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Helmut Lent

Helmut Lent
Black-and-white photograph showing the face and upper body of a young man in uniform. The front of his shirt collar bears Iron Cross decorations, black with light outline.
Helmut Lent in 1943
Born(1918-06-13)13 June 1918
Pyrehne near Landsberg
Died7 October 1944(1944-10-07) (aged 26)
Paderborn
Buried
Military cemetery at Stade
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branchBalkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service1936–44
RankOberst (posthumous)
UnitZG 76, NJG 1, NJG 2, NJG 3
Commands heldIV./NJG 1, II./NJG 2, NJG 3
Battles/wars
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds

Helmut Lent (13 June 1918 – 7 October 1944) was a German night-fighter ace in World War II. Lent shot down 110 aircraft, 102 of them at night.[1][Note 1] Born into a devoutly religious family, he showed an early passion for glider flying; against his father's wishes, he joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. After completing his training, he was assigned to the 1. Squadron, or Staffel, of Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76), a wing flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine heavy fighter. Lent claimed his first aerial victories at the outset of World War II in the invasion of Poland and over the North Sea. During the invasion of Norway he flew ground support missions before he was transferred to the newly established Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1), a night-fighter wing.[2][3][Note 2]

Lent claimed his first nocturnal victory on 12 May 1941 and on 30 August 1941 was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for 22 victories. His steady accumulation of aerial victories resulted in regular promotions and awards. On the night of 15 June 1944, Major Lent was the first night fighter pilot to claim 100 nocturnal aerial victories, a feat which earned him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 31 July 1944.[2][3]

On 5 October 1944, Lent flew a Junkers Ju 88 on a routine transit flight from Stade to Nordborchen, 5 kilometres (3 mi) south of Paderborn. On the landing approach one of the engines cut out and the aircraft collided with power lines. All four members of the crew were mortally injured. Three men died shortly after the crash and Lent succumbed to his injuries two days later on 7 October 1944.[2][3]

Childhood, education and early career

Lent was born on 13 June 1918 in Pyrehne, district of Landsberg an der Warthe, Province of Brandenburg, Germany (now Pyrzany, Lubusz Province, western Poland) and christened Helmut Johannes Siegfried Lent. He was the fifth child of Johannes Lent, a Lutheran minister and Marie Elisabeth, née Braune. Helmut Lent had two older brothers, Werner and Joachim, and two older sisters, Käthe and Ursula.[4] His family was deeply religious; in addition to his father, both of his brothers and both grandfathers were also Lutheran ministers.[5]

From Easter 1924 until Easter 1928, Lent attended the local public primary school at Pyrehne. His father and oldest brother Werner then tutored him at home in preparation for the entrance examination at the public secondary school at Landsberg.[Note 3] In February 1933, Helmut joined the Jungvolk, the junior branch of the Hitler Youth. From March 1933, he acted as a youth platoon leader, or Jungzugführer (1 March 1933 – 1 April 1935) and flag-bearer, or Fähnleinführer (1 April 1935 – 9 November 1935) until he left the Jungvolk to prepare for his diploma examination.[7] Helmut passed his graduation examinations at the age of seventeen on 12 December 1935. On 2 February 1936, he began the eight-week compulsory National Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst) at Mohrin.[8] He joined the military service in the Luftwaffe as a Fahnenjunker on 1 April 1936, against the wishes of his father.[9]

His military training began on 6 April 1936 at the 2nd Air Warfare School (Luftkriegsschule 2) at Gatow, on the south-western outskirts of Berlin. He swore the National Socialist oath of allegiance on 21 April 1936.[10] Flight training began on Monday, 7 August 1936 at Gatow. His first flight was in a Heinkel He 72 Kadet D-EYZA single engine biplane. Lent logged his first solo flight on 15 September 1936 in a Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz. By this time, Lent had accumulated 63 flights in his logbook.[11] In conjunction with flight training, the students also learned to drive motorcycles and cars and during one of these training exercises, Lent was involved in a road accident, breaking his upper leg badly enough to prevent him from flying for five months.[12] This did not adversely affect his classroom training and on 1 April 1937, after taking his commission examination, he was promoted to Fähnrich.[13] On 19 October 1937 Lent completed his flight training and was awarded the A/B License. He earned his wings on 15 November 1937. On 1 February 1938, he was promoted to Oberfähnrich (first ensign), and on 1 March 1938 to Leutnant. By this time, he had made 434 flights in eight different types of aircraft and had accumulated 112 hours and 48 minutes flying time, mostly in daylight flights, in single engine training aircraft.[14]

