Günther Rall's lecture |
The early war |
War in the east |
Back to Germany |
Questions and Answers |
Short private interview |
Background of the visit |
Photo report and private interview 2 |
The 275 victory ace, Günther Rall, visited Finland in June 2003 and gave lectures about his career during the war and during the post war years in newly born Luftwaffe and NATO.
The lecture by Günther Rall was arranged by the Aviation Museum Society, Finland.
Mr. Rall has given permission to the Finnish Virtual Pilots Association to publish the lecture in print and as video. The video is not yet published.
Recording: Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel
Tape transcription: Eric Kent, Kev "Kokpit" Gregory and Brendan Bayne.
Proofreading and editing: Jukka O. Kauppinen
Corrections: Erick Sart, Raimo Malkamäki
Photos: Jukka Kauppinen aka Grendel, Pentti "Buffalo" Kurkinen, Erkki "Eni" Nieminen, Riku "Panzzer" Vaskuu, Matti "My" Yrjölä
More information about mr. Rall and his private interview can be read from our photo report: Günther Rall, Luftwaffe ace
in Finland June 2003.
Quick look at mr. Rall:
His story spans a childhood in a defeated country, two world wars, the calamity of the Nazi regime, the Cold War, the jet age, his distinguished service as a NATO military representative, his work with the US Air Force, and chief of the new German Air Force. In civilian life Rall has been one of the most sought-after military consultants and advisors by international agencies, ministries of defense, and multinational corporations.
- Joined the German army 1936
- Joined the Air Force 1938
- 275 aerial victories, 272 in east
- Joined Bundesluftwaffe 1956, trained in the USA to jets, F-84 and F-104
- Jagdbombergeschwader 34 commander
- NATO Defence College
- Brigadier General 1966
- Commander of German Air Force 1970-1974
- German military attache of NATO, 1974-1975
This is Work In Progress version of the article.
There are place names, person names and various other things which are unclear to the author. If you are willing you can download the MP3 sound files and try to find out what mr. Rall said. All scrambled or non-clear parts are marked with "## timestamp part number", which makes it easy to find them.
Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Part 3 -
Please use the Feedback-system for corrections. Thanks a lot!
Günther Rall's lecture
I didn't know what the speaker said, but I hope it's true!
I'm very pleased, very honored, to be here in Finland. This is
the first time. I was in Norway, was in Sweden, as a pilot, but never
in Finland. But now I made it, and I'm very happy and I'm very
grateful for that.
The talk today is about a time that's about fifty years ago, and we are
focused on the World War II which was for us a catastrophe, but
anyway.... We young generation were challenged like never before, and I
think like never after that.
I will tell you the highlights of the period over five and a half
years, and later on, my career also in the new German Air Force when I
had the pleasure to fly some very interesting aircraft. But I
think more vividly will be when we are finished and you and me start a
question and answer period, and then we can concentrate on the things
you are interested in.
Okay, I joined the army as a cadet in 1936. I wanted to become an
officer. And after the officer's examinations after one and half years,
and a promotion to Lieutenant, I switched to the Air Force because I
found my passion was on the aviation side, not on the marching.
Flying was much better and certainly I wanted to be a fighter pilot.
You know in those days the Air Force, newly built air force, didn't
have enough capacity to train their cadets, so they took cadets from
the officers, lieutenants, from the army and from the navy into the Air
And I made my wings in Neubiberg, near Münich; it took one year.
And then I went to the fighter school near Berlin, north east of
Berlin, with in those days famous instructor pilots like Galland,
Trautloft, Luetzow... All in the German Air Force, famous people.
And when I had finished, I was transferred to the Wing 52 (JG52) down
near Stuttgart, Boeblingen and the war started... right there when I
was finished and a trained fighter pilot.
The outbreak of war was, you know, after 20 years after World War I,
was quite a shock for the German people. There was no
enthusiasm. But, there was war. But we, as young pilots and
young officers certainly were challenged, and we wanted to do our duty
according our code of honor.
The early war
At the beginning, the wing was equipped then with a Me 109 E. You
know, this was the last model with the square wings-- wing tips, struts
and a 603 engine. What we didn't, this is still a question to me,
in the fighter school up in Werneuchen near Berlin, we still were
trained on Arado 68, the biplanes, and we still flew 3-ship formations,
close formations, which was already obsolete.
In the Spanish Civil War, the famous Moelders and Luetzow, they
developed the 4-ship formation which was much more flexible, you
know. The leader, we have two what we call Rotten. 4 were
the Schwarm, and 2 Rotten. You could turn every way, you know,
not in this stay-on-the-same-side close formation, but you are
flexible. This tactic was adopted for all the air forces during
the war, even the Russians. It took time, then we all changed to
the 4-ship formations which was a very flexible formation in the air.
At the early days of the war, you know, this was what the French called
the "drole de guerre" a False War, because we flew the Rhine really up
and down on the eastern side, and the French on the Western side, but
never crossed, because no one was sure is it really coming to a really
hot war. It changed in May '40, when the Germans invaded France. From
there it was clear what was going on.
There I had my first contact, my first victory. We had the order
to pick my squadron. I was a leader of the second Schwarm.
A squadron had 12 airplanes which means 3 Schwarms. 3 times
4: 4, 4, 4. I had the second Schwarm. And we
have to pick up a Heinkel 111. It came from the area of Nancy and
we had to pick her up and give her, escort her safely back home.
When we approached this area I saw already 10 spots in the air.
And this was 10 P-36s (Curtiss Hawk 75): French Air Force. French
Air Force in those days was not well equipped and didn't have masses of
airplanes. They had to buy American airplanes; and they bought the P-36
as a fighter.
So, we got engaged. You know, the first contact, it is a very exciting
thing. You are concentrated [sic], but you are excited, also.
And, as a second Schwarm, I came down on their second element.
And we started turning very roughly and dogfighting.
And there I discovered the first thing you have to consider in a
109. The 109 had slots. The slot had a purpose to increase
the lift during takeoff and landing. In the air automatically
it's pressed to the main wing. And if you turn very roughly you
got a chance, it's just by power, the wing, the forewing, comes out a
little bit, and you snap. This happened to me. I released the
stick immediately and it was ok then.
And in this dogfight I got my first hit. This French plane caught
fire, American plane from a French wing, caught fire. And right
when I was behind him, and the <puff> big flame, I got hit.
And you hear that, you know, the bullets: bang, bang. So it was a
confusing thing, the first dogfight.
And, due to fuel shortage we both broke up; French back home. They lost 3. We lost 1. And we back to Germany.
I always said this is, in a first contact, psychologically, (it's) good
to be a winner. This gives you self-confidence. And if you
are hit, it gives you a warning: The next time you could be that
one who is shot down. And these both psychological impressions
gave me throughout the war, this is a main thing: you are confident
that you are going to make it. If not, stop it, and pay
attention. You could be the one, not the other one.
