Military & Spies

Wilhelm Frankl - Jewish Fighter Pilot, WW I, German Luftwaffe

World War I German fighter pilot, war hero

Born: December 20, 1893 - Hamburg, Germany
Died: April 8, 1917 - Fields of France

Wilhelm Frankl - German Luftwaffe
Wilhelm Frankl - German Luftwaffe
Wilhelm Frankl was one of several Jewish fighter pilots who fought in the German Luftwaffe during World War I, although he was the most famous of the bunch. During his career he amassed an impressive 20 victories.

Frankl's most famous exploit involved shooting down four enemy aircrafts in one day, April 6, 1917. The first was shot down at 2:30 a.m., while the following three took place during that same day. At the time aircrafts were in their infancy and their militaristic use was even newer, so night victories were exceedingly difficult and unique.

As the result of his accomplishments he was awarded Germany's Pour le Mérite(nicknamed the "Blue Max",) which is comparable to the American Medal of Honor, and he became a national hero in Germany.

He died on April 8, 1917, when his airplane, an Albatros D.III, broke apart while flying over France near Vitry-Sailly. This was just two days after his most lethal day.

Interesting Facts
  • Frankl went to Germany's famous aviation center at Johannisthal and took flying lessons from Germany's first female pilot, Melly Beese.
  • A West German Luftwaffe unit was named after him in 1973.
Further Reading
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Meyer, Daniel. "Wilhelm Frankl - Jewish Fighter Pilot, WW I, German Luftwaffe." J-Grit: The Internet Index of Tough Jews.