After leaving Gatow, Helmut Lent was posted to the Heavy Bomber Crew School, or Große Kampffliegerschule at Tutow, in northeast Germany. He spent three months training as an observer (1 March 1938 – 30 May 1938). Prior to completing this course, Lent was run over by a car, resulting in a broken lower jaw, concussion, and internal bleeding. On 1 July 1938, Lent was posted to the 3rd Group of Jagdgeschwader 132 "Richthofen" (III./JG 132), flying on 19 July 1938 for the first time after his injuries.[15]

At the beginning of September, Lent's squadron, 7./JG 132, relocated to Großenhain near Dresden, in preparation and support of the annexation of Czechoslovakia. Lent flew a number of operational patrols in this conflict until his Staffel relocated again to Rangsdorf on 29 September 1938. After the tension over the occupation of the Sudeten territories eased, Lent's unit began a conversion to the Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun. On 1 November 1938 III./JG 132 moved to Fürstenwalde, between Berlin and Frankfurt an der Oder, and was renamed II./JG 141, and Lent was posted to the 6th Squadron.[16]

II./JG 141 changed its designation to I./Zerstörergeschwader 76 (I./ZG 76) on 1 May 1939 at the same time relocating to an airfield at Olmütz, Czechoslovakia. The group was being re-equipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 110, and Lent made his first flight in the Bf 110 on 7 June 1939. Lent was granted his Luftwaffe Advanced Pilot's Certificate (Erweiterter Luftwaffen-Flugzeugführerschein), also known as 'C'-Certificate, confirming proficiency on multi-engine aircraft, on 12 May 1939.[17] While converting to the Bf 110, Lent did not have a regular wireless operator (Funker) in the rear gunner's seat, but on 14 August 1939 he was accompanied in M8+AH for the first time by Gefreiter Walter Kubisch.[18] During the prelude of World War II on 25 August 1939 I./ZG 76 deployed to an airfield at Ohlau to the southeast of Breslau.[19]

World War II

World War II began at 04:45 on Friday 1 September 1939 when German forces crossed the Polish border. Helmut Lent, flying a Bf 110 marked M8-DH, took off from Ohlau, at 04:44 to escort Heinkel He 111 bombers on a mission over Krakow.[19]

Invasion of Poland

A black-and-white photograph of a twin-engine fighter aircraft standing on a grass field, shown in profile.
A ZG 76 Bf 110C similar to those flown by Helmut Lent

The German plans for the invasion of Poland were conceived under the codename Fall Weiss (Case White). This operation called for simultaneous attacks on Poland from three directions, the north, the west and the south, beginning at 04:45 on the early morning of 1 September 1939. On this morning Helmut Lent, with Kubisch as his wireless operator and rear gunner, escorted a formation of Heinkel 111 bombers of I. and III./Kampfgeschwader 4 (KG 4) attacking the airfields at Krakow in support of the southern prong of the German attack.[20] At 16:30 on 2 September 1939, the second day of the German attack, Lent took off in the direction of Łódź and claimed his first aerial-victory of the war, shooting down a PZL P.11.[21]

At this point of the campaign the Bf 110s switched from bomber escort to ground-attack since the Polish Air Force was all but defeated. In this capacity Lent and Kubisch destroyed a twin-engined monoplane on the ground on 5 September and another aircraft, a PZL P.24, on 9 September. On 12 September 1939 he was attacked by a Polish aircraft which shot out his starboard engine. Lent made a forced landing behind German lines.[22] He flew five more missions during the Polish campaign, destroying one anti-aircraft battery. For his actions in the Polish campaign Lent was awarded one of the first Iron Cross 2nd Class of World War II on 21 September 1939. I./ZG 76 relocated to the Stuttgart area on 29 September 1939 to defend the western border against the French and British, who had been at war with Germany since 3 September 1939.[23] From early October to middle December I./ZG 76 operated from a number of airfields in the Stuttgart and Ruhr areas before relocating north to Jever on 16 December 1939.[24]

