Winnerl, Rudolf.

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Winnerl, Rudolf, born 15-0-3-1916 in Lugau, Erzgebirge, the son of a miner. After attending elementary school, learned the trade of a molding machine. Joined the Hitler Youth in 1930, where he was appointed Hitler Youth Leader a year later. On 05-06-1935, he joined the state police in Chemnitz and a short time later was transferred to the army of the Wehrmacht, where he received his basic military and infantry training. In the course of the increase in the air force, Winnerl volunteered and was transferred to the 31st Luftwaffe Training Regiment in Magdeburg at the end of 1937, possibly beginning of 1938. On 02-05-1938, his training as a pilot began at the pilot school 4 in Zeltweg. This was followed by the transfer Ergänzungskampfgruppe 2/ Supplementary Combat Group 2 in Quedlinburg. After completing his training as a pilot of single-engine aircraft on 29-04-1939, he switched from October 2 to December 30, 1939 to the 2nd student company/2. Schülerkompanie der Kampffliegerschule of the Tutow Combat Flying School, where he was trained as a combat pilot and for the first time multi-engine aircraft, such as the Donier 17, Junker 86 or Heinkel 111, flew. After a short command to the pilot school C in Zeltweg, Winnerl was transferred to the 9th Staffel of Kampfgeschwader 1 “Hindenburg” on 09-01-1940, under command of the Oberst Josef Kammhuber.. With the beginning of the campaign against the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa the II.Staffel was in uninterrupted use. A short time before, Rudolf had married and moved to Syke near Bremen. Operations were mainly carried out against enemy-occupied airfields in Libau, Mitau, Windau, Riga-Spilve, on railway lines, against troop movements, coastal fortifications, to combat the Soviet Baltic Fleet and against enemy supplies. The missions were flown day and night. Initially only in the northern sector, the combat squadron soon moved to the central and southern sector and flew missions against Moscow and Rshev. At the beginning of 1942, the 4th Staffel was uninterruptedly deployed to support the defense against the opposing winter offensive in the north of the Eastern Front. Winnerl increased his numbers and flew every mission of the 4th Staffel. For example, on 27-02-1942, the 1000th enemy flight of the 4th Staffel took place. From 20-03-1942, Winnerl and his squadron took part in operations to relieve the encircled German troops near Cholm and Demjansk and thus reached his 200th enemy flight on 29-3-1942. Winnerl’s crew at that time consisted of the radio operator Christian Heil, the on-board mechanic Johann Gürtler and the observer Kurt Seidel. Heil and Gürtler later both received the German Cross in Gold. In April 1943, Winnerl was awarded the Knight’s Cross as an aircraft and chain leader of the 4th Staffel of KG 1 “Hindenburg”. On over 300 enemy flights, he had succeeded in sinking three ships, destroying four anti-aircraft and artillery positions, ten tanks, nine bunker positions, three ammunition and one supply depot, as well as 11 material transport trains, permanently interrupting 19 railway lines and a 5000 GRT ship badly damaged, supported the heavy fighting of the army and continued to fly supply flights for Demyansk and Cholm. Winnerl was the second member of the 4th Staffel to be awarded the Knight’s Cross. In the summer of 1943 he joined the 11th Staffel / IV for a short time. Group / KG 1, in September 1943 he was transferred back to Group II.Ambush in Italy. At the end of September 1943 after the fall of the Axis, Staffel II was transferred to Italy. Winnerl was ambushed and shot in the head on 13-11-1943 at the edge of the Airasca air base, which was now considered a dangerous partisan area, which led to almost complete paralysis. Winnerl was no longer fit for duty. He was only released from the reserve hospital in February 1945.

Death and burial ground of Winnerl, Rudolf.


Rudolf Winnerl died on 26-02-1991, age 74, in Syke near Bremen. He rests in a shared grave with his wife Hildegard and a Luise Käkritz, probably his mother-in-law. It could not be determined whether the deceased “Regina” noted in front of the tombstone is the couple’s daughter.

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