- Kurt Student
Infobox Military Person
12 May 1890– 1 July 1978
World War I World War II
House Order of Hohenzollern"
"Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves"
Kurt Student (
May 12, 1890– July 1, 1978) was a German " Luftwaffe" generalwho fought as a fighter pilot during the First World War and as the commander of German Fallschirmjäger(parachute) troops during the Second World War.
Student was born in Birkholz, a village in the
Landkreisof Züllichau-Schwiebusin the Prussian province of Brandenburg, in a region now located in Poland.
Student entered the
Imperial German Armyas an officer candidate in 1910 and was commissioned a lieutenantin March 1911. After serving initially with a light infantry ("Jäger") battalion, he underwent pilot training in 1913. He served from the beginning of World War I until February 1916 with "Feldflieger-Abteilung 17" on the Galician front, and then on the Western Front in aerial units of the Third Army, including "Jagdstaffel 9" ("Jasta 9") (which he commanded from October 1916 to May 1917). He scored 6 victories over the French aircraft in 1916-1917.
During the interwar period Student tried to keep German military aviation from becoming technologically obsolete, since under the
Treaty of VersaillesGermany was forbidden to maintain an air force. In the immediate post-war years, he was assigned to military research and development. He became involved in gliding, since gliding was not forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles. He also attended the Red Army Air Forces manoeuvres, where he first came in contact with the idea of airborne operations.
After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the "Luftwaffe" was secretly reestablished. Student transferred from the Army to the "Luftwaffe" and was appointed by Hermann Göring to be the head of the "Luftwaffe's" training schools, a position which became official when the Treaty of Versailles was renounced in 1935. In July 1938, he was named commander of airborne and air-landing troops, and in September commanding general of the "7. Flieger-Division", Germany's first "Fallschirmjäger" division.
Although the division played no part in the invasion of Poland, his troops proved their value during the "
Blitzkrieg" of 1940 in the Low Countries, where troops under his command captured the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael. He was accidentally shot in the head by other German troops in Rotterdam following the Battle of Rotterdam. The wound put him out of action for 8 months [cite book | author = B. H. Liddell Hart| title = History of the Second World War | publisher = Konecky & Konecky | date = 1971 | page = 67] . He was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Crossfor his leadership and bravery in these operations.
In January 1941, Student was named commanding general of the "XI. Fliegerkorps", the newly formed command for the expanding German airborne forces. In this capacity, Student directed "Operation Mercury" ("
Unternehmen Merkur"), the capture of the island of Creteduring the Battle of Cretein May 1941. [In January 1941 he is known to have proposed a similar operation against forces in Northern Irelandalong the same lines of Plan Kathleen, at the time Göring told him that his focus should be on the airborne conquest of Gibraltarvia Operation Felix.Fact|date=May 2008] The operation was successful, but incurred so many casualties that Hitler forbade future airborne operations.
In 1943 Student ordered Major
Harald Morsto plan "Operation Oak" (" Unternehmen Eiche"), the spectacularly successful raid conducted by a special " Fallschirmjäger" unit, to free Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. They landing with gliders and STOLaircraft on a hilltop. The well-known Waffen SS commando Otto Skorzenytook part in this operation. Student received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his role in the operation.
Student was transferred to
Italyand later to France, where he was involved in the defence of Normandyin 1944. He was put in charge of the First Paratroop Army and took part in countering the allied Operation Market Garden, near Arnhem. After a brief time at the Eastern Front in Mecklenburgin 1945, he was captured by British forces in Schleswig-Holsteinin April of that same year. He was held by the British as a prisoner of waruntil freed in 1948.
House Order of Hohenzollern(summer 1917)
* Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
** Knight's Cross (12 May 1940)
** 305. Oak Leaves (27 September 1943)
Combined Pilots-Observation Badgein Gold with Diamonds (2 September 1941)
* Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer. "Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945". Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas, 2000. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
* Kurowski, Franz. "Knights of the Wehrmacht Knight's Cross Holders of the Fallschirmjäger". Schiffer Military, 1995. ISBN 0-88740-749-8.
German 1st Parachute Division
German 1st Parachute Army
Crete order of battle
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