During the war in France things happen; I don't elaborate on
this. After the battle over France we were pulled out, trained on
sea navigation, what we called in those days dead reckoning, you know,
with heading, time and speed. This was the only navigation system you
had. You had your airspeed indicator. You had your
"Horizont", compass and the time.
And then we were transferred to near Calais: Coquelles. You know
in those days there was not sure whether the German High Staff had a
plan to invade Great Britain. They didn't for Christ's
sake. It would be a catastrophe, those days. Because you
know, we discovered now, at the Battle against England, the Battle of
Britain, we were short in fuel like the British were; but they were
over their homeland.
We could just reach from Calais, as fighters, London. And we stayed 5
minutes over London and then we have to fly back. If there would
be a bigger air operation with bombers flying into the islands, the
British islands, they would have to fly without escort up from
London. And this would be a deadly operation.
We are now faced with Hurricanes, with Spitfires, and this was a
different quality - a different quality in equipment and a different
quality in leadership from the British. You know, they had a very
good system to direct their fighters according the threat they have to
And we were young, untrained, unexperienced group and had this silly
task to escort Ju-87s. You know, Ju-87s is a dive bomber, a
Stuka; heavy, slow in speed and if it carries a bomb it's even slower.
And so we had strict order to stay with them close. This means we
had to go down to the speed of a Ju-87 which gives up, gets rid of all
of our advantages. So we stalled over the British Channel and the
Spitfires just waited upstairs and shot us down. And, we lost a
lot of pilots: my squadron commander, my group commander and some
others. And all of a sudden I was, with 20 years, 22 years, a
squadron leader from the 8th squadron.
And this gives me the rule: a fighter has to have freedom in the air to
select his position. Only can he decide. And how he fights
is up to him. You cannot order from the ground "you stay there and do
this and this." The situation changes and it's up to the
qualified fighter pilots to find the right position, and a matter of
experience how to target it. It was a good lecture, but a very
painful lecture we got at the British Channel.
After a while, we went back and got new pilots, new airplanes and then
we were transferred down to Neusiedl am See, that's in Austria.
We just waited one week, and then the order came to go to
Romania. You know, Romania has a lot of oil in the Carpathian
Mountains and we had to protect this oil industry and towers. Konstanza
was the oil harbor, the big very important oil harbor of Romania, and
the bridges over the Danube river into Bulgaria, because there were
already plans for an aggression towards Bulgaria, towards Greece,
because the Italians had some problems storming Greece and they asked
During this time we trained also Romanian fighter pilots who had also
the 109 as an aircraft. It didn't take very long.
The war started down to Greece, Crete island. We were transferred down
to Athens and then to the south Peloponnesus, Molaoi, a very small
village at the south edge of the Peloponnesus.
And the war against Crete island started. And Crete island was a
horrible thing. First thing, the, you know, the attack forces
were parachuters, German parachuters and German mountaineers. One
came with the ships, the other ones by airplane, and the thing was the
whole operation was known to the New Zealanders who covered and
occupied Crete island in those days. The parachuters bailed out too
high, at 800 meters, which means the parachuters are hanging too long
and they were shot down. They lost all the officers and there was
one medical officer when he took over the command.
The place, the landing strip was Malemes. And we went to Malemes,
and there was not a big air battle. There was air-to-ground
mainly. And we had some problems because these Germans
troops had to be supported logistically. And weapons and
ammunition was dropped in containers from airplanes. And they
were, they had a round swastika flag as a national forward line.
And many, many of those containers were dropped just into the New
Zealanders and they took up the swastika flag. And we came
down, high speed at 30, 40 meters; we couldn't identify who's
who! This was our big problem; it was solved later on.
Crete [Kreta] was at the edge. But they made it.
And when Crete was finished we went back to Romania, and there we got a
new airplane. It was the 109 F. This was my beloved
aircraft. It was the first aircraft with the round wing tips, no
struts in the back, 605 engine (ed. DB 601), excellent, and not too
overloaded. You know, later on they put in this, and put in this,
and put in this. The aircraft became heavier, but not this
one. The F was my ideal aircraft.
And it had a very good weapon set. We had a 20 millimeter gun
through the propellor, and two 15 millimeters (actually 2 x 7,92 mms)
on top of the engine. It was enough.
War in the east
And we trained and we recognized that we'd been getting more and more
army forces. And we asked "what the hell is going on here?" So we
go to war against Russia. This was a shock for us. We
hadn't completed the war in the west and they opened a new front
without any deep knowledge. Thing of Napoleon, you know. You have
a space you cannot cover with this number of troops. This is
Again, we know how the war started. And in the evening I got the
order to take with my squadron, I was squadron leader of the 8th
squadron down to Mamaia. Mamaia was on the Black Sea, north of
Konstanza. Today it's a big beach, bar, and recreation
center. In those days it was just a plain lawn with one hangar,
and nobody there - no radar, no telephone, no nothing.
I landed with my squadron. Nothing was there. Then a flak
commander got the order to pick me up from Konstanza. He gave me an
introduction to sea and the front line. And we didn't have radar
and no warning; so we said okay. In the morning at dawn two
aircraft out 6000 meters over the Black Sea. The target must be
Konstanza for the Russians, nothing else. And all the others in
the squadron are in alert, cockpit alert: turn on the radio on the same
frequency and they'd report. They didn't take very long to come.
We took off, 6000 meters, and we just hit the DB-3 - without escort.
Again, it's an example: a bomber without escort by fighters, it's a
deadly operation. And the Russians lost within two weeks, I don't know,
25, 30 bombers, and that was the end. They never came. Certainly
we also had losses.
And there we discovered one thing: one NCO of my squadron - a very fine
man who got killed later on in the war; he was shot at 6000 meters and
he bailed out. And in this hazy area you don't see the horizon.
And when he comes down in the parachute he really doesn't know how high
he is. And he thought, it's about time to get released. He
released the parachute and fell down 60 meters into the sea.
What we did later on when we were over sea if you have to bail out, get
down, take you boots and drop them, and we you see the impact on the
sea. Then you know how high you are. But, you must have the
And after this, for the Russians, very very serious operation...
We were out on the sea, 3 Pe-2 came low over the Carpathian mountains.
They couldn't be discovered by radar and they attacked the base from the west.
We were out to the east over the Black Sea. And aircraft out
there for maintenance, etc, (the Russians) destroyed them. And we had
the loss of 40 mechanics and one of the top mechanics, a very,
very fine Viennese. He got killed. It was very bad for the
When this operation was finished we came in to Russia to a big tank
battle at Kiev. We're stationed at Biala Zerkow; Biala Zerkow is
today Ukraine, south of Kiev, and there I got my first shot down.
We had, again, to escort Ju-87s. This was a big tank battle south
of Kiev - many Russian tanks, many German tanks, a deadly operation.
And we had to escort down the Ju-87 because when they pulled up, right
there the Russian fighters came in. And when they were coming we
went down and shot.
