Udet, Lieutenant General Ernst, 1896-1941

Udet was a World War I flying ace whom GOERING appointed Head of the Luftwaffe’s Technical Department. He had been a close friend of MILCH and had taken over many of Milch’s former responsibilities, as Inspector General of the Luftwaffe. However as Milch stated, ‘HITLER recognized in Udet one of our greatest pilots, and he was right. But he also saw him as one of the greatest technical experts, and here he was mistaken.’ Udet became the head of a vast bureaucracy but did not exercise sufficient control over aircraft production. He was responsible for equipping the Luftwaffe with tactical rather than strategic aircraft and placed great emphasis on the Messerschmitt 109. However in 1941 aircraft production dropped and Udet came under extreme pressure to improve the situation. He became suspicious of everyone and committed suicide in November 1941 after an unpleasant conference with Milch. His death was reported as an accident while testing a new weapon and Udet was given a hero’s funeral.

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