Ex-Luftwaffe pilot to be U.S. citizen

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    This guy is in Southern cal..... near where evansglider lives.

    By John Mitchell,
    December 15, 2006

    Sixty-four years ago, Wolfgang Kaupisch was a young lieutenant in the German Luftwaffe, dropping bombs on Americans and their allies in England.
    Two years later, he was involved in an assassination attempt on his führer, Adolf Hitler.

    Today, Kaupisch, 91, accompanied by his 83-year-old Chicago-born wife, Marie, plans to sit in a wheelchair and swear allegiance to the United States. The naturalization ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

    The 12-year Westlake Village resident has been in the United States since the early 1960s and only recently felt pressed to become a citizen. He said he had a green card — renewable every 12 years — which gave him the same rights as Americans, except the right to vote.

    "But he always knew what was going on, and he would tell me how to vote," his wife said.

    Kaupisch said in recent years he took stock of his American experience. "This country has been good to me," he said this week, "and wherever we've lived, the people have been friendly to us. You might say my becoming a citizen is an act of gratitude on my part."

    He was born Jan. 13, 1915, in a Berlin hospital, only because his parents were told his delivery would be difficult, and they wanted the best care. They went to the capital from the town of Mecklenburg, a city about 10 miles from the Baltic Sea and the place where he was later raised.

    Drafted by German air force In 1937, when he was 22 and a student at the University of Berlin, he was considering a career as either an officer in the armed forces or a diplomat. In April, the government made the decision for him. He was drafted into the Luftwaffe, the German air force.

    Over the next few years, he was assigned to an anti-aircraft unit as a sergeant. Later, he took flying lessons and managed to hone his piloting skills through target flying for batteries checking the accuracy of their big guns.

    During this time, he was able to finish the requirements for a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Berlin. Those plans had been interrupted by the draft.

    "I only needed about four months to complete my dissertation and other work," he said. "My battalion commander could only give passes for one day, so one time he gave me 160 one-day passes. All I had to do was make sure I had a pass with the right date in my pocket."

    In spring 1940, Germany unleashed ferocious attacks against Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and France. In May, its army pushed its way into France, and Kaupisch's anti-aircraft unit was with them. During the fighting, Kaupisch earned an Iron Cross Second Class when his artillery pieces helped sink a British destroyer, and an Iron Cross First Class when the artillery silenced a French machine gun.

    In October 1941, he flew his first combat mission, as a co-pilot and navigator on a Junkers 88 bomber. It was a daylight raid on Coventry, England, and Kaupisch said he was nervous.

    "I don't believe it when people say they never felt anything on their first mission," he said. One combat wound On his 14th mission, over London, Kaupisch sustained his only combat wound. "An anti-aircraft shell exploded too close for comfort," he said. "I was seated in the right seat, the co-pilot's seat, when a piece of shrapnel banged through the skin of the aircraft and into my right-hip area, very close to the hip joint. It was too close for surgery."
    It could have been worse. His mother-in-law at the time had given him a metal case to keep his cigarettes dry, and that little box took some of the shrapnel.
    "I still have a metal souvenir next to my hip joint," he said.

    In late 1942, he was assigned to Luftwaffe general staff intelligence in Berlin. He was in that position in 1944 when a plot was hatched by high-ranking officers to assassinate Hitler.

    Kaupisch, by then a first lieutenant, said he played a "messenger boy" role in the plot, making several trips between Berlin and an anti-Hitler group in Paris. The messages he carried were in his head, keeping them from Nazi agents.
    The plot failed, and the major who had brought him into the group was brutally tortured, then put to death.

    "But he never told them any names," Kaupisch said, which probably saved him from a similar fate. Employed by World Bank Late in the war, Kaupisch was captured by American soldiers and put in a prisoner-of- war camp in Paris, where he remained until May 26, 1946.

    From 1962 to 1980, Kaupisch served as a senior loan officer for the Washington, D.C.-based World Bank. His job was to present loan applications to the bank's board of directors. He remembers very few loans under $50 million.

    These days, he enjoys reading his daily newspaper and spending time with his seven children and 14 grandchildren.

    "Marie and I have been living comfortably for 26 years on the pension the World Bank pays me. I worked for them 18 years, and they've paid me for 26 years so far," he said, laughing.

    Ventura County Star: Conejo Valley
     

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  2. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Well, well, Forgive them their faults, or your Heavenly Father won't forgive you yours. I suppose he still wouldn't be welcome in Coventry, England, even today. What say you British?
     
  3. R-2800

    R-2800 Member

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    wow what a story
     
  4. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Very interesting.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I think its great. A soldier who did his job and now he wants to be a part of the country that he lived in for so long. :salute:
     
  6. Chingachgook

    Chingachgook Banned

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    Soundbreaker,

    I have lived and worked in both England and Germany. Most (not all) people seem to have forgotten the war (more than we have?), it just isn't an issue and has not been for a very long time. Germany and England are about as far away from each other as Connecticut is from Pennsylvania and corporations there are such a mix of nationalities... Once in a while I hear them joke about it with each other ("hey, last time my father saw Coventry was from 20k feet etc") but all rather light hearted - from what I saw anyway.
     
  7. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    I know full well this sounds pithy, but c'mon how many years has it been since the war's end ?

    let it lie
     
  8. Parmigiano

    Parmigiano Member

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    I can only fully agree with the concept 'the war is over'

    World and civilization existed thousands of years before WW2 and will hopefully continue for thousands years after it
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Im with Erich on this. It should not be forgotten but the time has come...
     
  10. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Enemies one day friends the next, I see nothing wrong with that. Perhaps part of that comes from MMA and hockey. Fight someone, hurt someone and you might still go out for beers later.

    War is war nothing personal about it. Unless he had been a war criminal then whats the problem? He was doing nothing but his job and duty.

    I salute him just like I would salute a Canadian Vet from WW2. It would be a honor to meet him for me.
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I agree. He was not a war criminal. I would love to sit down with him and talk with him about his experiences over a few beers.
     
  12. Nonskimmer

    Nonskimmer Active Member

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    I think I would too, actually.
     
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