And my, what we call Kaczmarek, my wingman called: "You got smoke!"
"Ach..." In other words I was hit in, from the ground, attacked from
the ground, the flak, anti-aircraft, in the oil cooler. You know, right
in the middle of the fuselage, underneath the engine, there's the oil
cooler. And then the oil comes out and just by the wind it's
blown like a film over the engine and over your windshield. You
don't see anything. It's a black film coming out.
My wingman told me, I was side by side - look at this, as I, you cannot
get out here, there we are dead men, you know. Down there -
there's the hell. I want to cross the Dnepr river, but I was not very
high. I was about three, four hundred meters high because we went down
with the Stuka. And I didn't know if there is a forward front
line for the Germans or whatever this, I don't know.... Beyond the
river it's much safer, but there was the woods.
To make the long story short, I was happy enough; I just got a cut in
the wood. And I made a belly landing, a very rough one, you know,
with this cut. I slipped down and I didn't know what's going on
here. Out, hiding behind a tree, and all of a sudden artillery,
I said, by golly, those are the Russians. Then I went from tree to tree
and all of a sudden in the distance of 20-30 meters there was a soldier
man: brown leather coat, hat, red star, boy! But I think, as he
approaches, I'd better think, approaching friendly, go to him.
And I went to him and what was it? It was a Slovakian officer.
They had a similar uniform with the red army but the Slovakians were on
our side. So it ended happily.
From there on we fought down... I mean this was my first shot down; it
happened eight times and different results. But I will touch this
a little bit later.
From there on we flew over the Dnepr river, Dnepropetrowsk, down to the
(##UNCLEAR place name tape 1) desert. That's north of the Crimean
[Krim] peninsula. And the Crimean peninsula, you know has an
access, it's a very small land bridge. And there's a Tartar ditch,
"Tartar Damm," which was a focus point for battles since centuries when
the Tartans were still there and fought the Russians.
Moelders was there. And Moelders was, in those days, the General for
Fighters. And he was not allowed anymore to fly personally
because he was highly decorated already, and he was the leader. I found
out this was the first time, we would today say: a Forward Air
Controller. He started with a Storch at dawn, the morning, down
there and direct it because all the operations concentrated over this
small land bridge. There was a hell of a battle in the air, on
Finally we broke through, down.... And then we were pulled out, my
group, to the east to the (##UNCLEAR place name tape 1) area,
this was between Taganrog and Rostow. And there....
Before that, we went up to Poltawa and Belaja Zerkow and Charkow . And you know, we lived in tents. I come to
this later: the psychological effect on a unit who is always moving,
living in tents - or the other ones, like in France flying in England;
and they have in the evening their white beds. They have their
sleeping room. They have the officers' mess. This is a different
And now when we were in Poltawa, in Charkow, and then in Taganrog, the
winter started. And, you know, the Germans were not prepared for
Our mechanics didn't have overalls because we had to face temperatures
down to -30 and -35 degrees. They worked in the open air with the
tools, iron, frozen hand. It was awful and the most illegal thing
was certainly the starting system of the 109. The 109, it has to
be cranked up. The pilot was sitting in the cockpit on the right
side of the mechanic and he cranked the machine and then chu chu chu
out (engine starts).
But at -30 degrees you never get an engine running. So we make
open fire underneath, what the hell, to overcome this. It was a
big, big problem. Certainly, there was a modification that we had
because of every starting system. After the last mission in the
day in the cockpit, engine running, we had a switch that pumped fuel in
the lubrication line so we got the lubrication filled and we could
start the engine. This helped quite a bit. Later on we got
cover underneath, but this was later.
But first experience was serious and dangerous. The first time I
was hit, this was between Taganrog and Rostov, about one afternoon, you know we're still on German time. This means at 2:30 it's almost dark. I flew a fighter
sweep with my wingman and we hit two Yaks. We had a ceiling which was
about 400 meters, down there snow and desert, nothing plain. I came in
and I got the first one of these Russian pilots and he was in flames.
It was already almost dark and was blinded. And this very moment, his second came and shot me and the engine was rip billowing, nothing happened anymore. It was on the Russian side so I tried to get as
far as I could to the west. And I saw exactly in landing direction,
what we call in Russia, a baikal. It's a little canyon about 40-50
meters deep and it was just across my landing direction. And I couldn't
turn. I was about 50-60 meters, low speed, no power. But I
got in, pulled it out, stalled and the only thing I saw the opposite
wall came against me and bang I was out. My wingman circled
around. German tanks were in the neighborhood and they saw it also and
picked me up.
It was a complete wreckage. There was no wing, no nothing
anymore, just the body. And luckily, the engine was thrown about
40 meters in the air, so no fire. They told me that the soldiers
came. They couldn't open the canopy. They opened it with a
file and a fork, pulled me out. Much later at night I came in a
truck to consciousness and I had awful pains. I was taken to the
first medical care at night which was awful. I was taken
away. I couldn't move and I was paralyzed. They took me
after a while, there was no x-ray, no nothing. The Germans were
in retreat. They took me by Ju-52 to Bucharest in Romania.
This was a normal peace time hospital where I was taken to x-ray.
And the doctor came and said Lt. you've broken your back 3 times in 3
places, forget flying. I waited a minute and said, "Doctor I will
fly." I got an extension cast and after awhile I was taken to Vienna with the Red Cross train. There I came to the hospital. I got a peaceful treatment, by the way, the doctor became my wife. I was 5 months in this extension cast.
It took about 8 months until I could return to my squadron. I
came there and just started before the attack started. Before
that I checked myself. I had a friend in Vienna when I was in the
hospital. He was a commander of a fighter school. I said I
wanted to check myself. He said, "come, get an airplane." I
got there and got a Bücker Jungmeister. You know Jungmeister is
the acrobatic bi-plane, beautiful. I made loops and turns to
check the G forces, what the G forces have impact on my back.
Some pains, but anyway. So I went back to my wing. And then
we got an introduction to frontline. We flew a 109. From
there on I had a special arrangement. I had some cushions pumped up
here and there so I could sit. I was always identified by my
squadron because I was always sitting a little bit forward than the
other ones. Then the things started down in the Caucasus.
But what was interesting, was our lawn. You know we selected
lawn. There was no airfield. There the prospect rivals came
from the clans, Caucasians, Chezhens. They came to us to the base
and said we want to fight with you against the Soviets, not the
Russians, the Soviets. And this they did. They went to the
army. They marched with the army until the dead end of the
war. These poor guys you know. The Russians killed them
I had these great experiences with the new, you know the Russians had a
lend lease contract with the western allies to get airplanes. And
one day I shot down, made my report, a Spitfire. The reports were
sent to the division. In the evening I got a call from the
division was in Kertsch, are you crazy, Spitfire is in the
west. I said wait a minute tomorrow. And tomorrow we had 20
Spitfires in the air over this battle over Kinsakaya. This was
also a big tank battle. From there on we recognized the lend
lease results. You had Spitfires, Airacobras, B-25 bombers.