Battle of the Heligoland Bight

During the first month of the war the Royal Air Force (RAF) mostly focused its bomber attacks against anti-shipping operations on the German Bight. RAF bombers mounted a heavy attack against shipping off Wilhelmshaven on 18 December 1939 in what became to be known as the Battle of the Heligoland Bight.[25] Twenty-four twin-engine Vickers Wellington from No. 9 Squadron, No. 37 Squadron and No. 149 Squadron formed up over Norfolk heading for the island of Heligoland. Two aircraft aborted the mission due to mechanical defects, but the remaining 22 pursued the attack and were spotted by a Freya radar on the East Frisian Islands.[26]

Helmut Lent was ordered to intercept and engage the attacking bomber force and after refuelling—Lent had just landed at Jever from an armed patrol—claimed three Wellingtons, two of which, shot down at 14:30 and 14:45, were later confirmed.[27] The two aircraft were both from No. 37 Squadron, captained by Flying Officer P.A. Wimberley and Flying Officer O.J.T. Lewis respectively, and both crashed in the shallow sea off Borkum. It is likely that his third claim may have been No. 37 Squadron Wellington 1A N2396, LF-J, piloted by Sergeant H. Ruse, which crash-landed on the sand dunes of Borkum.[28] Lent was refused the victory over Wimberley, as the Wellington was attacked by Lent after it had already been badly damaged and was about to crash. The Wellington was credited to pilot Carl-August Schumacher.[29]

His success as a fighter pilot over the North Sea had made him a minor national hero. Exploits such as those at Heligoland made good news stories for German propaganda machine. Consequently, he attracted fan mail—mainly from young girls and women—among them Elisabeth Petersen. Lent replied to her letter, and he and Elisabeth met on a blind date at the Reichshof hotel in Hamburg, after which they enjoyed a skiing holiday in Hirschegg in February 1940.[30]

Norwegian Campaign and Battle of Britain

A black-and-white photo of a biplane sitting on the ground, shown in semi profile, viewed from the left-rear. The left wing and nose is buried in the ground.
Norwegian Gladiator 427 brought down by Lent on 9 April 1940[31]

On 8 April 1940 eight aircraft of 1./ZG 76, under the command of Staffelkapitän Werner Hansen, deployed northward from Jever to Westerland on Sylt in preparation for operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway.[32] The German plan for the attack called for an amphibious assault on the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and six major ports from Kristiansand in the south to Narvik in the north.[33] Simultaneously, Junkers 52 (Ju 52) transport aircraft would drop parachute troops to secure Oslo's Fornebu airport. Additional Ju 52s were scheduled to arrive at Fornebu twenty minutes after the parachute drop, by which time the airfield had to be in German hands. 1./ZG 76 was to provide air cover and ground-attack support for both waves. Eight Bf 110 Zerstörer of 1./ZG 76 took off at 7:00 in the morning, planning to synchronize their arrival at Fornebu with the parachute drop at 8:45. The distance from Westerland to Fornebu meant that this was a one-way operation; the Bf 110s could not hold enough fuel for the return trip. Their fuel was calculated to provide them 20 minutes flying time over Fornebu,[34] and the pilots would have to land at Fornebu once the airfield had been seized.[35]

A black-and-white photo of a three-engine aircraft flying over trees. The aircraft is viewed from the front and below. Among the trees is a house with three people standing in front of it. A further aircraft is sitting on the ground and viewed from the rear-right.
Lent's Bf 110C ran out of fuel and was forced to land at Oslo/Fornebu airfield on 9 April 1940.[36] A troop-carrying Ju 52 flies over Lent's belly-landed Bf 110.[37]

