Udet, Ernst

BORN 26 Apr 1896, Frankfurt am Main, Hessen - DIED 17 Nov 1941, Berlin
CAUSE OF DEATH suicide with gunshot
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Invalidenfriedhof, Scharnhorststrasse 33, Mitte (Feld F (re-erected))

Ernst Udet was a German fighter ace who was in the same squad as Manfred von Richthofen and Hermann Göring. He had a rich father who enabled him to learn to fly even before he entered the army. Udet achieved 62 victories over enemy planes (only Von Richthofen brought down more planes). His first victory was in a Fokker plane on 18 Mar 1916, when he attacked 22 French planes on his own. His last fights were against American planes.

In September 1918 he had to stop fighting because of injuries and was one of the first fighter pilots who escaped death using a parachute.

When the war was over he initially worked as a stunt pilot and even as an actor. He played himself in "Weissen Hölle von Piz Palü" (1929), starring Gustav Diessl and Leni Riefenstahl. On 25 Feb 1920 he had married his girlfriend Eleanor ('Lo') Zink, but it was said that he had many lovers and they were divorced on 16 Feb 1923. In 1934 his mistress Ehmi Bessel gave birth to his daughter, the actress Dinah Hinz.

After the nazis came to power he worked hard to build new aircrafts for the Luftwaffe. He and Göring became friends and the latter gave him important assignments and made him a Major-General. He started a program to build a German dive bomber, which resulted in the Stuka. In 1935 Udet published a book called "Mein Fliegerleben" ("My Life as a Pilot"). More than 300.000 copies were sold.

In 1941 he was held responsible by General Erhard Milch for the failure of the Luftwaffe and Göring turned against him as well. He didn't believe the war could be won by Germany and the attack on the Soviet-Union drove him to despair. He committed suicide by shooting a bullet in his head while he was on the telephone with his lover. The nazis provided him with a state funeral and claimed that he had died in an accident while he was testing a new air weapon.

His grave at the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin was destroyed when the Berlin Wall was built right through the cemetery, but it was re-erected in recent years.

Related persons
• was teacher of Beinhorn, Elly
• was the lover of Bessel, Ehmi
• has a connection with Reitsch, Hanna
• cooperated with Richthofen, Manfred von
• cooperated with Riefenstahl, Leni
• was a friend of Rühmann, Heinz
• was a friend of Wedekind, Tilly

0/2/1938Hanna Reitsch flies a helicopter inside the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin. It was the first helicopter flight ever inside a building. She did it after a request by Ernst Udet and the helicopter was a Focke-Achgelis FA-61. She had previously demonstrated this helicopter to Charles Lindbergh in Bremen. [Reitsch, Hanna]
14/12/1946Premiere of Zuckmayer's "Des Teufels General" in Zürich. It was directed by Heinz Hilpert and the main character was based on Ernst Udet. The performance took place at the Schauspielhaus in Zürich. Gustav Knuth played the main part General Harris and Robert Bichler was Lieutenant Hartmann. Zuckmayer had finished the play in July 1945 in Barnard and dedicated it to his friends Theodor Haubach, Wilhelm Leuschner and Helmuth von Moltke who were all executed by the nazis. [Hilpert, Heinz][Leuschner, Wilhelm]


The grave of Ernst Udet at the Invalidenfriedhof, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (21 Jan 2004)


Biografisch Worterbuch zur Deutsche Geschichte, Francke Verlag, München, 1975
First World War.com - Who's Who - Ernst Udet
Luftfahrtarchiv - Anfänge der Luftfahrtgeschichte bis ca. 1930
Global Industry Market Sizing - NationMaster
Des Teufels General (Drama) – Wikipedia

Uhland, Ludwig

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 25 Dec 2021