One third of the Russian Air Force in Caucasus were Anglo-American
You know the whole army was retreating into the north, supported
Stalingrad again at temperatures -35 degrees. From Stalingrad, we
were pulled out, got new airplanes, the Gustav (Bf 109 G). The first time all the pilots went back to Wiener Neustadt where they were produced in Austria and they came back with this brand new aircraft just to start again the battle in Taman, Krimskaya. From there we went down again to the Krym peninsula and flew on the Asian side, Taman, and on the remaining part of the peninsula down there.
It was very, very tough fighting. I have to say that when we
started the war the Russians had obsolete types as fighter types.
The main plane was the I-16, the Rata. They had flown already in
the Spanish Civil War. The Rata was slow but tremendous
maneuvering aircraft. You never get in a dogfight on a
Rata. You come in and he comes straight at on you. It
doesn't make sense. The technique is to get in and get out, but
not turn around with Rata, that is senseless. They lost a lot of
airplanes in the first period of the war. But the Russians
learned. They came out after one year with the Yaks, the MiG, the
LaGG - modern types and in masses. Their production was
beyond the Ural. Outside the reach of German bombers, they
produced and produced and they came and formed special red banner guard
regiments which were excellent. They painted their aircraft from
the propeller to the cap in red. Red for velvet. They were
very, very serious opponents, no doubt.
After Stalingrad, after getting new airplanes we went to the battle of
Kursk. You know in the meantime, I had some belly landings that
were not that important. We got the order to go to battle.
It was a big pocket battle of Kursk, south of Orel. This was a very, very
decisive battle. The Russians knew that and just by incident they
put a tank division in the area. The Germans wanted to close from
the north and south to hold their pocket. The Russians broke in
and also the Germans had to divert troops and they couldn't do
that. It was a very serious fight between tanks and certainly a
big engagement of German fighters.
There two things happened I'll never forget. I was hit by a
Russian fighter against cooler and I had to make a belly landing.
When I made the belly landing it was between the lines. And
everybody was shooting at me. Ping, ping, ping. And then a
German tank came. I'll never forget that. It was a tank
from the SS division. It was in the south. They picked me
up and took me in the tank. It was for me a lucky time.
Then the next unforgettable event. In the late afternoon, at that
time I was already commander of the 3rd group to which the 8th squadron
belonged. The 3rd group was the 7th, 8th, 9th squadron of the
wing 52 (JG52). In the evening I flew a fighter sweep over the
pocket at about 4000 meters. The situation was in the east there
was a tremendous cumulous cloud going up to 6000 meters. In the
west was the sun going down and it lit this cumulous like gold.
And I flew from the west to the east and against this cumulous I saw
two spots and I turned my accelerator. We called them
Indians. We approached, we approached and they didn't recognize
that. And I saw the silhouette and couldn't see the
color. I saw this silhouette against this white cloud. But
I recognized he had a rotating engine and I knew two days before a
group of Focke-Wulf 190s was transferred in our area. They
flew there. I never had seen a Focke-Wulf 190 until then in the
air. Certainly, I saw pictures, but not in the air. I
wondered if that could be a FW 190. I approached that black,
rotating engine, at overspeed. I pulled off to the side and
looked down. Dark green, red star. If I would turn
away, he would chase me. So the only choice was get down
and I was about a 100 meters higher than he, get down, pull the
trigger, get him. I pulled and stalled right, aim on that plane. I
never forget that bang. I came in like that, cut him off with my
propeller, his right wing and he cut off my body (fuselage) with his
propeller. I was more lucky. I still had two wings and my
old body. He had one wing and with one wing you cannot fly. He
went down. I made it back to my lawn, air base, and very
carefully (started to land). You know if you pull some G the tail
comes off. I knew that something must have happened down
there. I landed. I saw about 1 meter or 1,50 meter
split (hole in the fuselage), but I landed.
After that, you know we had our fights. You know from Kursk
ownward, there was no forward operation, only a retreat. Hitler
declared correction of the frontline, retreat back. Somebody
could ask, did you still believe in a victory in those days. I
will tell you, we didn't think of that. We think how we can get
out of this. There was still a hope of some political contacts,
some solutions. We had to fight as long as we were there and this
went on and on. I came down again and was ordered to Romania and
was ordered again to Krimean peninsula. This was the last
fight. Crimean peninsula was absolutely taken by the
Russians. And we had to get in and the last fight was west of
Sevastopol. And I ordered a pair of 109s, only 1 mechanic. I knew
if we had to leave, we will be thrown out. There's no doubt, but
we can put the mechanics in the body of the airplane. We took out
the radio, put them in and we got all out safely over the Black Sea
which is 400 kilometers to Romania.
Back to Germany
There I got the order to take over as commander of the 2nd group in
Germany against the Americans. You know over Germany the
Americans didn't come in the early days with fighter escort. They got
the lesson at Schweinfurt with B17 and B24, because they came without
fighters. And now they came with fighters. The German fighters
flew into the big bulk of the bombers. But now the leaders felt
we must have dogfight trained pilots (to fight) against the American
Now the big difference, talking about the airplanes we
confronted. The Americans came in P-47 or P-38 or -P51.
Their engines flew 7 ½ hours with internal tank fuel, not external
tank. We, and all continental aircraft, including the Spitfires,
all the French planes, flew 1 hour 20. We had an external tank,
but you had to drop the tank because it reduced mobility. This was a tremendous handicap against the Americans.
Here, I want to tell you one last big, big fight was 12th May
1944. In the morning, I got call from the division commander 15
minutes alert we expect a big bomb raid. Then it was 15 minutes,
10 minutes, 5 minutes, cockpit alert. He said when the forward escort
fighters are in this and this area, we start. This was in North
Germany. Underneath are two Focke Wulf 190's. I am top
cover with about 3000 meters on top with my fighter group against
fighters. We went down, we saw the contrails, they came. Near
north of Frankfurt we got in contact with a P-47 group. I went
down right into the leader. They covered the area always with 4,
4, 4, 4. This was so called Hub Zemke's wolf pack. Hub Zemke was a
leader of this American fighter group and he developed this tactics to
cover a wide air space with wolf pack.
I came in and got to the leader of the wolf pack and got his left
wing. Flames you know. With this tremendous amount of fuel
you get a flame. Then I cut to the right and I was hunted. Then
they chased me. I should tell you the numbers. It was 800
4-engine bombers, B-17, B-24. This is a parade of 2 hours.
