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Dietrich Hrabak
File:Dietrich Hrabak.jpg
Dietrich Hrabak
Nickname "Dieter"
Born (1914-12-19)19 December 1914
Died 15 September 1995(1995-09-15) (aged 80)
Place of birth Groß-Deuben, Saxony
Place of death Pfaffenhofendisambiguation needed
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (to 1945)
West Germany West Germany
Service/branch Kriegsmarine (1934–1935)
Luftwaffe(1935–1945), (1955–1970)
Years of service 1934–1945, 1955–1970
Rank Oberst (World War II)
Generalmajor (Bundeswehr)
Unit JG 138, JG 76, JG 54 , JG 52
Commands held II./JG 54, JG 54, JG 52

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves
Other work Bundeswehr

Dietrich "Dieter" Hrabak (born 19 December 1914 in Groß-Deuben, now a part of Böhlen, Saxony, died 15 September 1995 in Pfaffenhofendisambiguation needed) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1935 until the end of World War II on 8 May 1945 and again in the Bundeswehr from 1955 until his retirement on 30 September 1970. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat.[1] During World War II he shot down 125 enemy aircraft achieved in over 1000 combat missions. 109 of his victories were claimed over the Eastern front, with 16 against the Western Allies.

Military career

Hrabak showed an interest in aviation from an early age, but joined the German navy in 1934. Two years later he transferred to the Luftwaffe, and qualified as a pilot. In 1938 Hrabak was posted to the Vienna Jagdgruppe, I./JG 138. This unit was later redesignated I./JG 76 during the Polish Campaign, before becoming II./JG 54 in April 1940.

During the Polish Campaign, Hrabak was shot down (the first of 11 times) on his first mission, making a belly landing. On 13 May 1940, he claimed his first victory, a French Potez 63 and he claimed five more victories before the armistice. During the Battle of Britain, Hrabak was a member of JG 54, becoming Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 54 on 26 August 1940. During the Battle of Britain he added ten victories against Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters and Field Marshal Hermann Göring personally decorated Hrabak with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes).

Hrabak served in the Balkans campaign and when Operation Barbarosa began in the Soviet Union, he flew on the northern front and over Leningrad. In November 1942, he left JG 54 to become Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52—52nd Fighter Wing). Under Hrabak JG 52 became the highest scoring Geschwader with over 10,000 victories. In August 1943 he got his 100th victory and in November was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross, the 337th soldier to be thus awarded. He had 118 victories. On 20 September 1944, Hrabak scored the last of his 125 victories.

In October 1944 Hrabak returned to JG 54, serving as its last Geschwaderkommodore until the end of the war. His greatest contribution to the Luftwaffe was not his combat record however but his command, tactical and leadership qualities, which endeared him to the men under his command and sealed his reputation within the Luftwaffe leadership.

After the war, he worked in the automotive and chemical industry until 1953 when Chancellor Konrad Adenauer asked him to help form the new German Air Force. In 1956 he commanded the Advanced Pilot Training Center at Fürstenfeldbruck. In 1962 he took charge of the air defense covering northern Germany and the Netherlands. In 1964 he was named NATO's Chief of Air Defense/Central Europe until becoming special manager for the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter programme. As a major general, he commanded the GAF's tactical command. General Hrabak died peacefully 15 September 1995 in Pfaffenhofen.


Dietrich Hrabak was famous for saying: "If you return from a mission with a victory, but without your Rottenflieger [Wingman], you have lost your battle."


Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
3 September 1944 (addendum) Das auf allen Kriegsschauplätzen bewährte Jagdgeschwader 52 erzielte unter Führung seine Kommodore, Eichenlaubträger Oberstleutnant Hrabak, seinen 10 000 Luftsieg.[7] The on all theatres of war well proven 52nd Fighter Wing under the leadership of its Wing Commander, Oak Leaves bearer Oberstleutnant Hrabak, achieved its 10 000th aerial victory.


  1. Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
  2. Obermaier 1989, p. 59.
  3. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 200.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thomas 1997, p. 306.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 236.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 75.
  7. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 231.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945]. Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001) (in German). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003) (in German). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz]. Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Major Herbert Ihlefeld
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 52
November 1, 1942 – September 30, 1944
Succeeded by
Oberstleutnant Hermann Graf
Preceded by
Oberstleutnant Anton Mader
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 54 Grünherz
October 1, 1944 – May 8, 1945
Succeeded by

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