Sperrle, Hugo Otto, born 07-02-1885, in Ludwigsburg, Baden Wurttemberg, the son of the brewer Johann Sperrle, joined the German Army in 1903, age 18 in the Infanterie-Regiment „Großherzog Friedrich von Baden“ (8. Württembergisches) Nr. 126, and commissioned as Leutnant, later promoted to Oberleutnant transferred to the German Army Air Service at the start of World War I, serving as an observer to the end of the war. In February 1916 Sperrle crashed, after an flight from Luneville, in France and was seriously wounded in his face and for two months switched off. During the war he rose through the ranks and at its conclusion was commander of the air components of the German 7th Army . It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 from the II Army Inspection. He was awarded with both the Iron Crosses and the Iron Cross of the Königlichen Hausordens von Hohenzollern with Swords. The army was disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war Sperrle joined the Freikorps Walther von Lüttwitz
at the end of the war after the disbanding of the Air Service. Walter von Lüttwitz, who died old age 83, on 20-09-1942 in Breslau, was the father of the later General der Panzertruppe, Smilo von Lüttwitz. In the 1920s, he commanded the secret German Lipetsk fighter-pilot school- Kampffliegerschule Lipezk). Apart from Lipezk, Germany also operated a tank school, the Panzerschule Kama (1926–33) and a gas warfare school, the Gas-Testgelände Tomka (1928–31) in the Soviet Union. Many of the officers training, instructing or visiting Kama would later become high ranking commanders in the Wehrmacht or its Panzerwaffe, among them Ernst Volckheim , Werner von Blomberg , Walter Model , Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma and Heinz Guderian. While at Kama, German military personnel were not allowed to wear German uniforms, usually civilian clothes were worn though occasionally borrowed Soviet uniforms were used. Ernst Volckheim died age 64 on 01-09-1962.
Hugo Sperrle joined the Nazi Party in the 1930s and he entered the newly formed Luftwaffe, under Goering and became a favourite of Hermann Goering in 1935 and served as commander of the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War, with Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (see Manfred von Richthofen) serving as his Chief of Staff. The Condor Legion was initially equipped with around 100 aircraft and 5.136 men, and Sperrle’s forces were responsible for the bombing of Guernica
and other Spanish towns. One of his most insidious inventions was to use a wave of bombers to attack the center of a city with the goal of destroying water mains and crippling fire fighting efforts as a preliminary step to using incendiary bombs.
On 12-02-1938, when Adolf Hitler met with Austrian Chancellor, Kurt Schuschnigg to exert pressure for Austria’s merger into Germany, Hugo Sperrle was selected by Hitler (see Adolf Hitler) (did you know) to accompany him for his intimidating appearance. Physically, he was a huge bear of a man, but it wasn’t all brawn; he had brains too. Sperrle led the German Luftflotte 3 (Air Fleet 3) which played a major role in the Battle of Britain in May and June 1940. During the Battle of Britain it was Sperrle who spoke out against Goering’s decision to change tactics from bombing Fighter Command airfields to the cities. He knew that the Royal Air Force had not been beaten and that Fighter Command would be able to rebuild in strength if given the opportunity. Goering ignored Sperrle and remained adamant that the bombing campaign on British cities would break the will of the people. Sperrle played an important role in the blitzkrieg tactics used during the Western Offensive and was a major proponent of targeting British fighters above all else. He rose the ranks smoothly, Major General on 01-10-1935, Lieutenant General on 01-04-1937 and General of the Flieger on 01-11-1937. In July 1940, he was made a Generalfeldmarshall of the Luftwaffe. He was a friend of Hermann Goering (see Goering Peter). Sperrle advised that Britain’s Royal Air Force had to be destroyed to ensure a successful invasion of Britain. (see Bomber Harris) Air Fleet 3, stationed in northern France, played a major role in the Battle of Britain, from June 1940 to October 1940 and the The Blitz, to May 1941. His forces continued to bomb Britain until the autumn, 1941. He continued to command his forces to support Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe, Erwin Rommel
in the North African Campaign and took full command over the German Air Forces in Western Europe in 1944, shortly before D-Day. Because of the Luftwaffe’s failure to prevent the Normandy landings, his forces were badly hampered due a massive lack of aircraft, of experienced crews, and of fuel. Although an initial Nazi supporter, he became increasingly disillusioned with the German war effort. At D-Day he had only 319 operational aircraft left to face the Allied armada of over 9.000 planes. to hold back an invading air armada of almost 10.000 planes of all types. Unable to counter such air superiority. and due to the subsequent inability of his units to thwart the Allied landings, he was dismissed from command in August 1944. Field Marshal Sperrle was captured by the Allies and charged with war crimes
in the High Command Trial at the Subsequent Nuremburg Trials but was acquitted as one of two of the fourteen prisoners. In this picture one gets a feeling for, ‘how the great are fallen’, in that Sperrle now looks like a desperate and shabbily dressed man, a far cry from his days of power and influence as Commander in Chief West during the war. It must be remembered that although Sperrle did indeed issue the infamous orders that bear his name and had such a tragic effect on Oradour sur Glane, he was not in any way behaving in an especially harsh manner for a Nazi. Sperrle’s orders which stated that, if partisans attacked German armed forces, drastic measures could be taken on the spot and any houses from which shots have been fired are to be burnt down on the spot. He was for the most part, acting as any other member of the German High Command acted.
Death and burial ground of Sperrle, Hugo Otto.
Hugo Sperrle died in Munich on 02-04-1953, age 68, embittered and depressive, of a long illness and an severe operation and so lived to see the end of the trial in Bordeaux (which he did not attend). After his death he was first buried in Thaining, then reburied on the German war cemetery, Soldatenfriedhof Schwabstadt, near the Fliegerhorst Lechfeld airbase of Obermeitingen but the stone is removed in 2012 because Sperrle was not a war victim and his family didn’t want to pay the grave commission..