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  #1  
Old 3rd July 2007, 15:50
indianer indianer is offline
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USAF pilots of german descent

Apologies for copying my post from over at LEMB but wanted your views ..

Hi All,
Maybe this has been brought up earlier - I believe (read on the internet that close to 30% of US citizens have German ancestry ? Anyway, during the war, many were in key senior positions (Ike, Nimitz, Spaatz), but surely the most ironic would have been the USAF pilots flying and fighting over "the old country" ? Two examples to, so to speak, tweak the "irony-meter" :

Capt. Werner G. Goering, USAF, nephew of the Reichsmarschall, who flew 48 missions abroad a B-17 ;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_G._Goering

Lt. Boeing, Luftwaffe, KIA, relative of the founder William Boeing, who was of german descent (source : Bowman etc. "Jane's Battles with the Luftwaffe", unfortunately not to hand, has a picture of the funeral).

Plenty of germanic names among USAF pilots keep propping up - Robert Goebel, even Hub Zemke ?

So my question is :- were the USAF pilots of germanic heritage so "assimilated" that they thought nothing of flying over or bombing the "old country" or there were some heartaches there ? If they were shot down and captured, did any consequences follow based on their patronyms ?

TIA.....
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  #2  
Old 4th July 2007, 03:10
kb kb is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

Quote:
Originally Posted by indianer View Post
were the USAF pilots of germanic heritage so "assimilated" that they thought nothing of flying over or bombing the "old country" or there were some heartaches there ?
TIA.....
Seriously doubt there were any misgivings about bombing the ancestral homeland, unless the pilots were first generation German-Americans with fresh ties to the Fatherland.
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Old 4th July 2007, 03:22
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

Hub Zemke was a German, at least as such was remembered by Gabby. If I recall correctly, he mentioned Hub had some problems or interviews when released from Barth, being accused of some cooperation with Germans, but this turned out unfounded.
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Old 5th July 2007, 03:22
mayfair35 mayfair35 is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

When WW II broke out, it was said that 40% of the Americans had some German ancestors. My grandfather came over in 1880, my father born in 1892 fought in France, and I in WW II. I assure you that none of my fellow pilots, many of German extraction had the slightest concern that we were fighting Germans. We WERE NOT German-Americans but Americans. None of that hyphenated someone that is so popular today!

My wife's Uncles, sons of a German emigrant, all fought in WW I and 3 were wounded in action. The difference between then and now was that emigrants were coming here for a better life. To be a citizen, they had to renounce any alligance to their former country, again not as it is today with the dual citizenship and thus divided loyalty.

The above is not to say that there was no "fondness" of many American citizens who had close relatives still in Germany. Such was the case with my wife's parents but they were not the ones fighting, it was their children who as such considered themselves Americans. Still when I graduated as a pilot and was escorted to all the local taverns in our town, many of our parents' acquaintances of German background, congratulated me and hoped I would slaughter all those yellow b-------. They often mentioned that there were a lot of fine German people whom they hoped I would not have to fight against. As history says, we were patriotic young Americans who were responding to our country's call in its period of need and an enemy was an enemy!

Bill Margetts, a fellow pilot in the 325th FG of German extraction, had to crash land in Czechoslovakia and became a POW. During his interrogation by a German who had lived in Detroit, an attempt was made to make him feel sorry he was fighting against relatives. Bill handled the sessions very well and pointed out that it was Germany who first declared war against the USA.

Cordially, Art Fiedler

Last edited by mayfair35; 5th July 2007 at 03:31. Reason: Forgot to answer a question
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  #5  
Old 5th July 2007, 05:04
rldunn rldunn is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

Assimilation came at various paces in different locations and circumstances. The research of Dieter Kunz showed that in western Maryland, for example, records of most German speaking churches changed from German to English in the 1820's to 1840's. At the same time some names were changed (anglicized) and various associations tended to delete the German-ness of the ethnic Germans. In contrast not far away in southern Pennsylvania the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch still speak German (yet all these folks consider themselves only American not German-American). Also in southern Pennsylvania at the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg many Union Regiments were made uo entirely of German spaeking troops. Whole divisions and even a corps were predominately ethnic Germans. In WW1 a law was passed in Nebreska making it illegal to speak German. In Baltimore, Maryland, Germany Street became Redwood Street.

In the 1930's there was some interest in the German-American Bund but these folks were mostly recent immigrants. By that time most people of German heritage were fully integrated into US society and many were even ignorant of their German heritage.

Rick Dunn
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Old 5th July 2007, 06:29
kaki3152 kaki3152 is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

I do remember that one of Luftwaffe interrogators went to Germany before the war, served on a Stuka group and became a POW interrogator after being wounded. After the war he went back to Rochester,NY and was spotted by one of his POWs!
(Stranger in a Strange Land-Stapfer)
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Old 5th July 2007, 08:48
indianer indianer is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

Very interesting posts, gentlemen esp those of a personal nature .. pls keep them coming ..
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Old 5th July 2007, 21:58
JoeB JoeB is offline
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Re: USAF pilots of german descent

In "Thunderbolt" Johnson related a story where 56th FG pilots attended a British briefing, and had to sign in afterward. As as a joke all the pilots with German surnames signed first, starting with Zemke. It was a fair list of names. Unfortunately I no longer have the book and don't recall the others.

About the longer history, although some Germans emigrated to the US not long before WWII, others came in Colonial times. The issue of their non-assimilation in places (like PA, as mentioned re: American Civil War), or suspected dual loyalties in a war against Germany (WWI) had been around and considered from many angles before WWII. I think that context is important. We're not speaking of a mainly pretty recent immigrant group suddenly exposed to the issue of fighting for the US, including against the home or ancestral country. The Japanese-Americans (sorry, hyphenation is sometimes simple descriptive) fit that scenario somewhat better. The Japanese case also shows that actual divided loyalties are not the only issue, but the larger society's preconceptions about the particular group.

Joe
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Old 9th July 2007, 02:10
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Eagle0025 Eagle0025 is offline
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Smile Re: USAF pilots of german descent

My father, Don Koch, was a P-38 pilot with the 474th FG. His grandparents emigrated from Hardheim, Germany in the late 1800's. After he was shot down on 25 Aug 44, his German interrogators questioned him profusely on how a person of German descent could fight against his homeland. Needless to say, my father had no qualms about killing Germans back then.

Cheers, Gary Koch
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