On the early morning flight to Fornebu, Lent engaged and shot down a Norwegian Gloster Gladiator.[31] While the Ju 52s transporting the German paratroops came under heavy fire, Lent's Rotte engaged the enemy ground positions. Lent's starboard engine caught fire, forcing him to land immediately. With Kubisch manning the movable machine gun, Lent negotiated the capitulation with the Norwegian ground forces and the airfield was in German hands.[38]

At 18:50 the same day, Lent and his Staffelkapitän Werner Hansen took off again from Fornebu in undamaged Bf 110s. During the 40-minute flight, they came across a RAF Short Sunderland flying boat, serial number L2167, from No. 210 Squadron RAF which they shot down together; Hansen received credit for the "kill".[39] Helmut Lent was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on 13 May 1940 before he was transferred to Trondheim on 18 May.[40] He claimed his second aerial victory of the Norwegian campaign on 27 May over a RAF Gloster Gladiator from No. 263 Squadron RAF, piloted by Flight Lieutenant Caesar Hull. On 2 June 1940 Lent and his wingman Thönes claimed a Gladiator each. The flight lasted 5 hours and 46 minutes and their opponents were again from No. 263 Squadron, aircraft serial number N5893 piloted by Pilot Officer J.L. Wilkie, and N5681 piloted by Pilot Officer L.R. Jacobsen. He claimed his seventh victory overall and final of the Norwegian theatre of operations on 15 June 1940 over a No. 254 Squadron RAF Bristol Blenheim, piloted by Pilot Officer P.C. Gaylord. On 1 July 1940 Lent was promoted to Oberleutnant and on 13 July 1./ZG 76 was relocated to Stavanger/Forus.[31]

Helmut Lent briefly participated in the Battle of Britain when on 15 August 1940 twenty-one Bf 110s from I./ZG 76 escorted He 111 bombers from Kampfgeschwader 26 (KG 26) on their attack on Yorkshire and the Newcastle/Sunderland area. I./ZG 76 lost seven aircraft on this mission and it was Helmut Lent's 98th and final mission as a Zerstörer pilot.[41]

Night fighter career

By June 1940 RAF Bomber Command penetrations of German airspace had increased to the level at which Hermann Göring decreed that a night-fighter force should be formed. The officer tasked with its creation was Wolfgang Falck, Gruppenkommandeur of the I./Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1).[42] The night-fighter force began to expand rapidly, with existing units being divided to form the nucleus of new units. By October 1940 Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1) comprised three Gruppen, while Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 (NJG 2) and Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (NJG 3), were still forming.[43] It was during this period that Helmut Lent reluctantly became a member of the night-fighter force. At the end of August Lent wrote home, "We are currently converting to night fighting. We are not very enthusiastic. We would sooner head directly for England."[44]

Lent completed night fighter training at Ingolstadt in south-western Germany, and was appointed squadron leader, or Staffelkapitän, of the newly formed 6./NJG 1 on 1 October 1940. The squadron was based at Fliegerhorst Deelen, located 12.5 kilometres (8 mi) north of Arnhem in the Netherlands. On the night 11–12 May 1941, Lent claimed his first nocturnal aerial victories against two Wellington IC bombers from No. 40 Squadron RAF on a mission against Hamburg. BL-H (serial number R1330) was shot down at 01:40 near Süderstapel and BL-Z (R1461) at 02:49 near Nordstrand.[45]

On 1 July 1941, he took command of 4./NJG 1, stationed in the Netherlands at Fliegerhorst (airfield) Leeuwarden, 161 kilometres (100 mi) north of Arnheim, on the Friesland coast, where he remained until his death. From this position in the so-called German Bight, the squadron patrolled the North Sea coast, and could intercept Allied night-time bombing missions, what Nazi propaganda called terror attacks, which were conducted from England.[46] By the end of the war, the 4./NJG 1 was one of the most successful Nachtjagdstaffel—a squadron of a night fighter wing—of the Luftwaffe. Other members included such night fighter pilots as Oberleutnant Helmut Woltersdorf, Leutnant Ludwig Becker (44 victories, KIA February 1943), Leutnant Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld (51 victories, killed in a flying accident in the Netherlands in March 1944), Leutnant Leopold Fellerer (41 victories), Oberfeldwebel Paul Gildner (46 victories, killed in a flying accident at Fliegerhorst Gilze-Rijen in the Netherlands in February 1943), and Unteroffizier Siegfried Ney (12 victories, KIA February 1943). On 30 August 1941, Lent received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for seven daytime and 14 night victories.[47]

