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Günther Schack
Günther Schack
Born (1917-11-12)12 November 1917
Died 14 June 2003(2003-06-14) (aged 85)
Place of birth Bartenstein
Place of death Schmidt near Nideggen
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1939–1945
Rank Major
Unit JG 51, JG 3
Commands held 9./JG 51, I./JG 51, IV./JG 3

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

Günther Schack (12 November 1917 – 14 June 2003) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1939 until the end of World War II in 1945. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat.[1] He was a recipient of the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross in recognition of his combat success. He claimed 174 enemy aircraft shot down, all of them on the Russian front. He survived being shot down 15 times during his 780 combat missions.[2] After the war he lived secluded in the Eifel Mountains, and devoted himself to philosophical research.

Early life

Günther Schack was born in Bartenstein, a small town in Eastern Prussia, on 12 November 1917 as the son of Dr. Willy Schack and his wife, Dorothea (maiden name: Nietzki). He studied at the University of Stuttgart and at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule in Aachen. In 1937, when he first tried to join the Luftwaffe, he was categorised as wehruntauglich (unsuited for military service) because of a sports injury earlier in his life.[3][4]

Military career

Günther Schack resubmitted an application as a volunteer and was accepted into the Luftwaffe on 2 September 1939.[5] After being trained as a fighter pilot, Gefreiter (Private) Schack was posted to 7th Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—7th Squadron of the 51st Fighter Wing) on 18 March 1941.[6][Note 1]

Schack claimed his first aerial victory in combat on 23 July 1941 on the Eastern front. Unlike many of the new pilots on the Eastern Front in 1941, he struggled to score against the poorly led and poorly trained Soviet pilots. He only achieved his third air victory after 100 combat missions, on 10 November 1941. He flew his 250th combat mission on 30 July 1942, when he claimed only his 5th aerial victory.[6] In that time though, he had been promoted to the rank of Unteroffizier (Corporal). In November 1942, with his personal score now at 18, his unit returned to Jesau in East Prussia to re-equip onto the new Focke Wulf Fw 190A fighter.

File:Emil Lang Oak Leaves.jpg

Alfred Grislawski, Emil Lang, Günther Schack (3rd from left), Otto Kittel and Anton Hafner receiving the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves from Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring at the Berghof, Obersalzberg on 5 May 1944. Hafner is shaking Hitler's hand

He returned to the Eastern front, still serving in the 7./JG 51, whereupon his career started to take off. On 17 December 1942, on his first mission back at the front, Schack shot down five Soviet Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers within minutes of each other.[7] Six weeks later, on 29 January 1943 Schack almost repeated this when his Schwarm (flight of four aircraft), on a Junkers Ju 87 escort mission, encountered eight Soviet Petlyakov Pe-2 flying in a line astern crossing the German lines at Novosil. Within five minutes all eight were shot down including four by Schack.[8][9] He was promoted to Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) on 1 January 1943, and after his 48th aerial victory (on 1 April 1943), he was ordered back to Germany to serve as a flight instructor with Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost.

He returned to the front in early July 1943, this time posted to 8./JG 51, and back on the Bf 109-G. Part of III./JG 51, it was based at Bryansk covering the northern pincer attack for the Battle of Kursk. He claimed 10 victories in July and but then a further 40 in August. Flying out of Konotop on 1 September, he flew four missions, and had to belly-land after each one. He reached his century-mark in aerial combat on 3 September 1943, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 26 October for 116 victories. On 9 December 1943, as an Oberleutnant, he was made Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 9./JG 51.

1944 saw the German forces pushed inexorably out of Russia and III./JG 51 covered the retreat of Army Group Centre, moving from Orsha to Terespol then back to Minsk and Kaunus, with Günther scoring consistently. Oberleutnant Schack was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 20 April 1944 for 133 aerial victories.[10] Schack was then promoted to Hauptmann (Captain) on 1 July 1944 and on 13 August became the 28th pilot to score 150 victories. On 16 December 1944, he became a Gruppenkommandeur (Group Commander), in charge of I./JG 51. By now, the Gruppe had been forced back to the Baltic coast in East Prussia. On 12 April he had to bale out following aerial combat, and suffered serious burns. Soon after, in late April, the Gruppe was disbanded, and on 1 May 1945, he was named the final commander of the IV./ JG3 "Udet". By the end of the war, he had scored 174 victories in 780 aerial combats, and was shot down 15 times (taking to his parachute four times).

Later life

Schack was once shot down by Lieutenant Hollis "Bud" Nowlin of the 357th Fighter Group over East Prussia. Nowlin and Schack met again first in Germany and then again in the fall of 1991 at the 357th Fighter Group reunion in Georgia.[11]

After the war Günther Schack worked as a Sales Manager in his uncle's manufacturing company. In 1968, he resigned from his job, left his wife and his three children and began a new life in an isolated cottage in the isolated Eifel mountains, where he lived as a vegetarian, cultivating his own food. During this time, he tried to deal with the trauma of his war experience, and to develop and propagate his own philosophy of life: the "Homokratie".[citation needed]



  • Schack, Günther (1995). Betet für die Juden, betet für die Christen. Nideggen. ISBN 3-9800329-3-0.
  • Schack, Günther (1975). Die Homokratie im Erdkreis.
  • Schack, Günther (1975). Die Homokratie im Lebenskreis.
  • Schack, Günther (1975). Die Homokratie im Völkerkreis.


  1. For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Luftwaffe Organization
  2. According to Obermaier on 16 January 1943.[6]


  1. Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
  2. Spick 1996, p. 228.
  3. Luftwaffe 39-45 Historia website.
  4. Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  5. Aces of the Luftwaffe website.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Obermaier 1989, p. 65.
  7. OKL 1942
  8. Weal 1996, pp. 14–15.
  9. OKL 1943
  10. Weal 2001, p. 78.
  11. Klinkowitz 1996, p. 64.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Thomas 1998, p. 245.
  13. Patzwall 2008, p. 177.
  14. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 397.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 653.
  • Aders, Gebhard & Held, Werner (1993). Jagdgeschwader 51 'Mölders' Eine Chronik - Berichte - Erlebnisse - Dokumente (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-01045-3.
  • 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. 
  • Klinkowitz, Jerome (1996). Yanks Over Europe: American Flyers in World War II. Kentucky, USA: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1961-8.
  • 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. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. (2008) (in German). Der Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg [The Honor Goblet for Outstanding Achievement in the Air War]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-08-3. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005) (in German). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch – Zwernemann [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color III Radusch – Zwernemann]. Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5. 
  • 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 (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. 
  • Weal, John (1996). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Russian Front. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-518-7.
  • Weal, John (2001). Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84176-084-6.
  • Weal, John (2006). Aviation Elite Units: Jagdgeschwader 51 'Mölders. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-84603-045-5.

External links

Military Offices held

Military offices
Preceded by
Oberleutnant Maximilian Mayerl
Squadron Leader of 9./JG 51
9 December 1943 – 26 October 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Major Erich Leie
Group Commander of I./JG 51
16 December 1944 – 23 April 1945
Succeeded by
none: unit disbanded
Preceded by
Hptm Gerhard Koall
Group Commander of IV./JG 3
1 May 1945 – 9 May 1945
Succeeded by
none: end of war

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