They had cover of 1200 fighters from the Hartz mountains down to
Stutgard. Always in 4, 4 or other formations. So it without
chance. Anyway, I was chased by P-47. I knew exactly
that in a dive P-47 is much faster than 109. And the P-47 has a
much higher structural strength. They can go up to 1400
kilometers per hour. The 109, if you go to 1000, pull it up, you risk
that the wings come off. So I went down from that, bang, bang,
bang. I was chased by what we call line abreast, 4
p-47s. And all that shooting here and all of a sudden bang. The
left hand was on the throttle and came off and the thumb was off.
Finally, I managed. This was a very traumatic thing,
certainly. I pull up, when I was down, to the stalling
point. The couldn't follow me because these P-47 wanted to fly
back to England. And I want to get rid of my airplane. I don't
care for the airplane, I want to get out of this. I managed that.
This was very difficult because I was hanging outside. I couldn't
operate with this hand, nothing. Finally it worked and I pulled
the parachute way down and I came down safely and was hanging on a
I was in for quite a number of months again in the hospital because I
got an infection from an American pilot, who also was shot down and in
the same hospital as me and had an infection. It took me time and
when I came back I reported to my senior, Trautloft in those days, and said I wanted to take over
my group. He said "you're crazy" It was still open and the
bone was out. He said "you cannot do that you have to recover.
Nix." I became for a certain time, commander of a fighter leader
school. This was not that important.
What was important was the German Air Force had a formation of captured
aircraft restored. They came for training to my fighter leader
school. Certainly, I only flew the P-51, P-47, P-38 as a target
for my students. So I learned these planes and I learned the
advantages and disadvantages compared with the Focke-Wulf 190 and the
109. And I still consider that altogether with all these factors
that the P-51 was most likely one of the best fighter
planes. This was maneuverable. When I got in, the first
thing, I got in the cockpit and I saw electric starting system. I
remember wank, wank in Russia (refers to the manual starter by
mechanics). Her (P-51) press button, prrrd, then we go
(electrical starter, easy engine starter). Fantastic. Beautiful
sight (visibility). We never had this sight to the back.. Very
stable undercarriage. Very good weapons set. So I think this was a very good airplane. I flew
it a few times, then I flew the P-47, then I discovered the speed
difference, down, perfect. P-38. And I flew the Spitfire.
The Spitfire was a fantastic airplane, but with a limited endurance
like all the continental aircraft. So this was a good lecture for
me. After that I became a wing commander of the Wing 300
(JG300). This was at the end of the war in February 1945.
It was chaos. I don't talk about that anymore.
The main thing was where could we get fuel, you know. Where
could we get food for the mechanics? Many German wings were
already dissolved and all of a sudden I ended up near Salzburg where I'm living today in in Ainring. And there we dissolved the troops and before we said
thanks, I said: "every mechanic who wants to get his box with all the
instruments in it, take it home."
This is a new initiative for our existence. The war was
over. It was a hard time. I went to the industry. I
chased around. And 56, before then I got a call. In the meantime
my wife was a doctor. She was a doctor at the Salem school, a very famous public school in
Germany. I got a call that I should have to come to the new
German Air Force. How do you think? There was not a great
enthusiasm after these experiences. Finally, I was
convinced. We old timers have to do that. Otherwise, we
cannot belong in new German Air Force. So I did. We went
with the first 15 pilots after the training in Germany to Luke AFB
starting with F-84. You know, funny enough, you know when we had
starter pilots in Germany you start them with T-6 and T-33. And
then we went to the U.S. and these were all old timers from WWII.
The first station was San Antonio, Texas and the next morning in the
San Antonio newspaper was a big photograph with a P-51 in the middle, left was Hartmann
and right was me. And a big headline was Göring's finest fly again. We went to
the journalistic and said we're on your side. It was a beautiful
time. Went back, then I got the order for the F-104. And I
flew it for the firm with all the tests in Palmdale, California.
I loved this airplane, it was an ingenious design from Kelly Johnson
from Lockheed. It was a great time. Then I moved up, I flew
all the different types, the F-4, not the Tornado. The Tornado
was on the paper in those days. Then, moved up to the Chief of
Air Staff. After that, I was a joint representative to the
Military Committee in Brussels. And thus, this was the end of my
career. O.K., I want to finish with this and I'll ask if you have
questions, please be free and we can talk about them.
Questions and Answers
Q. Did you fly many more flights at the very end of the war, 1945?
A. No, no. I flew the 109. My Wing and all the Combat
Wings, we flew the 109G in those days. But when I was a Commander
of the Fighter Training School, I flew the 190, the long nose 190 and
all types. We were testing them. In combat I flew the 109.
I will tell you, the last month, April, there was no more fighting
anymore in the last year, because we didn't get any warning. You
know, there was no radar station anymore. In the west, there was
finito with the war already. So this was chaos.
Q. In 1944, for you old pilots, it was probably very hard
mental pressure when most of your friends had been….
A. You touch a point, you know. What we call rise of
attrition over Germany. The highest attrition rate for all combat
units in the war or traits were submarines. And right next to the
submarines were the fighter pilots. In every mission from mid 44
onwards, we knew that every second pilot wouldn't come back. And
we had young pilots. You know we had too few pilots. We had
too big airspace. You would think the Germans fought a war from
the north came down from Egypt against England and was widespread North
Africa. It was widespread, there were unique pilots. But the
fighters were used as fire brigade. We couldn't cover all of this. And
now in the fights for life over Germany, we have young pilots with just
one ride in a 109 and they were put in action. It was murder.
Q. Pilots of my age?
A. Yes, of your age.
Q. How about the victories scores. There was a mass of over
claiming in all nations after the air battle, that pilots claimed
A. You mean how true is the victory's report?
Q. Was it due to overall confusion in combat?
A. No, I really don't get you. What's your point?
Q. Pilots claimed that they destroyed 6 enemy aircraft.
A. 6 very seldom, 6 in one battle.
Q. The flight had destroyed 6, but actually only 2 aircraft were completely destroyed. Was it due to confusion in combat?
A. No, first of all over there flak is very seldom. You see flak
over Germany or over Russia. You see when you shoot down (enemy)
because you come in, you pull your trigger when the enemy just hits
your full visor, not before, that's too far. Then you see and
then if you see that you have to have witness. Either you have
air witness or account witness. And you have to write up very detailed
report. How precision, nationality, very detailed questionnaire,
even how many rounds you used. Certainly in a big air battle, he
is shooting at that and he's shooting at that, it can be false report.
But you have to have a witness, otherwise, if you don't you forget it.