On 1 November 1941, Lent became acting Group Commander Gruppenkommandeur of the newly formed II./NJG 2.[48] Lent's first aerial victory as a Gruppenkommandeur, his 20th night-time, and his last in 1941, came during the night of Friday 7 November to Saturday 8 November. He shot down a Wellington 1C heading for Berlin, which came down near Akkrum. The six-man crew of the bomber, X9976 of No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, was killed in action. This achievement earned Lent a reference in the Wehrmachtbericht (his first of six in total), an information bulletin issued by the headquarters of the Wehrmacht. To be singled out individually in the Wehrmachtbericht was an honour and was entered in the Orders and Decorations' section of one's Service Record Book.[49]

Lent (third from right) in a Nazi propaganda photograph, summer 1942, France.

Lent was promoted to Hauptmann on 1 January 1942.[50] Later that year, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves on 6 June 1942, at which time his total stood at 34 nocturnal victories plus seven day-time victories.[47] The award was presented at the Führerhauptquartier on 28 and 29 June, his tally standing then at 39 nocturnal and seven day-time victories.[51] Lent also held the distinction of achieving the first Lichtenstein radar-assisted air victory in a Dornier Do 215B-5 night fighter.[52] Lent flew Dornier Do 215B-5 code R4+DC regularly on Himmelbett missions because of its five-hour endurance. Lent claimed at least four victories in this machine.[53]

By the end of 1942, Lent had 56 victories and was the top German night-fighter ace. He was promoted to Major on 1 January 1943 and appointed Geschwaderkommodore of Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (NJG 3) on 1 August 1943.[54] After 73 kills, of which 65 were claimed at night, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 2 August 1943 and notified by telegram on 4 August.[55] The Swords were presented to him at the Führerhauptquartier at Rastenburg on 10/11 August 1943.[56]

In January 1944, Lent downed three so-called "heavies"—four-engined strategic bombers—in one night, but his aircraft was damaged by return fire, requiring a forced landing. He used only 22 cannon shells to down two bombers on the night of the 22–23 March 1944, and fired only 57 rounds in seven minutes against three Avro Lancasters on 15–16 June. Promoted to Oberstleutnant, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds in recognition of his 110 confirmed air kills, the first of two night-fighter pilots to be awarded the decoration.[57] The second was Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, who, with 121 aerial victories, became aviation history's leading night-fighter pilot.[58]

Personal life

All German officers were required to obtain official permission to marry; however, this was usually a bureaucratic formality. When Lent decided to marry Elizabeth Petersen, his admirer from Hamburg whom he had met on a blind date, his case was more complicated. 'Elisabeth Petersen' was in fact Helene (Lena) Senokosnikova, who had been born in Moscow in April 1914. She had been afraid to reveal her true identity, since Russians were not popular in the Third Reich,[59] but after a thorough investigation into her background and racial ancestry, she received her German citizenship on 15 March 1941. They were married on 10 September 1941 in Wellingsbüttel, Hamburg.[60] The marriage produced two daughters. Christina was born on 6 June 1942; the second, Helma, was born on 6 October 1944, shortly after her father's fatal crash.[61]

Both of Helmut's older brothers, Joachim and Werner, as members of the Confessing Church (German: Bekennende Kirche), encountered trouble with the Nazi Party. The Confessing Church, led by Pastor Martin Niemöller, was a schismatic Protestant church which opposed the Reich's efforts to "Nazify" Germany's Protestant churches. It stood in outspoken opposition to National Socialist principles, particularly those embodied in the Aryan Paragraph. Through the Barmen Declaration, the church condemned the national German Evangelical Church as heretical. Werner Lent, an adherent of the Confessing church, was arrested for the first time in 1937 after preaching an anti-Nazi sermon.[62] In June 1942, his brother Joachim was arrested by the Gestapo after reading the so-called Mölders letter from the pulpit. The Mölders letter was a propaganda piece conceived by Sefton Delmer, the chief of the British black propaganda in the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) to capitalize on the death of Germany's fighter ace Werner Mölders; this letter, ostensibly written by Mölders, attested to the supreme importance of his Catholic faith in his life—by implication, placing faith above his allegiance to the National Socialist Party.[63]

