The Lichtenrade Bohnstedt Line:
Colonel Eberhard Bohnstedt
by Thomas Allen Bohnstedt, California USA
(the text of this page is my intellectual property. Please do not copy and repost without my written permission)
Eberhard Bohnstedt as a young German Army officer, probably a lieutenant (Leutnant) or Captain (Hauptmann)
The First World War
Eberhard Bohnstedt was in some ways is a more colorful character as a military officer than General Wilhelm Bohnstedt's, even though his ranking never reached as high as Wilhelm's. Eberhard Bohnstedt seems to have a led a distinguished, although checkered career as a military man.
Tracking Eberhard's military career has been an interesting exercise. Whereas some military men have well documented careers, but don't seem to do anything extraordinary that might generate notoriety, Eberhard's officially documented military career record seems to have some gaps. And yet, periodically he seems to "show up on the radar" for a period of time by being mentioned in a book or publication, disappear from the radar screen, and then re-appear again.
Early German Aces of World War I, by Greg VanWyngarden, describes Eberhard Bohnstedt as the commanding officer of FFA 32
Eberhard Julius Georg Waldemar Bohnstedt, was born in 1886 in Kassel, Germany, and was a descendant of Ferdinand Wilhelm Adolf Bohnstedt. While serving as a soldier in the12th Grenadier Regiment in 1904 he was accepted as an officer candidate. The following year he was commissioned as a Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant), and he remained with the 12th Grenadier Regiment until October 1912.
Eberhard was then detached to the War Academy until sometime in 1914. In August of that year the First World War broke out in Europe, and four months later Eberhard was promoted to Hauptmann (Captain).
The records one might find on the world wide web for Eberhard during the war years do not always say much about his career. One on-line source only says that he was "In different General-Staff positions, finally in the General-Staff of the 242nd Infantry-Division". This is puzzling because it seems clear from other sources that Hauptmann Eberhard Bohnstedt was involved in military aviation.
Wolfgang Bohnstedt was convinced from his own meticulous research that the Hauptmann Eberhard Bohnstedt described in various books and documents as the commanding officer of flying squadrons is the same Eberhard Bohnstedt who began his officer's career in the 12th Grenadier Regiment. An unverified on-line source I recently discovered seems to back this up, and while I also agree, I am not sure what records were used to substantiate this.
One source indicated that Eberhard applied to be a flyer and was assigned as an observer in FFA ("Feldflieger Abteilung", or Field Flying Squadron) 23 in 1914. Eberhard must have shown some aptitude in aviation and leadership because according to Early German Aces of World War I, by Greg VanWyngarden, Hauptmann (Captain) Bohnstedt was already commanding another squadron, FFA 32 late that same year;
Also on the 2. Armee front, the fighter compliment of FFA 32 (known as KeK in Bertincourt) had been increased to four machines by 7 February . These were Fokker E IIIs 84/15 (Gustav Leffers) and 400/15 (Ltn Burkhard Lehmann), Pfalz E I 220/15 (Ltn Oskar Rouselle) and a new twin-gun Fokker E IV 440/15 (Ltn Franz Diemer). The CO of FFA 32, Hptm Eberhard Bohnstedt, apparently decreed that the recently arrived Diemer would keep his E IV while the unit's 'star', Leffers, had to soldier on with his old 84/15.
According to The Fighters; The Men and Machines of the First Air War, written by Thomas Funderburk in 1965, Eberhard was later commanding FFA 31. The Fighters places FFA 31 at Slonim in Russian Poland up to and through 1917. Some excerpts from The Fighters relate some anecdotal stories about Eberhard's early military service as a squadron commander. The first story tells of one of Bohnstedt's airmen, Theobald von Zastrow, and a bombing mission on the eastern front.
One day at the end of August the C.O., Hauptmann [captain] Bohnstedt called Theobald to his office and informed him that he was to fly a bombing mission against the railroad marshaling yard at Shilitschi. Long columns of freight cars were stacked up there and if the switches could be destroyed, vast quantities of materiel would be bottled up.
Immediately after dropping his bombs Theobald photographed the actual bomb impacts for later use in bomb damage assessment, and he and Röchling returned to their airfield.
