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Posted on Feb 3, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

The Lost Photographs of the Star of Africa

By Danny Bouchard

Danny looked through the wallet and located the photographs of the German soldier. The photographs appeared to show a highly decorated Luftwaffe officer. Unfortunately, there was no inscription in the back, and so Danny began his investigations to attempt to identify who the German officer was and further, if this officer was still alive.

Danny contacted the German embassy in Canada and requested their assistance but he was instead directed to send the photographs to Germany for a possibility of identification. However this approach proved fruitless as Danny received the disappointing news that the German government was simply unable to assist him in his investigation. Despite this setback, Danny continued his investigation and instead turned to the Internet for assistance. And here, Armchair General appears on the scene. In March of 2004, Danny became a member of the Armchair General forums and posted a request for assistance in identifying the photo. And this would yield the final result.


Forum posting by user Danny Bouchard on 24th March 2004:

Here is a photo of a German Officer who was captured by my wife’s grandfather in Italy, 1944. I have tried to identify him so as to return the photo and the wallet it was in to the officer or to his family. I have tried with the German Govt and they can’t help me. The officer is from the Luftwaffe and bears an Iron Cross. If anyone can assist me in this project, it would be greatly appreciated. If you need more info, feel free to PM (private message) me.

After a few days, some discussion commenced concerning the decoration and uniform worn by the officer and his rank.

Forum posting by user Dann Falk on 30th March 2004:

Now we can get down to work. First of all, these are B&W photos which make it much harder. Much information was displayed by the color of piping around the uniform, in different locations. Unfortunately, we can not see these colors, so we will need to make an educated guess about some things.

1. Your officer looks to be a Lieutenant. You can see this from his collar insignia, in the third photo. A wreath and then two little bird figures.

2. Also on the third photo, on his lower left jacket is a Pilot’s Badge. This comes in two types, Pilot and Pilot/Observer. His looks to be the Pilot/Observer badge because of the light colored wings of the eagle.

3. The round badge, on the first and second photo, lower right jacket looks to be a German Cross. It comes in Gold and Silver. This was issued between the Iron Cross First Class and the Night’s Cross.

4. In all the photos, at his neck is what looks to be a an Iron Cross First Class. I can’t see any ribbon or other attachments that go along with the Iron Cross.

So, the conclusion is:

You man is a Luftwaffe Lieutenant, with a Pilot/Observer badge, the German Cross, and the Iron Cross First Class.

Hope this helps.


Forum posting by user Richard Story on 14th April 2004:

Facts from photos:

1) Wears RK mit Eichenlauben und schwarten (Knights Cross with Oakleaves and Swords)

2) Wears Deutches Kreuz in Gold

3) Rank appears to be from Oberstleutenant to Oberst. (Could be Hauptman or Oberleutenant but shoulderboards looked to be swirled pattern rather than straight for junior officers.)

4) Wears Pilot/Observers badge.

5) Has pointed rather than rounded ears.

6) Appears to have a narrow nose and hawk like face.

Facts supplied by the moderator:

1) Captured in 1944 (45?) by Canadians in Italy.


1) Lack of uniform details besides what is already noted.

2) Comparison photos I used where "formal" poses and not natural poses.

I found nobody that matched 100% of the facts, but I believe the officer to be: Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert.

I offer the following photograph for comparison:…20Reinert2.jpg

Another possibility might be JagdFuhrer Italy Gunther Freiherr von Maltzahn. I have no photo(s) of him to share.

Equally unfortunately; neither of these I can say with 100% certainty, but it is at least two names to start with.

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