Q. About victory scores, was it completely different nature of air combat in eastern front?
A. No, not in the air. Was a difference certainly when
Russian war started. The aircraft was not the quality of the
west, not the quality of what we had to face. Most of the best
was the British Royal Air Force, Spitfire. The Russians didn't
have that equipment. The equipment was obsolete. They didn't have
the tactics, but they learned from us, very quickly. Then after a
while they came out with, as I have mentioned, with new types. The
LaGG-5, LaGG-7, was excellent aircraft. I chased a La-5 and never could
get it. They learned their lesson and they came in overwhelming
You know the Russians had for instance IL-2. An IL-2 is very hard
to shoot down. It was armed like a tank. The Russian Air Force,
like the German Air Force was focused on air to ground, support for the
army. They didn't have a strategic air force like the Americans
and the British. It was a different air warfare. You know they
came in at 8000 - 9000 meters. Mostly in the east, the later it
became, our main enemy was IL-2. The bombers, the P30 (##?? 10:51 tape
3) bombers and fighters. But fighters were a different quality, which
was excellent you know. And tactics, they took over the 4-ship
formation, also. But on the other hand the whole temperature and
the mood in the east was different than the west.
What happened in the west, it happened really over the
Mediterranean. A British fighter pilot was shot and hit and he
looked for an island (to make forced landing). The German (pilot) came,
saluted and guided him in, impossible in the east. I can tell you I
don't blame the Russians now but it's a fact: I have at least 10
friends, who never showed up. They landed. They belly
landed in the Russian (area), but they never showed up, gone.
There was a difference between the east and west.
Q. How good was your situational awareness, how well did you know
what was going on around you, on your squadron or unit, but the on the
other units on the other side of the front? If you are fighting
in the west, how did you know what was happening in the east or vice
A. By the radio, is the normal!
You know we were not informed when we were in the west what's going on
in detail in the east and vice versa. We certainly knew how's
your frontline. How is the battle at Atlantic. But not more than
the official information. There was not secret information, of let's
say North Africa for instance. We were depending on the normal
information we got, even civilians over the radio.
Q. You mentioned that the Russian planes were very good. I
would like to know which plane type was the one you respected the most
of the Russian planes and how did you manage to fight it with the 109?
A. If you talk about Russian planes, you talk about Russian
constructed and designed. There was the MiG, the Yak and the
LaGG. I respected the LaGG-7. You know with a radial engine, it
was always good. You know, I know from an inline engine you
always get the troubles with the cooler. You could be hit in the
oil cooler or in the normal cooler, and then you have to go down in a
certain time. The radial engine is not that sensitive against
fire like the inline engine. The LaGG-5, LaGG-7 were very good
airplanes, very fast and I as I mentioned you had many cases where I
chased them and they chased us. And we and I couldn't get them, full
power. And the tactics were different you know.
Q. I have read in many books that the Allied soldiers were very
keen of German pilots' wristwatches. Were they special or special
A. I don't know about the quality of German watches, but when we
became prisoner, your watch was gone and your awards also. The Knight's
Cross was gone the moment you got down. The Russians had a particular
ego for watches. You had some Russians, had 4 or 5 (watches) here (in
Q. Yes sir. You have led a very exciting and very long life, and I would like to ask you….
A. I hope it last a little bit more! <Laughter>.
Q I want to know when you are thinking of your life, what is the
best moment in your life or in your career, of course, after your
A. When I married my wife. <Applause!>
Q. Did you have any chance to fly German jet fighters?
A. Yes, I flew the 262.
Q. How did you like it?
A. Good. <Laughter>
Even though, there was some disadvantage in the beginning. But
you know, a pilot who flies always the normal and now he comes to the
jet. And when I was the leader of this final Leader School there
was a friend of mine, Hans Speyer, (who) was a well-known pilot.
Unfortunately he is dead. He was a great fighter pilot. He
said come over and we'll check you out on 262. Then I flew about
30 or 40 hours on 262.
The first thing, you get in a cockpit you think you are sitting in
saloon when you come out from the 109. You know the 109 is way
tight and you have the cannon between your legs and there isn't very
much left and visibility to the back is poor. In 262, you sit
Secondly, you get a perfect radio receiver. You don't have this
"pa pa pa pa" (noise), like from auto engine. No, you get a very clear
voice in your radio. Third, you sit in like in a taxi.
Before that you know you'd taxi out like this with the normal
aircraft. Now you had a nose wheel. Now you sit down, look
out on the runway like in a car. Fantastic. Then you
accelerate very slowly, in those days, because not to overheat up to
8000 rpm and then you release brakes. You roll down and it rolls
and rolls and you take off. And then the 262 was very heavy until
it came up to speed. It was very heavy and not very maneuverable,
but once it came up to speed up to .85 - .9 mach, then you hit the top
of the speed and then you are absolutely superior.
But you don't have the same tactics, no dog fighting. You just get in
and out. Because your (turn) radius is much bigger than in a
normal airplane. The same applies to the landing. When you come
in for landing, low speed. You know the 262 unit, they had
Focke-Wulfs. They were top cover for start and landing. They were
always top Focke-Wulf upstairs, the protected the start and landing
period of the 262. These were the early things. You know
how today, if you accelerate a 262 too fast, you get high temperature,
oil temperature, and fire in the engine. These things are gone,
we solved these problems. But this was a sensational new era, no
Q: A question about 109s, because I understood that you flew western
allied types, in that unit so you knew how they handled. So how do you
think 109s last types fared against them. What were their strengths or
A: In the 109?
A: Ja. I will tell you the weakness, and I think, really, Messershmidt will forgive me. <Laughter from audience>.
The 109 had not for us, maybe not for the long time pilots of the 109,
but the new comers had problems starting with the gear. You know
it was a high, narrow gear. And we had many ground loops. And then the gear breaks. That is not a norm, this is a exception, but it anyway happens. The cockpit, as such, was very narrow, VERY narrow. You have as I mentioned, the cannon between your two legs in
rather like in a tunnel, you know? And the visibility in the back
was very poor. Later on they made a steel plate to protect the
head, backwards. But they cut off the side through the
back. You know? Because we had this steel plate, here.
Then the starting system, as I mentioned, this was absolutely obsolete,
you know? In an area with temperatures minus 30 degrees or
more. And then, which I didn't like this feature, the slots,
Ja? Why slots? Look at the wing of the Spitfire!
Thats what we call elliptical shaped. Its beautiful elope on the
wing, the Spitfire. We don't need lift help until takeoff and
landing. You know? We can make it with a little bigger wing. So I mean,
but, when you fly five and a half years in that plane in all
conditions, you feel at home, even (laughing) if you have to leave it
for some emergency reasons. <audience laughter>
Q: I was particularly interested about, when in combat, for example against the P-51 with the later fighters.
Rall: Yeah, the 109 could compete with the P51, no doubt.
Maneuverability was excellent. But the P51 could do it
longer! <Laughs> Ja? And the pilot sits... But,
you know, if you fly seven and a half hours, you cannot fly seven and a
half hours in the cockpit in the 109. You MUST have a better
cockpit, which the P-51 has, they came from England. They flew 7
hours, you know? And so there are differences. But in the battle
itself, the 109 certainly could compete with the P-51, even the
Spitfire. You couldn't follow the Spitfire in a tight turn
upwards. You couldn't follow it. But we knew exactly the Spitfire
also had shortcomings. In the beginning when they dived away, they had
problems with the carburetor. cshhht shhht cht cht cht (shows
engine cutting out) . Until they came up to speed. So every
airplane has some problems in some areas, and if you know it, you can
Q: Mr. Rall, Can you give us the impression you had with the Focke Wulf, the 190, and especially the long nose, the Dora.
