Hrabak, Dietrich A , born 19-12-1914 in Gross Deuben near Leipzig, showed an interest in aviation from an early age, but joined the German navy
first in 1934.
Two years later he transferred to the Luftwaffe
, and qualified as a pilot, as a Leutnant. In 1938 Hrabak was posted to the Vienna Jagdgruppe, I./JG 138. This unit was later redesigned I./JG 76 during the Polish Campaign, before becoming II./JG 54
in April 1940. During the Polish Campaign, Hrabak was shot down, the first of 11 times, on his first mission, making a belly landing. On 13-05-1940, he claimed his first victory, a French Potez 63 and he claimed five more victories before the armistice. During the Battle of Britain, (see Bomber Harris
, Hrabak was a member of JG 54, becoming Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 54 on 26-08-1940. During the Battle of Britain he added ten victories against Royal Air Force (RAF)
fighters and Field Marshal Hermann Goering
(did you know
), Hermann’s cousin Peter was temporary the wing man of General der Flieger, Adolf Galland
) (see Goering Peter
), personally decorated Hrabak with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.
Hrabak served in the Balkans campaign and when Operation Barbarossa began in Russia, he flew on the northern front and over Leningrad. In November 1942, he left JG 54 to become Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52—52nd
. Under Hrabak JG 52 became the highest scoring Geschwader with over 10.000 victories. In August 1943 he got his 100th
victory and in November was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross, the 337th
soldier to be thus awarded. He had 118 victories. On 20-09-1944, Hrabak scored the last of his 125 victories. In October 1944 Hrabak returned to JG 54, serving as its last Geschwaderkommodore until the end of the war. His greatest contribution to the Luftwaffe was not his combat record however but his command, tactical and leadership qualities, which endeared him to the men under his command and sealed his reputation within the Luftwaffe leadership.
After the war, he worked in the automotive and chemical industry until 1953 when Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
asked him to help form the new German Air Force. In 1956 he commanded the Advanced Pilot Training Center at Fürstenfeldbruck. In 1962 he took charge of the air defense covering northern Germany and the Netherlands. In 1964 he was named NATO’s Chief of Air Defense/Central Europe until becoming special manager for the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter programme. As a Major General, he commanded the GAF’s tactical command.
General Hrabak died peacefully 15-09-1995, old age 80, in Pfaffenhofen. He is buried with his wife Magarete, on the Waldfriedhof of Fürstenfeldbrück, close to the General der Flieger, General for Personnel Employment OKL, George Fitze