Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Schnaufer, Heinz Wolfgang (1922–1950)

German air force officer and leading night-fighter ace. Born in Stuttgart on 16 February 1922, Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer entered the Luftwaffe in 1939 and completed flight training in 1941. Trained to fly the Me-110 twin-engined interceptor, Schnaufer and his radio operator, Fritz Rumplehardt, elected to join the Luftwaffe's night-fighter force. The two remained together throughout the war. In November, they were assigned to Nacht Jagdgeschwader (night-fighter wing) 1 (II/NJG1) of II Gruppe (group) near Hamburg.

Schnaufer did not score his first kill until June 1942, and by the end of the year his score was only 7. In July 1943, he was promoted to first lieutenant and given command of 12 Staffel (squadron) NJG1. By December 1943, he had shot down 42 Allied aircraft and been awarded the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross. In June 1944, when he had increased his score to 84, he was awarded the Oak Leaves of the Knight's Cross. The next month, he was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for his tally of 89 victories. Following his 100th victory in October 1944, Schnaufer was awarded Germany's highest award, the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Sword. He was the last Luftwaffe pilot to be awarded the Diamonds. Schnaufer ended the war as the commander of IV/NJG1 with a final score of 121 Allied aircraft shot down. Known to Royal Air Force Bomber Command as the "Night Ghost of Saint Trond" for his exploits from his operational base, Schnaufer surrendered to the British in May 1945 but was released by the end of the year.

Following the war, Schnaufer took over the family wine business. While returning from a trip to France, he was involved in a road accident on 13 July 1950. He died in the hospital at Munich two days later.

M. R. Pierce


Further Reading
Spick, Mike. Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: The Jagdflieger and Their Combat Tactics and Techniques. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1996.; Toliver Raymond F., and Trevor J. Constable. Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe. Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, 1977.
 

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