In the 1930s Hermann Goering, after having observed Soviet airborne infantry maneuvers, became committed to the creation of Germany’s airborne infantry. He ordered the formation of a specialist police unit in 1933, devoted to protecting Nazi party officials. The unit carried out conventional police duties for the next two years, but in 1935, Goering transformed it into Germany’s first dedicated airborne regiment. The unit was incorporated into the newly formed Luftwaffe later that year and training commenced. Goering also ordered that a group of volunteers be drawn for parachute training. These volunteers would form a cadre for a future Fallschirmtruppe(“parachute troops”). In January 1936, 600 men and officers formed a Jäger and an engineer company. Germany’s parachute arm was officially inaugurated in 1936 with a call for recruits for a parachute training school. The school was open to Luftwaffe personnel, who were required to successfully complete six jumps in order to receive the Luftwaffe parachutist’s badge. The major airdrops in Norway and Denmark in April 1940 were also vital to the success of the campaigns there, although they, along with the amphibious forces, suffered heavy casualties. The Battle for Crete for the Fallschirmjäger began on May 20, 1941 and ended on June 1, 1941. This resulted in a high casualty count, over 3250 airborne soldiers killed or MIA and 3400 wounded. This battle however, resulted in a German victory but due to the inefficiency and high loss of paratroopers Hitler halted the use of large airborne attacks. Throughout World War II, the Fallschirmjäger commander was Kurt Student.
Thousands of German paratroopers were killed in action. Fallschirmjäger were awarded a total of 134 Knight Crosses between 1940 and 1945.