Johann Peter Baur
June 19, 1897 – February 17, 1993 (aged 95)
Nickname Hans Baur
Place of birth Ampfing, Bavaria
Place of death Herrsching, Germany
World War 1
Baur was called up to the Imperial German Army in 1915, and trained in field artillery at the airfield in Augsburg. He then joined the Luftstreitkräfte (air force) as an artillery spotter. During the war he claimed 6 victories, with 3 additionally unconfirmed.. For his victories, Baur was awarded the Iron Cross first class for bravery.
Between the wars
Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to disband its military air force. Baur joined the Freikorps under Franz von Epp, and in the same year became a courier flier for military airmail in Fürth.
From 1921 to 1923 he was a pilot for Bayrische Luftlloyd, and then Junkers Luftverkehr. In May 1923, Baur flew the opening flight of the Munich-Vienna route in a Junkers F 13. In 1926, Baur became one of Lufthansa Airlines's first six pilots, and in May 1928 flew the opening flight of the Munich-Milan-Rome route.
In 1926, Baur became a member of the NSDAP (No. 48,113). On April 1, 1931 Baur flew the opening flight of the Berlin-Munich-Rome route, known as the Alpine flight, whose passengers included Nuntius Eugenio Pacelli, Arturo Toscanini and tsar Boris of Bulgaria.
Pilot to Hitler
Hitler was the first politician to campaign by air travel, deciding that travel by plane was more efficient than travel by railway. Baur first piloted him during the 1932 General Election.
Hitler obtained his first private aeroplane, a Junkers Ju-52/3M with tail number DC2600 (Works No. 4021), in February 1933, on becoming German Chancellor. Powered by BMW 132 license-built Pratt and Whitney radial engines, it was named Immelmann I after WW1 pilot Max Immelmann.The Fuehrermaschine had a small folding table in Hitler's favourite seat on the right, with a clock, altimeter and airspeed indicator on the bulkhead just in front.
Baur had just became an "air millionaire“ of Lufthansa, having flown his millionth kilometre for Lufthansa. As a result of his combination of experience and capability to restart a plane engine in combat, which Hitler took as a sign of fate, Baur was personally selected by Hitler to be his official pilot in February 1933.
Die Fliegerstaffel des Fuehrers
Baur was appointed head of the Hitler's personal squadron, initially based at Oberwiesenfeld, Munich. As the Luftwaffe was not then established, and as Hitler wanted Baur to be able to command sufficient power and respect to assure his security, Hitler commissioned Baur Standartenführer in the Schutzstaffel (No. 171,865).
Upon his arrival in Berlin in 1933, Baur's first task was to expand Hitler's squadron and implement new security procedures. With the approval of the Lufthansa Director Erhard Milch, an additional Ju-52/3M was designated to meet with Baur's security requirements, named Richthofen. In 1935, 4021 was replaced by 4053, taking the latter's name Buddecke; while 4053 was designated Immelmann II with tail number D-2600.
In 1936, after the death of von Hindenburg, Hitler reorganised the government and created the Regierungsstaffell (Government squadron), making Baur the head. Headquartered at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, Baur was charged with providing flights and pilots for the Führer's entire cabinet and for his generals, with eight planes able to carry 17 passengers each at his disposal. D2600 remained Adolf Hitler's primary aircraft, now designated "Luftwaffe One"
After Hitler became Führer, he increasingly relied on Baur for advice about air war policy and technical developments. He allowed Baur to fill his squadron with experienced Lufthansa pilots, and train them in military procedure in preparation for the forthcoming war:
Kurt Schuhmann - personal pilot of Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf Hess
Max von Mueller - personal pilot of Reichs Propaganda Minister Dr. Josef Goebbels
Peter Strasser - personal pilot for Admiral Erich Roeder
Graf Schilly - personal pilot for the Chiefs of Staff General Werner Frengel and General Walter von Braunitsch
Although he tried to convert Baur to vegetarianism, Hitler also invited him to the Reich Chancellory for his favourite meal of pork and dumplings for his 40th birthday, and gave him a Mercedes Benz to replace his personal Ford.
In September 1939, the squadron was renamed Die Fliegerstaffel des Fuehrers. Hitler's personal squadron now had a special insignia that was painted on the nose of all planes: a black eagle head on a white background, surrounded by a narrow red ring.
In early 1939, Baur felt that the Führer would much safer in the newly designed Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor. Originally configured as a 26-passenger Lufthansa transport (Works No. 3099), the plushed-up Condor was named "Immelmann III" registered as D-2600, and it served Hitler until it was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid on July 18th, 1944.
Führerbunker and Soviet detention
On 31 January 1944, Baur was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer and major general of the police; and on February 24, 1945 became an SS-Gruppenführer.
During the last days of the war, Baur was with Hitler in his Führerbunker, staying with him until the end. To allow Hitler to escape from the Battle of Berlin, Baur devised a plan to have a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch take off from an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten, near the Brandenburg Gate.
Although Hitler refused to leave the Führerbunker, the strip was used by Hanna Reitsch to fly in Colonel-General Robert Ritter von Greim, appointed by Hitler as head of the Luftwaffe after Goering's treason. Reitsch flew von Greim out on the same road-strip two days later, and Hitler suggested to Baur that he evacuate himself and Martin Bormann the same way.
After Hitler's suicide, Baur found the improvised road-strip too pot-holed for use and overrun by the Soviet 3rd Shock Army. Baur, along with a few others including Bormann, tried to escape to the American/British lines. During his escape, after losing touch with Bormann, Baur was shot in the leg, and the wound was so serious that his leg was later amputated.
Captured by the Soviets in a hospital, Baur was of great interest to his captors, who believed he had flown Hitler to safety before the fall of Berlin. He endured ten years of captivity in the USSR before being released in 1955.
Baur returned to West Germany, and in 1957 wrote his autobiography "Ich flog mit den Mächtigen der Erde," which liberally translates as "I flew with the mighty [people] of the Earth." The French translation is more softly titled "J'étais pilote de Hitler / le sort du monde était entre mes mains," which translates to "I was Hitler's pilot / the fate of the world was in my hands."
Baur died in Herrsching, Bavaria of old age ailments. He is interred in the family plot in the Westfriedhof in Munich.
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