A: Ja. The 190, I had one ride in the 190 - long nose. The
190 was a very stable aircraft. It had a very good weapons
arrangement, you know they had two guns on top of the engine and two
guns at the root of the wing. And a very stable
undercarriage. It had a much better cockpit, a more comfortable
cockpit. And it had a rotating engine. No problems with the
cooling system with this type. Focke Wulf was a good airplane and
the long nose was even better, for high altitude. But I cannot
give you too more, I flew it once, when I was in fighter leader
school. By the way, the long nose came too late, anyway.
Q: Mr. Rall, what was the best tactic against the P-47?
A: Against the P-47? Shoot him down! <Laughter from both Mr. Rall and audience, applause>
P-47 was not a big problem. The problem was if you were chased by
the P-47, he was fast in a dive, had a higher structural
strength. You couldn't stand that you know? And they came
closer in a dive, because she was faster. But P-47 was a big
ship, you know? No doubt. But in a position where you chase him,
there was no equivalent condition. By the way, ehh, this was
<## garbled: 06:5 tape 4> thing talking about the P-47.
Years later, I was in Maxwell for the Gathering of Eagles in United
States, they called some pilots from all over. By the way, I met
there your Finnish ace, in Maxwell. There was the French one,
there was Gabby Gabreski from the Americans and so forth. And
there, I had to give a lecture about this flight, about this mission,
and there was Gabby Gabreski. And he said "wait a minute, I was
in this air battle!"
You know Gabby Gabreski, was he number one in the United States Air
Force. He passed away already. And he said, "I was in this
battle" and we figured out the 8th Air Force only had two P-47
groups. The one was Gabby Gabreski but the Gabby Gabreski, his
group, had the task to wait up around the airfields. The problem was
for us, when we had dogfight over the clouds and fought a bit, and you
run out of fuel - red light, you have to get down and you then have to
find a base. Because you don't know where you are over the clouds, you
know, in this dogfighting. And then you come down, and Gabby, circled
many bases and just waited. When we came back, no ammunition,
gear down, no fuel. We lost a lot of pilots in the final approach
down. And the other group was Hub Zemke, he was top cover of the
8th Air Force. He flew up at 10 000 meters and this is what I was
confronted with. To make the long story short we became good
friends after the war, and his son still living, they know, you know he
says to me, <chuckles> "Gunther is a member of our family."
<laughs> Thats great.
Q: The Me-109, how did the plane feel like, when you went in the cockpit and closed the canopy... How did the plane feel like.
A: You know, you might get nervous until you take off. You are
excited, you as a leader you have to make all arrangements. Once
you get full power, get in the air and retract the gear, then you are
concentrating, no feelings, you know? Then you are concentrating
on your mission.
Q: The plane it had these wing slats and you mentioned they pop open uneven?
A: Two meter slots on fore wings. The reason was to increase the
lift during low speed take off and landing. To reduce the length
of runway you need. In the air, if you make rough turns, just by
gravity, the outer slot might get out. You can correct it
immediately by release of stick, you know? Only little bit, psssssssht,
its in, then its gone. You have to know that. And if you
know it, you prevent it.
Q: Did you use this extra lift from the slats in combat?
A: Not at all. I mean, its also a matter of experience of the pilot,
you know? When I think of the Russian... This is another thing,
of the Russian airfields. In the wintertime you had mud and fall.
MUD. And we had problems. When you takeoff, you roll and roll,
you know? You get the mud into the cooler, ja? And we tried
to overcome this by all technical gimmicks which didn't work. You
get earth into the cooler, and then can see your temperature,
psssshhht!, runs up. Its very bad. In wintertime, we had
short fields, snow and ice on them. But all these old experienced
pilots, they managed that, you know? For a young pilot it was a
problem, no doubt. The environmental conditions for pilot, besides the
air pressure. Where are you? How do you live? And I can
tell you there is a big difference, whether you are in the north or in
a stationary situation where you have your bed and your food and
whatever it is. Or you are in the south... My group, in two
years, had 44 different places, most selected from the air. You
think it might be a good... You know you get your order, have a look
for a airfield because the army plans this and this. You don't
have a solid front line in the south. You have always tanks and
this, and in between is nothing. So you have to look for an
airfield which you have to find two days later, you know? Until
the army comes there. The south of Russia, the Caucasus, there are not
very predominant geographical marks on the ground. Its hard to find it.
Navigation is not that easy in the south, or in Russia, as it is here,
where you had concrete landmarks.
Q: How many combat sorties did you fly in Reich defense?
A: In tour the war?
Q: Yes, you personally.
A: I flew about 800. You know we say a combat mission, is when you get
contact with the enemy. There are a lot of missions you fly
around, and nothing happens, you wait.
Q: But.. do you know the number, how many sorties did you fly against western allies in 1944...
A: No, I cannot tell you, I dunno
Q: You flew in the same group as Bubi, in the war and also after the war. How well did you know him?
A: Bubi Hartmann came to me as a Lieutenant, to the Caucuses. He
was a young 'un. And it took him quite a time, until he get
experienced, and then he was you know... And then when I was commander,
he was a squadron leader of the 9th squadron and Krupinski and Obleser.
(Raimo Malkamäki: Walter Krupinski was Staffelkapitän of 7./JG 52:n and Friedrich Obleser of 8./JG 52:n at the end of 1943. Krupinski had 197 victories, Obleser 120). All very famous guys, you know? Obleser later became chief of
air staff in the new German Air Force, also (Raimo Malkamäki: After Rall in the 1970s). So I knew Bubi Hartmann very well. When I went to the Reichverteidigung (Defence of the Reich) he (Hartmann) stayed there, he became wing commander and was
captured by the Russians on the eastern front. And he had a very,
very bad time. 10 years. And when he came we addressed him and he
joined the German Air Force and one year later we went together
to the United States. You could realize the difference, when he
came back from Russia, you know. The eyes and nothing... And one year
later he went to Arizona, it was different.
Q: Do you still meet among the veterans, do you still have meetings.
A: Sure. We have uh, we have a German Fighter Pilots
Association. But, you know, if we would keep conservatively in a
couple of years there would be no fighter pilots association any
more. So now we have a pilots association and at least 50% or
more of the young squadron commanders are members. So they carry
on the tradition, even if the old <chuckles> guys pass
away. And we have different sections with different
programs. But overall, we meet once a year and it now becomes
very international. Russians come, American English come, French
come. A lot of pilots come.
Q: He was asking about Gerhardt Barkhorn. .
