The German Paratroopers or Fallschirmjäger were perceived as the elite infantry units of the German military and became known as the “green devils” by the Allied forces.
On a personal note, my grandfather who was a Marine was captured at Crete by the Fallschirmjäger. He didn’t enjoy that.
All images courtesy of the German Federal Archives / Bundesarchiv.
Two German paratroopers fighting among the ruins of the Monastery of Monte Cassino, Italy, 1944.Paratroopers of the 6. Fallschirmjäger Division march toward the disarmament area in Soest, Holland. Up to this point, the Division was still well equipped. Note several of the men carrying a Panzerfaust and the growing pile of German equipment lining the road – 10 May 1945
The 7 Fallschirmjäger Division in October 1942 conducted numerous missions behind enemy lines probe to recognize the amount of Soviet forces they would face, holding small actions against the Russian positions. These actions were successful because the Soviets decided not to attack in their industry, choosing other sectors weakly defended by German forces. Apparently the Fallschirmjäger would spend another harsh winter on the Eastern Front.
Battle of Crete in May 1941. German paratroopers sustained almost 7,000 casualties, meeting fierce resistance from the Cretan locals and as a result, Adolf Hitler forbade further large-scale airborne operations. During the occupation, German firing squads were routinely used to execute male civilians, who were randomly gathered at local villages, in reprisal for the death of German soldiers, such as at Kondomari.
Fallschirmjäger Hauptmann (Paratroop Captain) Walter Gericke (smoking) was originally a policeman who transferred to the Luftwaffe and became one of the first battalion commanders of the Parachute Division.He fought in the Battle of Crete (1941) and won the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.He also fought in Italy and by the war’s end was a lt colonel. Postwar, he was POW of the British.He returned to service in the 50s and commanded
1.Airborne Division 1962-65.He retired a major general.
Young German paratrooper with rifle, pistol, stick grenade and ammunition belt in Tunisia, near the Algerian border. Tunisia, 1943. Fallschirmjagers on a Kingtiger, Ardennes Dec 44 German paratroopers. France, Normandy 1944Erwin Seeger, a fallschirmjäger kriegsberichter (XI.Flieger-Korps), posing on the bomber seat of an Heinkel He-111. The plane is flying a transfer flight from Sicily to Tunisia, carrying Gotha Go-242 gliders. 1942.
German Paratroopers from Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 5/Division Hermann Göring during the march on the Italian front on 1 October 1943. Some were carrying MG 42. They were the few remnants from the Tunisian campaign, during their short stay in Italy before leaving for the eastern front in early November 1943.
German paratroopers firing a small mortar. France June 1944