Military Wiki
Günther Freiherr von Maltzahn
Born (1910-10-20)20 October 1910
Died June 24, 1953(1953-06-24) (aged 42)
Place of birth Wodarg, Province of Pomerania
Place of death Düsseldorf
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer (1931 – 1935)
Luftwaffe (1935 – 1945)
Years of service 1931 – 1945
Rank Oberst
Unit JG 53
Commands held II./JG 53, JG 53

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Oberst Günther Freiherr von Maltzahn[Note 1] (20 October 1910 – 24 June 1953) was a German World War II Luftwaffe Flying ace and Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53) and a winner of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Legally it was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Günther Freiherr von Maltzahn.[Note 2]


Von Maltzhan was born 20 October 1910 in Wodarg, Pomerania. A member of the German aristocracy, Günther von Maltzhan could use the title of Freiherr (Baron). Von Matzahn entered the cavalry in 1931 although he had already undergone flight training at the commercial flying school in Schleissheim. In mid 1930s, von Maltzahn was joined the Luftwaffe as a flying instructor. In 1937 he was posted to 6./Jagdgeschwader 334 as a Staffelkapitän, the unit later renumbered 6./Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53).

By September 1939, von Maltzahn, as Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 53, led his unit through the Polish campaign, the Battle of France and the Low Countries and the Battle of Britain. On 9 October 1940 he was promoted Geschwaderkommodore of JG 53, and on 30 December was awarded the Knight's Cross, for 12 air victories, and also for his work organizing and leading the unit.

In 1941 JG 53 participated in the Invasion of the Soviet Union, achieving high numbers of air victories against the Soviet Air Force. Major Von Maltzahn reached 43 kills and on 24 July 1941 received the Oak Leaves. In September 1941 JG 53 was withdrawn from frontline duties to Holland for rest and refit. The Geschwader was then sent to Sicily in December and participated in the battles over Malta and the Mediterranean.

Von Maltzahn reached 68 victories before leaving JG 53 in October 1943, assuming various staff positions with the Luftwaffenbefehlshabers Mitte (Luftwaffe Command of the Mediterranean), and later Jagdfliegerführer Italien, (Chief of Operations in Italy). In February 1945 he was detached to 9 Fliegerdivision, until the end of the war.

After the war Maltzahn worked in agriculture and then in the new Luftwaffe. He died in 1953 in Düsseldorf at the age of 43, due to illness.

Oberst Gunther Freiherr von Maltzahn flew 497 missions and claimed 68 victories, 33 in Russia. He fought on the Western Front, Eastern Front and the Mediterranean.


Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Monday, 18 November 1940 Ein Jagdgeschwader unter der Führung des Majors von Maltzahn errang am 15. November seinen 501. Luftsieg.[5] A fighter wing under the leadership of Major von Maltzahn achieved its 501st aerial victory on November 15.


  1. Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron), which is now legally a part of the last name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
  2. Until late September 1941, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign, in the military order of the Third Reich. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as highest military order was officially surpassed on 28 September 1941 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern), however the first presentation of the Swords to Adolf Galland was made prior to this date on 21 June 1941.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thomas 1998, p. 55.
  2. Obermaier 1989, p. 46.
  3. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 293.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 525.
  5. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 363.
  • 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. 
  • Prien, Jochen (1997). Jagdgeschwader 53 A History of the "Pik As" Geschwader March 1937 - May 1942. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military History. ISBN 0-7643-0175-6.
  • 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. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Williamson, Gordon & Bujeiro, (2005). Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves Recipients 1941-45. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-642-9.
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Major Hans-Jürgen von Cramon-Taubadel
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 53 Pik As
October 1940 – October 1943
Succeeded by
Major Friedrich-Karl Müller
Preceded by
Commander of Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien
October 5, 1943 – December, 1944
Succeeded by
Oberst Eduard Neumann

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