Pictured above is the grave of the highest decorated soldier of the German armed forces in World War II, Hans-Ulrich Rudel. Rudel mostly flew the Junkers Ju-87G-1 version of the famous Stuka dive-bomber. This version carried two 37mm cannons in underwing pods and was primarily used against tanks on the Russian front. He flew more than 2,000 sorties and was credited with the destruction of 519 tanks and the sinking of the Soviet warship "Marat" near Leningrad, as well as numerous other vehicles and landing craft. On 1 January 1945 Hitler awarded him the Golden Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross, the only person to ever receive that decoration. Rudel's plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on the 8th of February of that year and he was injured. When he returned to base, the lower part of his right leg was amputated, but later he continued flying and on the 8th of May he flew to Western Germany, where he surrendered to the US Army. He was released from captivity in June 1946 and emigrated to Argentina in 1948, where he became an advisor to the air force. Despite his injuries he became a well-known mountain climber. Later he moved to Kufstein in Austria. He was a committed National Socialist who didn't change his views much after the war ended, which makes him a controversial figure to say the least, but it can't be denied that he was one of the most fascinating personalities of the war and that is why he appears here.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel was buried in the small town of Dornhausen, near Gunzenhausen in Mittelfranken. On the stone you can see his final rank, Oberst (colonel), his function, Commodore of Stukageschwader Immelmann, and a picture of his Knight's Cross.
For more pictures of his grave, click here.
Photograph: copyright by Gerhard Schnecke, 2002
Graves of World War II Personalities