Erwin Barends

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Erwin Barends
Erwin Barends (1880–1952).jpg
Birth name Hans Erwin Barends
Birth date 3 June 1880(1880-06-03)
Place of birth Hamburg, German Empire
Death date 29 March 1952 (aged 71)
Place of death Voikovo Gulag (Camp No. 48)
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War and service flag of Prussia (1895–1918).png Prussian Army
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Rank Generalmajor
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
House Order of Hohenzollern

Hans Erwin Barends (3 June 1880 – 29 March 1952) was a German officer of the Prussian Army, the Imperial German Army, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, finally Generalmajor in World War II. The flight pioneers who, before the outbreak of the First World War on 1 August 1914, had passed the pilot's test in accordance with the regulations of the German Aviation Association (Deutscher Luftfahrer-Verband) in Germany founded in 1902, were honorably called "Alte Adler" ("old eagles"). Barends belonged to this elite.


Hans Erwin Barends
Rumpler Eindecker, between 1910 and 1914 one of the best-known trainer aircraft of the Fliegertruppe
Oberleutnant Barends and Oberleutnant Albrecht (picture #2, May 1912)
Rangliste 1926 (Reichswehr)

After his Abitur and some studies at university, Erwin Barends began his compulsory military service as a one-year volunteer and decided to become a career officer. He had joined the 5. Badisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 113 and was transferred to the 5. Lothringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 144 on 16 February 1904, where he would eventually become adjutant of the I. Bataillon. 1907/08, he was commanded for one year to the 4th Company/Lehr-Infanterie-Bataillon in Potsdam and then returned to the 5. Lothringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 144 in Metz (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen), serving in the 8th, later in the 4th Company. After being promoted to Oberleutnant in August 1910, he returned to the 8th Company. He took part in the flight week Upper Rhine from 20 to 28 May 1911 as a passenger of pilot Leutnant (later Hauptmann) Walter Mackenthun (1882–1948), another Alter Adler (7 March 1911). On 1 October 1911, he was detached to the Inspection of Air and Motor Transport Affairs (Inspektion des Militär-Luft- und Kraftfahrwesens).


He begann with his lessons to become a pilot (Flugzeugführer) at the Johannisthal airfield. He trained on a Erich-Rumpler-Taube Eindecker as well as on the biplane Doppeltaube MZ 1 from Albatros and showed great talent. On 1 April 1912, he received his flight license (pilot's certificate) FAI-No. 175.[1] From 12 to 21 May 1912, he took part in the second German reliability flight on the Upper Rhine (II. Deutscher Zuverlässigkeitsflug am Oberrhein) and flew as navigator in the 3rd stage Saarbrücken–Mainz. His observer was Oberleutnant Karl Albrecht, who would later become Oberst. He had a water pipe failure during the flight. However, by climbing onto the front of the Rumpler Taube, he repaired the damage, severely burning his hands in the process. As a result of this incident, the planes lost their orientation and had to descend near Otterberg for orientation. The men received the I. Honorary Award of the Southwest Group. In the reconnaissance competition (Aufklärungswettbewerb), Barends and Albrecht made first place and received the honorary awards of His Highness Prince Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar (for pilot Barends) and His Serene Highness Prince Otto of Schaumburg-Lippe (for observer Albrecht).[2][3]

In October 1912, Barends was officially transferred to the new Fliegertruppe under it's commander Major (finally Generalmajor) Willy Richard Lehmann (1864–1948). On 5 July 1913 he was named Hauptmann without Patent and given command of the 3rd Company (stationed in Freiburg im Breisgau) of the Flieger-Bataillon Nr. 4 with headquarters in Straßburg. The 2nd Company in Metz was commanded by Wilhelm Haehnelt (1875–1946), who would later become General der Flieger.

1914 to 1942

  • Leader of Flying-Battalions and Flying-Group-Commander (02 Aug 1914-01 Oct 1919)
    • in WWI, he commanded the Feldflieger-Abteilung 20 (FFA 20) with the Etappen-Flugzeugpark 7/XIV. Armeekorps/7. Armee, later he was a Gruppenführer der Flieger or Grufl (Group leader of the aviators) with the staff of a German army. Group leaders of the aviators (Grufl) were given command of 6-8 detachments at focal points of the front in order to lead reconnaissance aircraft, fighters and artillery aviators as one. Instead of individual escort fighters of the flying Abteilungen, the protection squadrons (Schutzstaffeln), equipped with combat two-seaters, were deployed.
  • With the Staff of the Military-District-Command II (01 Oct 1919-01 Oct 1920)
  • Company-Chief in the 6th Infantry-Regiment (01 Oct 1920-01 Oct 1923)
  • Transferred into the 14th Mounted-Regiment (01 Oct 1923-01 Feb 1926)
  • Commander of the II. Battalion of the 4th Infantry-Regiment (01 Feb 1926-01 Nov 1929)
  • With the Regiments-Staff of the 4th Infantry-Regiment (01 Nov 1929-28 Feb 1932)
  • Retired from Army Service (28 Feb 1932)
  • Reactivated as a L-Angestellte (01 Sep 1933)
  • Landesschutzoffizier (01 Oct 1933)
  • Oberst with Military-Replacement-Inspection Schwerin (01 Oct 1933-01 Oct 1936)
  • Commander of Military-District-Command Neu-Strelitz (01 Oct 1936-26 Aug 1939)
  • Commander of the 632nd Infantry-Regiment/557. Infanterie-Division (26 Aug 1939-15 Aug 1940)
  • Commander of Military-District-Command Neu-Strelitz (15 Aug 1940-15 Nov 1940)
  • Commander of the 570th Infantry-Regiment (15 Nov 1940-31 Oct 1942)
    • Active-Officer (01 Jun 1941)
  • Retired from Army-service (31 Oct 1942)


Although he had retired in 1942, Generalmajor Barends was abducted by the NKVD after the end of the war and carried off to the east. After years of torture, hunger, mistreatment and sickness, he finally died on 29 March 1952 and was buried at the German Military Cemetery in Chernzy (Deutsche Kriegsbgräberstätte in Tschernzy).[4]


  • One-year volunteer (Einjährig-Freiwilliger) on 1 April 1901
  • Fähnrich (Officer Cadet) on 22 April 1902
  • Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant) on 18 August 1902 with Patent from 19 August 1901
  • Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant) 18 August 1910
  • Hauptmann (Captain) without Patent on 5 July 1913
    • Patent as Hauptmann on 19 August 1914
  • Major on 1 July 1923
  • Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) on 1 April 1929
  • Oberst (Colonel) on 1 February 1932
    • Oberst a. D. and L-Angestellter on 1 August 1933
    • Oberst and L-Offizier on 1 October 1933
    • Oberst (E) on 5 March 1935
  • Generalmajor (active) on 1 June 1941

Awards and decorations (military)

Teilnehmermedaille zum 2. Deutschen Zuverlässigkeitsflug am Oberrhein 1912.jpg