A: Barkhorn was a good friend of mine. (ed. commander of II/JG52, ace of 301 victories, died in auto accident in the 1980s)
Unfortunately, he, his wife and a friend got killed in a car accident
long after the war. He was a very talented pilot. I had the third
group, he had the second group. We were very close in south
Russia. I was at Taman, a Kuban briddehead and he was down at Anapa.
He was once my witness. You know, I mention this Krimskaya battles. Heavy tank battles and heavy air
operations. And I turned and I shot one down´. But my wingman was
somewhere else. And <laughs> all of a sudden Barkhorn said
"I saw it, I am your witness." He didn't know that he was next to
me <laughs> but he flew then.. Again, he was a good friend, but
unfortunately he's dead.
Q: Do you still meet all the mechanics, all the mechanics from the wartime?
A: Sure. We're spread out all over. We had a lot of
<##ostwinds???? 19:45 tape 4>. And just to give you example,
there is a master sargeant. He lives in Berlin and he calls me every
six months <chuckles> and we meet. But Ostman, NCO pilot, he was
shot down, he was in Russia as prisoner. He came back, he went to
Brazil, he was a great steel expert. And, two years ago he came
to my place and praised me. And since then we call and its very
Rall: I thank you very much for your attention.
Short private interview
Jukka Kauppinen had the pleasure of meeting mr. Rall for a short moment in private interview for a Finnish aviation magazine. Many thanks for that!
Do you have any message to the youth?
Try to keep peace. It is difficult but it is the only solution.
You still follow the situation in the world?
Yes, I'm not very happy about that. I saw after WW2 human being won't learn. That seems very pessimistic situations.
When you started in new Luftwaffe, what was the spirit?
The spirit was, Germany was integrated in the wester alliance. We wanted to contribute to NATO. We were beginners in that. We felt it was important and wanted to work. NATO was - IS - an excellent on that.
Your hobbies, do they include flying?
I've made my flying :) But when I'm in America, it is much easier to fly. Many of my friends there own aircraft and when I'm there, they take me with them and let me fly. But they sit next to me, on controls. But that can't be done in Germany.
Is the skill of flying still in there?
Yes, unbroken. I don't fly risky things anymore, just with friends, and I'm the copilot. But it is fun, nice. But it doesn't fly often anymore.
When you think of your experiences, do you have any dreams in the nights?
Not anymore but certainly the war was there for a long time, all the pressure. In the mind. Still, I always say that you can never get rid of this war, because it was most important time of our lives. Age of 21 to 27 - you are in combat or in hospital. This had its results.
You joined Army in 36, Luftwaffe in 38. This was a career choise to be in the army?
Ja, I was in the army, it was the army of soldiers. Then Hitler came. I wanted to go into air force, because I wanted to fly. And when I was in the Air Force, then I wanted to get fighter pilot. I think this is my temperament to be a fighter pilot. And it was by choise.
How do you think young boys got back civilian life after the war, because many had gotten into the army in middle of their studies?
It was difficult, you know. But let me tell you, there was great spirit. Germany lost the war, 80 % of the cities were flat, ja? We were not so much orientated to money, money, money, like today. It was great spirit, build it up, and come back to life. It was great spirit. Even housewives built up houses - it was tremendous get-together. But now you know, different.
Today's world is what do I get. Those days they asked what can I give. Different life.
What about the proposed common army for the EU and the groth of EU?
Let me tell you, I don't know the detail problems. I think it is important that NATO is still federation, bridge, between United States and Europe. Spending to the east is also important, but it takes a long time. That is parallel relationship and it is important, there is no doubt. But we should always remember, that NATO is an important thing and it is binding between US and Europe.
When the new Luftwaffe was formed in 1956 and you went to US for training, what the relations were then?
Friendly! Nothing else. Let me tell you, I made great friends there over the years and I go every year three times there. All the aviators, test pilots, civilians, great friends. Let me tell you, the problem we have right now, between US, Germany and France, this will go away, we know we have to work together. But this does not have any impact on personal friendships.
There was a lot of humour too, in the 50s, when you were in the US. For example the newspaper article "Göring's finest fly again".
They didn't take very seriously. Hey come on', now we are here?
We talked about war without sentimentals. Just facts, how did you do this. But that is not a theme anymore, you know. We now fly jets and it is different.
You have flown in Norway, in Denmark - but have you been ever in Finland?
No, this is the first time. It's been great. You know, we had, in Germany, high reputation. Particularly your marshall Mannerheim. My generation had greatest respect for him.
Background of the visit
Günther Rall's visit to Finland was arranged by the Aviation Museum Society, Finland. How did this happen?
Raimo Malkamäki from the Society had wondered if any German pilot would be interested in visiting Finland and lecturing. He heard that mr. Rall lives and is in good health, asked him and he was interested on the idea. The Finnish airliner company Finnair sponsored the flights for herr Rall, the Society handled the rest.
Herr Rall arrived to Finland in Thursday. The next day he was toured around Helsinki, the Finnish capital. They visited the Mannerheim museum (museum dedicated to War Marshall Mannerheim - general of the imperial Russia's army; Finland's military commander of the wars of 1918, Winter War 1939-1940, Continuation War 1941-1944 and Lappland War 1944-1945; and Finnish president 1944-1946), where a young guide was very enthusiastic and showed everything they had to offer. Mr. Rall was able to tell the guide a lot about the various items in the museum, like the German daggers the war marshall had received as gifts. "Few guides can learn so much on a tour", Malkamäki commented. In the trophy room the guide showed Mannerheim's Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, "this is very rare". Mr. Malkamäki whispered to the guide, that their guest has that - but with the swords. "The guide almost lost himself", Malkamäki tells us.
Why such a visit? "Listen him. Listen to those, who have seen all those horrific things. What did mr. Rall say, when he was asked about the finest moment in his life? When he married his wife. And what he hoped for the youth? No wars. His life experiences bring weight to his message."
Kai Mecklin, supervisor of the Finnish Air Force Museum, commented: "Museum is much more than just a place with lots of airplanes. Airplanes are cold, he (mr. Rall) brings the living human next to them. Planes are nothing without the story - what they are, what have been done with them, where they have been done, what for?"
"We asked herr Rall if he wants to fly from place to place in Finland. No, he wanted to use a car, so he can see Finland. He had visited every country in Finland but Finland. And he is just four months younger than independent Finland."
Günther Rall's lecture was presented in June 2003.
Recording: Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel
Tape transcription: Eric Kent, Kev "Kokpit" Gregory and Brendan Bayne.
Proofreading and editing: Jukka O. Kauppinen
Corrections: Erick Sart, Raimo Malkamäki
Photos: Jukka Kauppinen aka Grendel, Pentti "Buffalo" Kurkinen, Erkki "Eni" Nieminen, Riku "Panzzer" Vaskuu, Matti "My" Yrjölä
Copyright VLeLv Icebreakers / Virtuaalilentäjät r.y. / Finnish Virtual Pilots Association 2004.
Last modified: 2004-02-10 23:37