Erhard Milch had commanded a fighter squadron in the First World War even though he was not a pilot himself. After the war he had several roles in the development of the German aircraft industry and was a founding director of Lufthansa, the national German airline. When the Nazi’s came to power he played a key role in the rapid expansion of the Luftwaffe and was a close associate of Goering.
He came under investigation by the Gestapo because his father, Anton Milch, was a Jew. However his mother swore an affidavit that her husband was not the father of any of her children, and Erhard was able to obtain a German Blood Certificate, required by Nazi race laws to continue in State related employment. He was assisted by Goering who famously declared “I decide who is a Jew”. Subsequent research has revealed that Milch’s mother was herself a Jew, making it very likely that Milch was himself wholly Jewish. In only slightly different circumstances the Nazi regime that he served would have been fatal to Milch.
Milch’s only operational role during the War was as General commanding Luftflotte 5 during the invasion of Norway. He proved himself a capable leader in a theatre where the Luftwaffe made a very significant contribution to the German success. Bombers, particularly dive bombers, provided crucial support to the German land forces as well as making it very hazardous for the British and French ships to operate close in shore or to land troops and munitions. The Luftwaffe also made use of troop transport planes to rapidly re-inforce their positions when needed – when the German forces intending to occupy Oslo were halted by the sinking of the Blucher, it was airborne troops that succeeded in seizing control of the capital.