftwaffe seemed to be tougher, go on longer. I don’t know why this is? Is it the up-bringing, the training, the national identity. You seemed to be made of sterner stuff, I suppose.
I met Jonny Johnson and we had a talk about performances. He had 40 – no 38 kills.
He is the top scoring Allied ace. He said admitted to me that we were better like this. He said, ‘We had the opportunity like you but we didn’t have the success as often as you had.’ I can’t explain it. When I had my 100th mission, most of which had been against England, France and Poland, I did not feel any emotional feeling that I had somehow passed the frontier line of my endurance.
You felt happy to keep going?
Yes, there were differences and what you can see within 100 of these raids. That of course is not very pleasant, you see that your comrades go. For example in Poland, on the 2nd or 3rd raid over the one flying with me – 411 – he exploded in 1000 pieces and he went down. That is, of course, an experience you can’t easily put out of your mind.
That must have had an effect on you?
In general, I mean, your people in the bomber, they had a very, very hard life. And these long raids over Germany to Leipzig or Nuernberg or Berlin, that was very, very hard. But they did it.
I wanted to go back a bit, if I may…I can’t remember was it just before or at the beginning of the war that you devised a new method for bombing hidden targets, a target hidden by clouds. How did you do it? I wasn’t 100% clear. What was your invention?
You had to see and recognize what it was you had to bomb. If there were clouds, sometimes only partially clouded we had to find a point in the neighbourhood, very systematically and mathematically and go on from that point and throw after 4 minutes and 15 seconds your bomb. That was our job and I was convinced that I hit the target. I measured the wind before. The great targets, the towns, that wasn’t necessary. Bur you had certain individual targets that was an artificial method to throw the bomb. You have to get in to the atmosphere, you go through Britain to Manchester, Leeds or Liverpool and around you there are the night fighters. The night fighter that is a special atmosphere and you are only handed over to the faith. They come out of the dark and sometimes they introduced certain systems. You heard by phone, in France, when they directed the night fighters against the bomber. Then we flew back to France, we made a circle and we were free of them. But that was not the general scene. We had many, many losses and this man told me. He flew with Junkers 111 unit that after 10 raids they were all done. A very hard job.
I wonder, if you thought whether you would have liked rather a 4 engine than a 2 engine bomber. Would you have preferred a bigger aeroplane? Did you feel under equipped? The Allies had bombers with 4 engines.
That was the policy of warfare in general. We only had to fight together with the army and the navy. We were not constructed and planned to fight a strategic bomber war as Harris. What we were fit for was planned supporting of the army, penetrating into Poland, France and Russia. And for this task, you need a flexible plane, like the Junkers 88 – and not a Lancaster. The question is this: who at the beginning was responsible for bombing the civil population? You can only say that it was the British and the Americans because they had the big engines – the 4 engine planes. We didn’t. Later we had the Heinkel E 177. I flew it, I experienced it. A remarkable plane, but the double engine, 4 together wasn’t, in my experience, right for warfare.
You wrote a brilliant description of flying over Dunkirk in the end of May 1940, hitting the 1st ship and sinking the 2nd. You were hit by flak and had to come down and fortunately you came down in German lines.
No, that were not the German lines it was between the lines of the Germans and the British. I had to creep.
That must have been anxious moments. You must have worried whether you would be able to survive and whether, if you did survive, you would be taken prisoner. That was the 1st time your plane came down and you seem to keep a very cool head. Do you think you were good in times of crisis and you knew what you had to do?
Not everyone is.
My crew always said that I was extraordinarily calm in the plane, even when there were fighters and flak around us – like the British upper stiff lip. The observer looked up to me and I looked back to him. You had to do it. It needs a bit of energy to take this role. It is not easy.
Did you make several flights over Dunkirk?
Yes, 2 or 3.
Did you see the smoke of the burning port? Other people said that you could see the smoke of Dunkirk 100’s of miles in the sky.
Yes at Dunkirk, there was smoke. There was a big cloud and so I tried to get into the clouds and forget the fighters.
So, there were plenty of RAF fighters?
They were always present.
I don’t know if you know, but there was this accusation at the time, from the Tommies on the ground, that the RAF weren’t there. And the RAF said, ‘We were above the clouds.’
I didn’t. To go back to your earlier question about how we did so many missions. It was purely survival. Also, over Britain for example, we had a trip about 30 minutes, but the British had to go to Berlin. That was three times longer.
What was the accommodation like at Schiphol?
There were houses. 1 house for 5 people.
Where the conditions good? You had a good bed and you were fed well? Was it comfortable?
The houses were empty, they were requisitioned, near the airfield. The German Luftwaffe had their own furniture. There was a house for dining, one for operations and so on. There were more houses.
In one house, was it officers only or together with your crew?
5 or 6 officers in 1 house. The other crew were next to it.
When you weren’t flying what would you do? Play cards, read books, write letters?
We went to the little village. The population was all right.
Could you buy food and drink from the population?
