Name, Rank and Serial Number Please!

Remember all those bad war movies that came from the BBC and all the german character’s had an english accent?  Or in more modern movies when they start speaking in a foriegn language and than transition to english, to take a nod at the actual language spoken?  I suppose Merryl Streep was the star of practiced accents that won her a few awards in films like “Sophie’s Choice”.  Jack Hunter was drawn to the german language early in life as a huge aviation fan who wanted to read Baron von Richthofen’s autobiography.  His knowledge of the german language shaped his life when he entered into military service during World War 2 and became involved in secret missions in Germany.

When he wrote “The Blue Max” he filled the book with german language particularly when attempting to describe military leadership and aviation terminology.  The german words stand out because they are always in italics.  I hope eventually to include these word and their definitions in this blog as a glossary so I can use them as a reference when I start writing the script for the graphic novel.  What follows is fast look at some of the key military terms that show up in the book with what definitions  I could muster from from the internet.

Those with more knowledge than me feel free to post corrections or sources so I can make these more accurate!

German FlagGerman Air Force Structure

Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte   “German Air Force” of World War 1

 Die Fliegertruppen  The air arm of the  German Army(of which it remained an integral part) during  World War 1 (1914–1918). Often referred to as the “Imperial German Air Service”

Jagdstaffeln (often abbreviated to Jastas) Specialized fighter squadrons in the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I.

 Jagdgeschwader  A fighter unit of the German Luftstreitkräfte, comprising of multiple Jastas or ‘fighter squadrons‘.  Jagdgeschwader 1 or JG1 was formed as combination of Jastas 4610 and 11 formed on 24 June 1917, with Manfred von Richthofen as commanding officer, by combining . JG 1 became known as “The Flying Circus”.

Jadggruppe Likely an even larger combination of Jastas

Leadership Terms used in “The Blue Max”

 Kofl…”The Kommandeur brought us greetings from the Kofl himself”…Headquarters?

 Kommandeur General der Luftstreitkräfte  Commanding General of the Air Service

 Kogenluft.…”the cadaverous major from Kogenluft”  I am guessing that this is a slang abbreviation of Kommandeur General der Luftstreitkräfte

 Kommandeur der flieger….”We completed our business with the Kommandeur der flieger in short order”..Commander of the Flyers

 Rittmeister...as in “Rittmeister Von Richtofen”.  In German language literally Ride master or Cavalry master was the military rank of a commissioned cavalry officer in charge of a squadron (a troop in the United States), the equivalent of O3 or Captain, in the armies of German-speaking, Austro-Hungarian and some other states

Jastafuhrer  Leader of a German Squadron, Stachel referred to Heidemann this way when he want to show high respect, instead of Hauptmann

Kettenfuhrer A Kette is a group of planes, like a flight, so I assume this is the “flight leader”

Kanone…as in  “ Heidemann, a full fledge Kanone with forty victories..”  Kanone can be translated from German as “cannon.”  A looser translation as used by the Kaiser’s airmen meant “big gun” or “big shot” reserved for the ace airman.

List of Characters and their Rank

General Wurfl

Major Klingel …a Major assigned to publicity for Kogenluft

Hauptmann Otto Heidemann…the Captain of the Squadron

Oberleutnant Karl-Heinz Kettering…Adjutant…Administrative Assistant to the Captain

Leutnant Bruno Stachel.…A pilot in the squad

Unteroffizier Gerhardt Rupp…”Uffz”…like a supply sargent

Leutnant Ziegal, Mechanic

4 thoughts on “Name, Rank and Serial Number Please!

  1. Hey Geez,
    Looking good!! A couple of tweaks maybe?
    geschwader = wing, and a German Army joke.
    What sound does a pig make when he bumps into a wall? Uffz!!
    An Unteroffizier is the rank below Sgt, yet may be called upon to fill a Sgt’s duties. An “almost Sgt”. Oberleutnant is a 1st Lt and a Leutnant is a 2nd Lt.
    Leutnant Ziegal is probably the Maintenance Officer, not a mechanic. An Adjutant is responsible for a unit’s administration and outgoing correspondence on behalf of the C.O. He is also the “whip” or disciplinarian for the Junior Officers (Hptmann and less).

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