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Decorations of Erhard Milch

The entire life of Erhard Milch (30.03.1892-25.01.1972), co-founder and one of the most prominent leaders of Luftwaffe was closely bonded with aviation, whether civil or military. Born to a Breslau-born Jewish pharmacist Anton Milch, Erhard wasn’t admitted to the Kaiserliche marine in 1910 because of his half-German ancestry. Undeterred, he enlisted in the Army and rose to the rank of an artillery officer. Milch ended the Great War as a Hauptmann with the Imperial Air Force unit. Having resigned from the military in 1920, Milch started what turned out to be a breathtaking career in civil aviation. He headed his own airlines Lloyd Ostflug, worked for Junkers Luftverkehr, and was made managing director of Deutsche Lufthansa in 1926. His military career started anew after NSDAP came to power. By instructions of Hermann Göring Milch was made State Secretary of the German Aviation Ministry (Reichsluftfahrministerium) and was soon promoted to a honorary Oberst (October 28, 1933) thus missing the rank of Major. His further promotion in the Third Reich catches imagination: honorary Generalmajor (24.03.1934), honorary Generalleutnant (28.03.1935), honorary General der Flieger (30.01.1936), General der Flieger (20.04.1936), Generaloberst (01.11.1938) and finally Generalfeldmarschall (19.07.1940). 

Non-Aryan descent of the Göring’s deputy was never an obstacle to a big jump of an ambitious official as Milch enjoyed full support of the mighty head of Luftwaffe who seemed to be quite far from Anti-Semitic attitude. However, to avoid attacks from the most radical wing of the Nazis headed by notorious Julius Streicher, Milch was issued with a fake birth certificate bearing name of the “racially irreproachable” Baron Hermann von Bier as his “real father”. Thus it was Erhard Milch who made history as a protagonist of a famous Göring’s quote: “I decide who is a Jew!” (“Wer Jude ist bestimme ich!”).

To make the picture complete we publish here a service record of Erhard Milch compiled by the author from various reliable open sources.

24.02.1910 Fahnenjunker
18.10.1910 Fähnrich
18.08.1911 Leutnant
18.08.1915 Oberleutnant
18.08.1918 Hauptmann
28.10.1933 Charakter als Oberst
24.03.1934 Charakter als Generalmajor
28.03.1935 Charakter als Generalleutnant
30.01.1936 Charakter als General der Flieger
20.04.1936 General der Flieger
01.11.1938 Generaloberst
19.07.1940 Generalfeldmarschall

30.03.1892 Erhard Alfred Richard Oskar Milch was born at 3:45 PM in Wilhelmshaven to a Jewish Anton Georg Hugo Milch (1857-1934) who served as a Marineoberstabsapotheker with the Kaiserliche Marine and German Clara Auguste Wilhelmine née Vetter (born 1864). Her parents were landowner Wilhelm Vetter (1827-1894) and Augusta Karolina Luise Bräuer (1841-1923).

24.02.1910-01.08.1914 Entered military service as Fahnenjunker, then battery officer  of Fußartillerie-Regiment von Linger (Ostpreussisches) Nr.1

01.10.1913-01.01.1914 Training at Fußartillerie-Schießschule

02.08.1914-30.06.1915 Adjutant of the 2nd Reserve battalion of Fußartillerie-Regiment von Linger (Ostpreussisches) Nr.1

01.07.1915-04.08.1915 Training at Höhere Fliegertechnische Schule Jüterbog

05.08.1915-27.08.1915 Observer with Artillerie-Flieger-Abteilung 205

28.08.1915-14.06.1916 Observer with Artillerie-Flieger-Abteilung 204

15.06.1916-03.07.1917 Adjutant of Eduard Zimmermann, commandant of Artillerie-Flugzeugbeobachterschule Ost I in Groß-Auz (Kurland)

08.03.1917 Married in Berlin to Käthe Patschke (born 1889), daughter of landowner of Paul Patschke from Schöneck (Saxony). Erhard and Käthe will have three daughters.

