Luftwaffe eagle
Luftwaffe logo


February 1935


August 1946

Ministers responsible

Adolf Hitler (Führer)
Hermann Göring (Reichsmarschall)

Luftwaffe (German pronunciation: [ˈlʊftvafə]) is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces: the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946, and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956.

The forerunner of the Luftwaffe, the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte), was founded in 1910 with the name Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches, and changed to the name "Luftstreitkräfte" by the end of 1916. After the German defeat after World War I, the service was dissolved completely on 8 May 1920 under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. Since the Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany to have an air force, German pilots trained in violation of the treaty in secret.

In February 1935, Adolf Hitler ordered Hermann Göring to establish the Luftwaffe, breaking the Treaty of Versailles's ban on German military aviation. Germany violated the treaty without sanction from Britain, France, or the League of Nations, and neither the League nor either country did anything to oppose this. Although the new air force was to be run totally separately from the army, it retained the tradition of according army ranks for its officers and airmen, a tradition retained today by united Germany's Luftwaffe and by many air forces throughout the world.

In the second half of 1940, the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain over the skies of England, the first all-air battle. Following the military failures on the Eastern Front, from 1942 onwards, the Luftwaffe went into a steady, gradual decline that saw it outnumbered and overwhelmed by the sheer number of Allied aircraft being deployed against it. There was also very little time to develop the new aircraft, and they could not be produced fast enough by the Germans.

In the parodies

Many of the characters in Downfall are Luftwaffe members, including Hermann Göring, Robert Ritter von Greim, Hanna Reitsch, Karl Koller, Hans Baur as well as unseen characters like Albert Kesselring and Harald Quandt.

Each character has appeared in parodies, serving different roles.


Luffwaffe Members

Lufftwaffe Vehicles



  • Today, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) is part of the modern German Land Armies (Bundeswehr)
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