We met girls. And I stayed in the house of that girl and they asked, ‘Will you win the war?’ and we answered, ‘Of course we will win the war!’ They learned from the newspapers and the radio that the Germans were everywhere. In Africa, in the Balkans and so on. The mood was good.
What was the process by which you learned where you were be flying that day? Did you have a briefing in the evening or first thing in the morning? Were all the different Staffeln brought together or were the briefings Staffel by Staffel?
When we had to start at midnight we had dinner and then went to sleep. Then was the raid and off we went to the airfield.
Wasn’t there a briefing before?
Yes, before the dinner.
What about a daylight raid over Britain in the summer of 1940? Would the briefing be in the morning?
Yes, in the morning. That would have been a normal day.
Was everybody there?
Yes, the whole group. But sometimes, if we flew as a staffel it was in that way that I had a briefing with the staffel leaders and they passed the information on to their men.
The briefing for the staffel leaders. Where was that held? Was it the airfield or at head quarters?
It was a special big room with all the cards, maps.
Was there a briefing on weather conditions?
Yes, a meteorologist was there.
Who would give the briefing?
The commander in chief. When I was the commander of 3 units I got the target and then I could decide how to do it. If I wanted to go by night or day. I varied. That was within 24 hours. But this wasn’t the case in the Battle of Britain. It was more formations.
After the fall of France in June 1940 did you and your fellows all think that Britain would capitulate, ask for peace?
That was different. We certainly hoped, but we didn’t think that Britain would surrender. Later on in 1941 when I was in France with a flying corps there were talks. What would we do, what would England do? That was sometime before the campaign against Russia. I listened to interesting talks when General Koehler and his staff talked. I was sometimes there. It was just like a puzzle. My chiefs said, let us go over to England, it is possible. But if we wait the British troops will have time to rearm. But then what about the British Navy? People said that the British navy wouldn’t dare to come in from the Orkneys and operate in the Channel, directly in front of our house door. I dreamed of bombing the Rodney or the Nelson, battleships that were 30 m wide and I think it would have been possible. Why Hitler didn’t do it, I don’t know.
A book has been recently published in Britain which claims that the Royal navy would always have prevented any German invasion. My personal view is that with a combination of the u-boats and the Luftwaffe you would have sunk the British navy without great difficulties.
I don’t know if Britain could have been defended. The big ships – they couldn’t appear in the Channel. It was impossible. It was a training ground for us, 3 or 4 times a day. And even the smaller boats, the destroyers, they were there from Portland to Southampton along the coast, there were always 15 or 20, of this sort. They were more dangerous than the big ships. But they were not so well armed with flak artillery.
You carried out a number of mine laying operations?
What was the process of doing that? You’d fly over the Channel at a certain height, dropped down and then released the mine and it would just drop into the water? How did you actually do it? What sort of height would you fly?
The mine laying and the positioning of the mines was a very dangerous thing. For instance – Plymouth – was such a bay and there was only a small passage into the port. We had to fly through the passage but the British had positioned very, very heavy flak and automatic weapons. But we had to go down to only 300 or 200 m and we had to pass slowly through this passage at just 300km/h or so. It was a terrible thing to pass through there.
What sort of mines were you laying?
1000 kg. Every ship of 5000 tons or so would explode, they were gone.
Did you ever get hit on these occasions?
I never saw what I did. Later, though, we might hear by radio.
I remember, you said that you were hit by a barrage balloon at Southampton. You mentioned it very briefly but didn’t go into any detail.
Yes, yes. That was unpleasant. The balloons were a sort of barricade and sometimes when the wind was strong the balloons went up to 2000m. I had to fly the mines under the velocity of 300 km/h. They were parachute mines and they would float down and the mine would explode on the surface of the water. I flew by plane down to 250m and while I was doing this manoeuvre to drop the mine, I went into the balloon. I tipped up. The mine was still there. The mine was on the parachute. There’s a lot to consider because if the wind blows too strong it would go on the shore. The time of the fall of the mine must be very short that the wind couldn’t affect the bomb.
Can you remember what sort of losses your staffel was suffering during the summer of 1940? Were they high?
If we lost 2 planes that was ok. That was at the beginning. The British weren’t prepared for the sophistication of our mines. They were not able to handle the explosives lying on the ground of the sea. They were magnetic. And if a ship goes over the mine nothing happened, but sometimes after the 2nd or 3rd time it could explode combined with the noise of the ship, the propeller.
Do you think it was successful when you looked at the losses and so on and what you achieved?
The British had a fleet of 900 vessels going round the island to detect the mines and explode them. That was a big effort. When I flew to Malta I only had some 200l for 3000kg bombs. That was my record in the Junkers 88 and that was never broken.
But in the summer of 1940 did you always have enough supplies?
Yes, yes! But of course, there were younger people and they were not so experienced.
And did you notice as replacement crews and pilots arrived that they were less trained?
As the staffel leader I had to think about the mission and allocate the task for instance placing a mine at Lands End. And there was this young lad who was keen on flying his 1st mission. He lamented and I gave in but he never came back. The replacement pilots were good at flying but didn’t have any experience.