04.07.1917-08.07.1917 Detached to Armee-Flug-Park 6

09.07.1917-30.07.1917 Observer and temporary commander (Stellvertretender Abteilungsführer) of Fliegerabteilung 5

30.07.1917-08.04.1918 Gruppenbildoffizier of Aufklärungsfliegergruppe 2

09.04.1918-18.07.1918 Detached to Armee-Flug-Park 17 as a candidate to the Grand General Staff (Anwärter für die Generalstabsausbildung)

23.04.1918-08.06.1918 Company commander of Infanterie-Regiment von Boyen (5.Ostpreußisches) Nr.41

09.06.1918-18.07.1918 Commander of escort battery (Begleitbatterie) of Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr.273 

19.07.1918-19.09.1918 Intelligence officer in headquarters of the aviation representative with the 17th Army (Nachrichtenoffizier im Stabe des Kommandeurs der Flieger 17)

20.09.1918-30.09.1918 Commanding officer of Flieger-Abteilung Artillerie 204 

01.10.1918-02.12.1918 Commanding officer of Jagdgruppe 6

02.12.1918-03.12.1918 Demobilized in Graudenz (now Polish Grudziądz)

04.12.1918-11.01.1919 Attached to the Kommandeur der Flieger 1 and placed at the disposal of the XVII Army Corps General staff head

12.01.1919-26.02.1919 Observer with Grenzschutz-Flieger-Abteilung Nr.429

27.02.1919-19.04.1919 Commanding officer of Flieger-Sonderstaffel des XVII.Armee-Korps

20.04.1919-04.09.1919 Commanding officer of Freiwilligen Fliegerabteilung Nr.412 (later – Fliegerstaffel 117)

05.09.1919-04.12.1919 Commanding officer of Polizeifliegerstaffel Königsberg

05.12.1919-31.01.1920 At the disposal of the Processing office of the I Army Corps in Königsberg

31.01.1920 Retired from active military service

01.02.1920-хх.хх.1921 Managing director of “Danziger Luftpost GmbH” and Head of air traffic of “Junkers-Luftverkehr AG”

хх.хх.1921-31.12.1925 Managing director of “Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG /Aktiengesellschaft/”, then managing director of “Deutsche Lufthansa AG”

01.01.1926-21.02.1933 “Deutsche Lufthansa AG” Executive Committee member

02.02.1933-05.05.1933 Deputy Imperial Commissioner for Aviation

05.05.1933-20.06.1944 State Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium)

28.10.1933-20.04.1936 Returned to military service with an authorization to wear uniform of Artillerie-Regiment Königsberg (since Autumn 1935 – Artillerie-Regiment 1)

20.04.1936 Transferred to military service with Luftwaffe

01.02.1939-31.01.1945 General inspector of the Luftwaffe and Representative of the Imperial Minister of Aviation

12.04.1940-09.05.1940 Commander-in-chief of Luftflotte 5

хх.хх.1942-31.01.1945 Chairman of the supervisory board and president of the “Deutsche Lufthansa AG”

19.01.1943-30.01.1943 Responsible for the 6th Army supply during the Battle of Stalingrad

04.02.1945-04.05.1945 Transferred to the Officers’ Reserve of the Air Force Command (Führer-Reserve des OKL)

04.05.1945-28.06.1954 Held in British captivity then transferred to the Landsberg Prison

02.01.1947-17.04.1947 Tried as a war criminal at “The United States of America vs. Erhard Milch” Trial and sentenced to life imprisonment at Landsberg Prison.   

