20 November 2012

Former German Heavyweight Boxer Max Schmeling as a Fallschirmjäger

Image size: 1065 x 1600 pixel. 316 KB
Date: Thursday, 13 March 1941
Place: Wolfenbüttel, Niedersachsen, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

Former German heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling (36 years old at the time of this picture was taken) posed as a jumping Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) in the back door of transport aircraft Junkers Ju 52 "Tante". This famous person took part in Unternehmen "Merkur" (the assault on Crete) in 20 May 1941 while being a member of 4.Kompanie/1.Bataillon/Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3/7.Flieger-Division. He became sick and didn't see much combat at all. According to some accounts, Gefreiter (Corporal) Schmeling had dysentery before he jumped at Crete, informed his Bataillonskommandeur (Friedrich von der Heydte) the night before, but was still told to carry on. Schmeling arrived at Crete in a feverish state, with an injured head and stomach cramps. He was in no condition to be involved in operations there, only two days spent at the front, and then hospitalized in Athens for a month. Showing sympathies for the Allies, he will be ignored by the Nazi leaders. He was never sent again to the front. Quoted from Eric Queen's "Red Shines the Sun: A Pictorial History of the Fallschirm-Infanterie" page 100, tells the story of Louis Hedwig who served with Max: "..von der Heydte didn't want to take Max with us but was forced to by the top. As soon as we landed Max started losing it. He asked me, 'Leutnant am I allowed to shot?' even though I was just a corporal. He had sunstroke and the runs. Von der Heydte mentions in his book that Schmeling came to him before the left the airfields in Greece the night before. Schmeling told von der Heydte that he had dysentery. Von der Heydte told him to tighten up his smock and make the jump. This dysentery caused Schmeling to suffer from heat exhaustion quickly once on Crete, thus the pictures of him exist being supported by comrades walking to the aid station with a hankerchief on his head to help protect against the sun."

Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (NAC) 2-15159

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