Death

A black-and-white photo of six soldiers standing around a flag-covered coffin.
Hermann Göring speaking at Lent's funeral[64]

On 5 October 1944, Lent flew his Junkers Ju-88 G–6, coded D5+AA, from Stade to Paderborn. His crew included his long-time radio operator Oberfeldwebel Walter Kubisch, the member of a Propagandakompanie (Wehrmacht Propaganda Troops) Leutnant Werner Kark in the aerial gunner position, and Oberleutnant Hermann Klöss, second radio operator. Lent was on his way to visit the Geschwaderkommodore of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 1, Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs, to discuss operational matters.[65] Shortly before the arrival at Paderborn/Nordborchen, the airfield had come under attack by the United States Army Air Forces, leaving craters on the runway. An emergency makeshift runway was cleared and marked out for Lent, but an overhead electrical cable was overlooked.[66] During the landing approach, the left engine of the plane failed, causing the wing to dip. Lent was unable to keep the plane steady and it struck high-voltage cables and crashed. All four members of the crew sustained serious injuries but were rescued alive. Kubisch and Klöss succumbed to their injuries on the same day, Kark on the next morning and Lent himself died two days later on 7 October 1944.[67]

Lent's state funeral was held in the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, on Wednesday 11 October 1944. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring took the salute at Lent's coffin, which was draped in the national flag of the Nazi Germany.[68] Ahead of the coffin, carrying Lent's honours and decorations on a velvet cushion, marched Oberstleutnant Werner Streib, the Inspector of Night Fighters. Six steel-helmeted officers, all recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, escorted the coffin on its caisson and stood as guard of honour during the ceremony: Oberstleutnant Günther Radusch, Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs, Major Rudolf Schoenert, Hauptmann Heinz Strüning, Hauptmann Karl Hadeball and Hauptmann Paul Zorner.[69] On 12 October 1944 Lent and his crew were interred in a single grave in the military cemetery at Stade.[70]

Commemoration

A number of Helmut Lent's awards were auctioned at Sotheby's, London, on 18 July 1966. The items were bought in one lot by an anonymous bidder for the total sum of £500. The purchaser was Adolf Galland, the former General der Jagdflieger, acting on behalf of the West German Ministry of Defence. The awards were sold by Helmut Lent's elder daughter Christina after consultation with her mother, Lena, who was in urgent need for money to pay for an operation. The Federal Ministry of Defence presented the collection to the Wehrgeschichtliches Museum Rastatt, Germany.[71]

In 1964, West German Army Aviation Corps installation in Rotenburg (Wümme), Lower Saxony was named the Lent Barracks, or Lent-Kaserne, on a recommendation of Lent's former superior.[72] In 2014, the Bundeswehr decided to rename the facility as Lent was no longer considered to be an appropriate namesake. The process, which is expected to finalize in end 2015, involves 1,500 soldiers and 250 civil employees of the site and was initiated by the commander Oberstleutnant Edmund Vogel in early 2015.[73] In September 2016 the district administrator Herrmann Luttmann, member of the moderate right-wing Party CDU stated "No substantial evidence has been found that indeed Helmut Lent was a supporter of the Nazi regime". Luttmann will therefore recommend to keep the name to the local government. Lars Klingbeil, member of the Bundestag and of the Defence Committee has signaled that the German armed forced would adhere to the decision made on local level despite all controversies.[74]

