This study was written for the Historical Division, EUCOM, by a committee of former German officers. It follows an outline prepared by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Special Staff, United States Army, which is given below:
1. a. A review of German airborne experience in World War II.
b. An appraisal of German successes and failures.
c. Reasons for the apparent abandonment of large-scale German airborne operations after the Crete operation.
2. a. German experience in opposing Allied and Russian airborne operations.
b. An appraisal of the effectiveness of these operations.
3. The probable future of airborne operations.
It is believed that the contributors to this study (listed on page iv) represent a valid cross-section of expert German opinion on airborne operations. Since the contributors include Luftwaffe and Army officers at various levels of command, some divergences of opinion are inevitable; these have been listed and, wherever possible, evaluated by the principal German author. However, the opinions of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring are given separately and without comment wherever they occur in the course of the presentation.
The reader is reminded that publications of the GERMAN REPORT SERIES were written by Germans and from the German point of view. Organization, equipment, and procedures of the German Army and Luftwaffe differ considerably from those of the United States armed forces.
This study is concerned only with the landing of airborne fighting forces in an area occupied or controlled by an enemy and with the subsequent tactical commitment of those forces in conventional ground combat. The employment of airborne units in commando operations, or in the supply and reinforcement of partisans and insurgents, is not included in this study, nor is the shifting of forces by troop-carrier aircraft in the rear of the combat zone. Such movements, which attained large size and great strategic importance during World War II, should not be confused with tactical airborne operations.
Generalmajor (Brigadier General) Hellmuth Reinhardt, committee chairman and principal author, was Deputy Chief, General Army Office, 1941-43, and later Chief of Staff, Eighth Army, on the southern front in the Ukraine and Romania.
Contributors on German airborne operations:
Generalleutant (Major General) Werner Ehrig, operations officer of the 22d (Army Air Landing) division during the attack on Holland.
Oberst (Colonel) Freiherr von der Heydte, an outstanding field commander of German parachute troops, author of the "Appendix."
Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) Albert Kesselring, commander of the German Second Air Force during the Netherlands campaign, and later Commander in Chief, Southwest.
General der Fallschirmtruppen (Lieutenant General) Eugen Meindl, regimental commander during the attack on Crete, later airborne division and corps commander.
Generalleutant (Major General) Max Pemsel, Chief of Staff, XVIII Corps, which included the ground forces committed in the attack on Crete.
Generaloberst (General) Kurt Student, the chief of German parachute troops during the entire war.
Contributors on Allied airborne operations, and on German defense measures against them:
General der Infanterie (Lieutenant General) Guenther Blumentritt, Chief of Staff, OB West.
Oberst (Colonel) Albert Emmerich, G-3, German First Army.
General der Flakartillerie (Lieutenant General) August Schmidt, in 1944 commander of Luftgau VI, which provided the mobile troops to combat Allied airborne landings at Nijmegen and Arnhem.
General der Kavallerie (Lieutenant General) Siegfried Westphal, the chief of staff of OB Southwest in Sicily and Italy, and later of OB West.
Oberst (Colonel) Fritz Ziegelmann, G-3, 352d Infantry Division.