Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Wever, Walter (1887–1936)

German air force general who was instrumental in developing the Luftwaffe. Born in Posen, Prussia (today's Poznan, Poland), on 11 November 1887, Walter Wever joined the army as an officer cadet in 1905. He served as platoon leader early in World War I. Promoted to captain in 1915, he was assigned as a staff officer in the German High Command two years later. Following the war, Wever continued to serve on the clandestine German General Staff. In 1933, his name and that of Erich von Manstein were submitted to Hermann Göring to fill the position of chief of the Air Command Office, essentially chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff. Göring selected Wever, who was known for his keen intellect, hard work, and ability to grasp quickly the key concepts of complex problems.

Wever threw himself into his work and was one the key architects of the Luftwaffe. An ardent Nazi, he used Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf as the basis for planning the air force. He deduced that the Soviet Union was the real enemy and believed the Luftwaffe would need a long-range bomber to strike Soviet bases and factories. Wever remained the chief advocate of a four-engine, strategic "Ural" bomber. He believed that the other central tasks for the Luftwaffe were achieving air superiority and providing ground support. Toward this end, he set about developing and organizing a balanced air force.

As chief of the Air Command Office, Wever was constantly traveling to visit his units and pilots and learn firsthand of their problems. He insisted on flying himself as an example to his subordinates. On 3 June 1936, during a visit to Dresden, Wever failed to release the aileron lock on his aircraft and crashed at the end of the runway. With his death, the Luftwaffe lost one of its leading strategic visionaries. His death also brought a shift in Luftwaffe priorities to tactical airpower.

M. R. Pierce


Further Reading
Bekker, Cajus. The Luftwaffe War Diaries. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.; Faber, Harold. Luftwaffe: A History. New York: New York Times Books, 1977.; Mitcham, Samuel W. Eagles of the Third Reich: The Men Who Made the Luftwaffe. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1997.
 

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