When you were flying over towards Britain did you ever see any of the invasion barges being built up in the ports along France?
No, I always wondered about this and asked lots of officers what happened. It was difficult.
Did you think at the time, you and your comrades, were you expecting the invasion to happen? Did you all think that was the plan?
I would like to ask you about the commanders. You met them all. Kesselring, how was he? Was he a good commander?
Yes, he had a good opinion about me and I about him. He was a good man. I met him before the war when we did strategic games.
You liked him as a person?
You obviously knew Goering very well. Did you like him as a person? Was he easy to get on with? Was he likeable?
Yes, I had a lot to do with Goering and we met a lot. He came to see me at my units, at my division. Yes, I have a certain picture of him. There were many talks with him, also in private, also with his wife Karinhall.
As a human being, was he ok?
Where is a politician a human being?
Did you find him approachable? He obviously would listen to what you said. He seemed to have that ability to listen to younger people, pilots like you. Were you be able to be frank with him?
He was an absolute practitioner from his time in the 1st World War. You could talk to him about your personal difficulties.
You felt he was listening?
Yes, of course! He was engaged with the economy in Germany. His point was Germany and Berlin but the other part of the administration was in East Prussia, in Rastenburg. There was a certain rivalry between these positions. From Rastenburg came the daily ideas like give me that, we also need that and so on. But that was not possible. This was a very difficult situation. They were rivals to Goering and they were with Hitler in Rastenburg. And in general when something went wrong, for instance when your Harris bombers became too successful, then it was Goering who was guilty. That was often the case. And producing and supplying fighter and bomber planes was not the initial matter of Goering. It was in the hands of the general staff – before the war. And the consequences during the war was in the hands of the Fuehrer. And Goering couldn’t prevent it. That was a very difficult chapter. You can’t talk about it in a very short time. You have to read many, many books. I read a book about Harris and his bomber force and the whole warfare on the British Command but the author didn’t ask Harris for his consent or let him know what he wrote about him.
It is still a very sore subject in Britain. It is very divisive. And there are those who think it was a good thing and there are many more who think it wasn’t a good thing. I think, most people in Britain are rather ashamed of it, to be honest.
About the bomber?
A few years ago there was a statue of bomber Harris put up in London. And it was daubed in red paint within 24 hours. Someone had thrown red paint over, desecrated it. It is still a raw subject. A lot of people feel guilty about it.
But the Queen Mother had introduced him?
That’s right. It is still a difficult subject in Britain.
How is it possible? But you won the war?
Yes, but as time passes people start to question what was happening?
Especially about bomber Harris?
Always, always bomber Harris. Right from the end of the war. You know, because too many civilians have been killed as a result.
But the Queen visited his staff during the bombing near London and Churchill was there as well. And all these people praised him.
Yes, but not, once the war was over. Churchill distanced himself from Harris very quickly, because immediately everyone realised that killing hundreds of thousands of people is a stain on your war records.
I read in a German newspaper about this war museum in Canada and that it was a catastrophe what Harris did in Germany. But people protested against it.
If we just could go back to the operations over Britain. Can you remember being attacked by British fighters – in 1940. Have you ever been shot at or did you have a Spitfire on your tail? Between July and October 1940.
Yes, of course. That was at the beginning. I was hit and did an emergency landing on the water. That was near the coast. We stood on the back of the aeroplane in the water.
Can you remember any attacks of airfields in England?
Yes. I don’t have a recollection of place names. But we did it with stray bombs and splinter bombs.
It seems from reading your book that the Luftwaffe had a healthy respect of the opposition, the enemy.
The fighters? Yes, of course. At any time but that was vice versa.
It is very interesting because the British myth of the Battle of Britain is that Britain was David against the Luftwaffe Goliath. But talking to former pilots that doesn’t seem to be the way. German pilots said, ‘We were flying over Britain and there were always Spitfires waiting.’ British pilots said, ‘We were flying over Germany and there were always Messerschmitts waiting. The same story.’ You were obviously confident of victory, but defeating the RAF was a hard task.
What we could do, what the others could do and what the others did better. It is a long time ago.
Did you ever drink at all, did you have time off or did you fly, fly, fly all the times? Where there any lighter moments? Pilots in Britain could go to the pub, let steam off, had time to relax.
I was a staffel captain and I tried to improve things. I didn’t have much time. Meeting those girls was an exception. I used the spare time to write reports, I didn’t waste time.
Did you have a mascot, a charm?
No, but other people had some.
After the war you became a lawyer. Did you knew of any organisations to help German’s being sought by the Allies as war criminals. In your opinion was there ever an Odessa, an organisation, or was it a myth?
I have managed lots of court cases and there was an investigation against me because I have defended someone, who denied there was a holocaust. I can’t talk about my opinion, about all this. It is too dangerous for me.
Even now. I have to say that in my own opinion it is pointless.
Hans-Joachim “Hajo” Herrmann (1 August 1913 – 5 November 2010)