"It's long overdue to rename the last barracks named after Wehrmacht officers," Professor Johannes Tuchel, head of the German Resistance Memorial, told Bild am Sonntag. "Officers like Schulz, Lent and Marseille fought in Hitler's war and were part of Nazi propaganda." The barracks should be renamed after soldiers who resisted the Nazi regime, he said. "Those who fought for human rights and the rule of law cannot be commemorated enough."[75] Historian Wolfram Wette concurs with this opinion, citing the tradition directive of 1982. Historian Sönke Neitzel has the opinion that the Bundeswehr should keep the name of Lent, who was not a Nazi but only a value-oriented person who followed his Christian image of humankind (christlichen Menschenbild), even if no Wehrmacht soldier came out of the war completely clean. Despite this, Neitzel thinks that except the case of Erwin Rommel, in five year no Bundeswehr barracks will retain the name of a Wehrmacht man anymore, since soldiers do not want to risk their careers to defend names unwanted by the Ministry of Defence.[76]

Summary of career

Aerial victory claims

Lent is officially credited with 111 victories in 507 flights. The total includes 103 victories at night, during which he destroyed 59 four-engine bombers and one Mosquito, among other types. Lent received a posthumous promotion to Oberst (Colonel).[Note 4] Matthews and Foreman, authors of Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims, researched the German Federal Archives and found documentation for 111 aerial victory claims, including seven as a Zerstörer pilot and 104 as a night fighter pilot, plus three further unconfirmed claims.[78]

The majority of his victories were claimed with detailed geographical locations. However, two of his victories were claimed in a Planquadrat (grid reference), for example "QE-PE". The Luftwaffe grid map (Jägermeldenetz) was composed of rectangles measuring 15 minutes of latitude by 30 minutes of longitude, an area of about 360 square miles (930 km2).[79]

Awards

Lent's Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on display at the Bundeswehr Military History Museum in Dresden

Promotions

1 April 1936: Fahnenjunker (Cadet)[9]
1 April 1937: Fähnrich (Ensign)[13]
1 February 1938: Oberfähnrich (Senior Ensign)[155]
1 March 1938: Leutnant (Second Lieutenant)[14]
1 July 1940: Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant)[156]
1 January 1942: Hauptmann (Captain)[50]
1 January 1943: Major (Major)[54]
1 March 1944: Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel)[57]
Posthumously: Oberst (Colonel)[79]

Notes

  1. ^ For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces
  2. ^ See Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II for an explanation of the Luftwaffe structure.
  3. ^ After 1933 the school was renamed Hermann Göring Hochschule.[6]
  4. ^ According to Jerry Scutts 113 victories of which 102 at night.[77]
  5. ^ According to Hincliffe, this aerial victory was over a Lancaster bomber claimed over Berlin-Tegel.[120]
  6. ^ According to Scherzer as Staffelkapitän of the 4./NJG 1[151]

References

Citations

  1. ^ Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
  2. ^ a b c Fraschka 1994, pp. 185–189.
  3. ^ a b c Williamson 2006, pp. 31–41.
  4. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 2–4.
  5. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. xvi.
  6. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 6.
  7. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 8–11.
  8. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 5–12.
  9. ^ a b Fraschka 1994, p. 186.
  10. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 13.
  11. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 17–18.
  12. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 21.
  13. ^ a b Hinchliffe 2003, p. 22.
  14. ^ a b Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 24–25.
  15. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 29.
  16. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 30–31.
  17. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 32.
  18. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 33.
  19. ^ a b Hinchliffe 2003, p. 34.
  20. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 35.
  21. ^ Bekker 1994, p. 37.
  22. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 40–41.
  23. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 42.
  24. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 46.
  25. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 44.
  26. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 45.
  27. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 47–49.
  28. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 50.
  29. ^ Holmes 2010, pp. 78—81.
  30. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, pp. 54–55.
  31. ^ a b c Hinchliffe 2003, p. 61.
  32. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 57.
  33. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 58.
  34. ^ Bekker 1994, p. 84.
  35. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 59.
  36. ^ Weal 1999, p. 26.
  37. ^ Hinchliffe 2003, p. 62.
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Military offices
Preceded by
Major Johann Schalk
Commander of Nachtjagdgeschwader 3
1 August 1943 – 7 October 1944
Succeeded by
Oberst Günther Radusch