Nick Name: Keffer, Dolfo
Birthday: March 19, 1912
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Adolf Josef Ferdinand Galland
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Herten, Germany
Famous as: Military Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Heidi Horn (m. 1984), Hannelies Ladwein (m. 1963–1973), Sylvinia von Dönhoff (m. 1954–1963)
father: Adolf Galland Sr
mother: Anna Schipper
siblings: Paul Galland, Wilhelm-Ferdinand Galland
children: Andreas Hubertus
Died on: February 9, 1996
place of death: Remagen
education: Hindenburg Gymnasium (high school)
awards: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Swords and Diamonds
Who was Adolf Galland?
Adolf Galland was a German military general and flying ace who served during the World War II as a commander of the fighter forces for the Luftwaffe (German air force). Galland was born in Westerholt, Westphalia. He graduated as a pilot from the German Commercial Flyers’ School in Braunschweig, after which he applied to join the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic. He was accepted and later transferred to the Luftwaffe. He took part in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. When the World War II began, he took part in the German invasion of Poland, where he flew ground attack missions. He also led a fighter squadron during the Battle of Britain. He was then promoted to the post of commander of the Luftwaffe’s fighter arm. He was eventually promoted to a major general. At the age of 30, he was the youngest general in the German armed forces. Despite his capability, Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goring blamed him for the gradual collapse of the German air defenses in 1944, and he was relieved of his command. He was captured and imprisoned for some time at the end of the war. He eventually passed away on 9th February 1996, in Oberwinter, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
Childhood & Early Life
Adolf Galland was born in Westerholt, Westphalia, on 19th March 1912. His family had French Huguenot ancestry. He was one of the four sons of Adolf Galland (Sr.) and Anna Schipper. His two younger brothers, Paul and Wilhelm-Ferdinand, also became fighter pilots and aces.
Galland started developing an interest in flying when a few aviation enthusiasts brought a glider club to Westerholt. By the age of 19, he had become a glider pilot. He completed his pilot training and graduated in 1932, from the Gelsenkirchen Luftsportverein (German Commercial Flyers` School).
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As a pilot, Adolf Galland’s first flight was in an Albatros L 101. His early career was not much successful. On one of his first flights, he made a heavy landing and damaged the undercarriage of his aircraft. Eventually, he improved and was allowed to fly a large aircraft weighing over 2500 kilograms.
In 1933, he was sent to the Baltic Sea training base to train on flying boats at Warnemuende. Later, he attended an interview at the Central Airline Pilot School. After learning of a secret military program that involved piloting high performance aircraft, all the pilots agreed to join the organization.
In May 1933, Adolf Galland was ordered to attend a meeting in Berlin as one of the 12 civilian pilots among 70 airmen who had come from secretive programs. He met Hermann Goring for the first time. Two months later, he went to Italy to train with the Italian Air Force. Though initially the Italians treated the Germans as inferior, after Galland showed his impressive maneuvers, the Germans won their respect.
During the Spanish Civil War, Galland was appointed Staffelkapitan and sent to support the Nationalist side under Franco at Ferrol in mid-1937. Galland flew ground attack missions in Heinkel He 51s. During his time there, he also developed early gasoline and oil bombs. After the Nationalist victory, he was awarded the Spanish Cross in Gold with Swords and Diamonds for his contribution.
Just before the Second World War broke out, he was promoted to Hauptmann (captain). He took part in the invasion of Poland in 1939. He initially flew ground attack missions and later air support operations.
At the end of the battle, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class. He next took part in the Battle of Britain, during which he destroyed around 100 fighter planes. He was also promoted to a major.
In 1942, Adolf Galland was promoted to the rank of major general. Though this made him the youngest general in the armed forces, he was not very happy with it as he didn’t want to be tied to a desk job instead of his cockpit. That year, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamond.
He had to spend much of the year 1942 inspecting fighter bases on several fronts. This took him to various places, including Russia, Ukraine, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, North Africa and even the Balkan Peninsula.
Despite his capable leadership during the Anglo-American bombing raids, he failed to prevent the destruction of the German air defenses. Both Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goring blamed him for the loss. He was eventually relieved from his command in January 1945.
After the war ended, he was captured by the US Army on 14th May 1945. He remained in captivity till 1947. After his release, he worked for the Argentinian Air Force as well as for various manufacturing firms in Argentina till 1955.
He published his autobiography in 1954; it was titled ‘Die Ersten und die Letzten’ (The First and the Last).
Family & Personal Life
Adolf Galland became acquainted with Baroness Gisela during his time in Argentina. He fell in love with her and proposed marriage. However, she refused to marry him because of the restrictions that were imposed upon her by her former husband’s will. After she left for Germany, Galland married Sylvinia von Donhoff on 12 February 1954. She couldn’t have children. The couple eventually divorced.
The same day he divorced Sylvinia, he married Hannelies Ladwein, his secretary. The couple had two children named Andreas and Alexandra. This marriage too ended in divorce.
He later married Heidi Horn. They remained married until his death.
Adolf Galland passed away on 9th February 1996, at the age of 83.