31.01.1951 Sentence commuted to 15 years imprisonment

28.06.1954 Released from imprisonment

25.01.1972 Passed away in Wuppertal aged 79 and laid to rest at Lüneburg Zentralfriedhof.

German orders, medals and badges

- Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz 2.Klasse) /October 04, 1914/
- Iron Cross 1st Class (Eisernes Kreuz 1.Klasse) /October 19, 1915/
- Prussian Army Pilot’s Badge (Militär-Flugzeugführer-Abzeichen)
- Prussian Army Observer’s Badge (Beobachter-Abzeichen für Landflieger) /June 23, 1916/
- Prussian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge (Flieger-Erinnerungs-Abzeichen) /1919/
- Star of the German Red Cross Decoration (Stern des Ehrenzeichens des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes) /July 27, 1934/
- Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 for Combatants (Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges 1914-1918 für Frontkämpfer) /December 15, 1934/
- “Saar Plebiscite on January 13, 1935” Table Medal (Volksabstimmung im Saargebiet 13.1.1935)
- Combined Pilot’s and Observer’s Badge (Abzeichen für Flugzeugführer und Flugzeugbeobachter) /March 30, 1935/
- Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order (Großkreuz des Herzoglich Sachsen-Ernestinischen Hausordens) /August 15, 1935/
- Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds (Gemeinsame Flugzeugführer- und Beobachterabzeichen in Gold mit Brillanten, a.k.a. “Luftwaffen-Doppelabzeichen”) /presented to E.Milch by H.Göring on November 11, 1935/
- Badge of the Corresponding Member of the German Academy of Aeronautics (Abzeichen der Deutschen Akademie der Luftfahrtforschung für korrespondierende Mitglieder)
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung IV.Klasse) /October 02, 1936/
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 3rd Class (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung III.Klasse) /October 02, 1936/
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 2nd Class (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung II.Klasse) /October 02, 1936/
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 1st Class (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung I.Klasse) /October 02, 1936/
- German Olympic Decoration 1st Class (Deutsches Olympia-Ehrenzeichen 1.Klasse) /August 16, 1936/
- NSDAP Golden Party Badge (Goldenes Ehrenzeichen der NSDAP) /January 30, 1937/
- Air Warden Honor Award 2nd Class (Luftschutz-Ehrenzeichen 2.Stufe) /April 20, 1938/
- Air Warden Honor Award 1st Class (Luftschutz-Ehrenzeichen 1.Stufe) /April 20, 1938/
- Commemorative Medal of March 13, 1938 (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 13.März 1938) /November 21, 1938/
- Commemorative Medal of October 1, 1938 with the Prague Castle clasp (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1.Oktober 1938 mit der Spange “Prager Burg”) /May 22, 1939/
- The Return of Memel Commemorative Medal (Medaille zur Erinnerung an die Heimkehr des Memellandes) /September 19, 1939/
- 1939 Clasp for the 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class (Spange zum Eisernen Kreuz 2.Klasse) /September 24, 1939/
- 1939 Clasp for the 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class (Spange zum Eisernen Kreuz 1.Klasse) /September 30, 1939/
- Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) /May 04, 1940/
- Lufthansa Service Badge for 15 Years of Faithful Service (Lufthansa-Dienstabzeichen für 15 jährige treue Dienste) /January 06, 1941/

Foreign decorations (listed in chronological order)

Kingdom of Italy. Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Knight Grand Cross (Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro) /April 1933/
Kingdom of Bulgaria. Order of Civil Merit, Grand Officer Cross (
Народенъ орденъЗа гражданска заслуга”, голям офицерски кръстъ) /May 31, 1933/
Hellenic Republic. Order of the Phoenix, Grand Cross (
Μεγαλόσταυρος του Τάγματος του Φοίνικα) /May 1934/
Kingdom of Hungary. Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, Grand Cross (Nagykeresztje Magyar Királyi Szent István-rend) /May 27, 1935/
Kingdom of Bulgaria. Order of Military Merit, Grand Cross (
ОрденЗа военна заслуга” I степен) /May 27, 1935/
Republic of Finland. Order of the White Rose of Finland, Commander Cross (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun komentaja) /June 06, 1935/
Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Order of Saint Sava, Grand Cross (
Орден Светог Саве првог реда) /June 30, 1935/
Republic of Chile. Order of Merit, Commander Cross (Comendador de la Orden al Mérito de Chile) /March 03, 1937/
Kingdom of Italy. Order of the Crown of Italy, Knight Grand Cross (Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine della Corona d’Italia) /September 1937/
French Republic. French Pilot Badge (Insigne des pilotes militaire français) /September 29, 1937/
Great Empire of Japan. Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1st Class /November 09, 1937/
Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Order of the Yugoslav Crown, Grand Cross (
Орден Југословенске круне првог редаВелики крст) /January 1938/
Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Combat Pilot Breast Badge (
Ратна верзија пилотског грудног знака) /June 1938/
Republic of China. Order of Brilliant Jade, 1st Class /June 1938/
Kingdom of Italy. Colonial Order of the Star of Italy, Grand Cross (Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine Coloniale della Stella d’Italia) /February 20, 1939/
Kingdom of Belgium. Order of Leopold, Grand Cross (Grand Cordon de l’Ordre de Léopold) /December 18, 1939/
Kingdom of Sweden. Royal Order of the Sword, Grand Cross (Kungliga Svärdsorden, Kommendör med stora korset) /August 06, 1940/
Kingdom of Romania. Aeronautical Virtue Order, Commander Cross (Ordinul Virtutea Aeronautică clasa Comandor) /July 06, 1941/
Republic of Finland. Order of the White Rose of Finland, Grand Cross (Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun suurristi) /March 30, 1942/