On landing at the field near Slonim, Theobald turned the camera and plates over to the sergeant in charge of the processing laboratory and awaited results in the Kasino [officer's club or tavern], washing down a roll with a small glass of vermouth. The lab sergeant ran in excitedly and said, "Herr Leutnant, I think you really hit something here", and ran out. Theobald raised his eyebrows and shrugged. It wasn't long before he was advised that Hauptmann Bohnstedt wanted to see him. He reported to the C.O.'s office and took his cue from the Hauptmann himself, who was regarding him with half-concealed amusement. "I thought that something there looked funny, Herr Hauptmann, so I decided to hit it instead." Theobald was shooting a transparent line and he knew the C.O. knew it. Bohnstedt pushed a photograph across his desk. Theobald picked up the print and looked at it, but for several seconds had no idea what he was looking at. Then slowly it became clear. He spotted the bomb bursts, gray cotton puffs a mile from the switchyard...Theobald's lucky miss had blown up an ammunition dump.
1. The Fighters, The Men and Machines of the First Air War by Thomas Funderburk, 1965
2. This photo was included in The Fighters, and the author's caption identifies the two men on the reader's left as Röchling and on Röchling's left; Theobald von Zastrow.
The Fighters described an unfortunate incident in which the carburetor on his airplane froze up, Theobald and his observer, Röchling, crash landed and were taken prisoner. Röchling was soon released in a prisoner exchange, but Theobald spent some time in a prisoner of war camp near Moscow. During the Russian Revolution in 1917 Theobald escaped and returned to his old unit to the amazement of his comrades. He was taken off the front lines for a while, and placed in a job as an instructor.
In the spring of 1918 Fl. Abt 31 [FFA 31] was transferred to the Western Front, being based at an aerodrome at Puxieux in the St.-Mihiel salient, a few miles west of Metz. Hauptmann Bohnstedt was desperate for experienced men, for the game on the Western Front was immeasurably rougher than it had ever been on the Eastern, and he asked Theobald if he wanted to volunteer to return to the squadron. Bored with his teaching job, Theobald accepted the invitation and reported to Puxieux at the beginning of August.
In October Theobald was sent to F.E.A. 4 at Posen as a gunnery instructor. The transfer was Hauptmann [captain] Bohnstedt's gift to an old comrade, one that Theobald always felt saved his life, for things were bad on the Western Front and most German aviators believed it was only a matter of hours. Every mission was regarded as the one from which there would be no return.
The Path to Blitzkrieg
According to various on-line sources, Eberhard Bohnstedt continued serving in the Army in various staff positions and minor command positions:
General Staff of the 3rd Division 1920-1923
General staff of the 2nd Cavalry Division 1923-1924
Company chief in the 12th infantry regiment 1924-1925
Promoted to Major in 1925
Army Training department in the Reichs Defense Ministry in 1925
3rd Division general staff in 1925-1929
Commander of II Battalion of the 6th Infantry Regiment 1930-1932
Promoted to Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) in 1930
Promoted to Oberst (Colonel) in October 1932
A certain "Major Bohnstedt" appears in The Path to The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the German Army, 1920-1939, by Robert Michael Citino, which discusses the origins and development of the new German military doctrine of mobile warfare, a dramatic departure of the entrenched warfare of the First World War. This new doctrine would continue to be refined to become Blitzkrieg, or "Lightning War" as it was called during the Second World War.
The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the German Army, 1920-1939, by Robert Michael Citino
The Path to Blitzkrieg repeatedly refers to a staff officer, Major Bohnstedt, who participated in the development of training exercises and and the development of these new tactics for the German Army as it prepared for the next war. In one excerpt:
Conger [one of the senior planning and training officers] also sent back other instructional exercises for the 3rd Division staff. One was a map problem, written by staff officer Major Bohnstedt. Taking part in the exercise and the subsequent critique were were the chief of staff, Col. Kurt von Hammerstein, and General Hasse.
The above segment seems to deal mainly with the 3rd Division, but in another segment the discussion of the development of land warfare tactics and strategy seems broader, dealing with I Corps, II Corps, and the 15th and 25th Divisions;
Discussion on this point was lively among the twelve officers taking part in the exercise. Some recommended sending it [the 16th Cavalry Brigade] across the border for raiding purposes; others sent it to assist II Corps to the west, now bearing the brunt of the red attack. Major Bohnstedt did not favor any of these courses of action. In the first place, "a few squadrons of cavalry could not accomplish any appreciable good attempting a raid behind the enemy's front."
Bohnstedt instead pointed out the dire straits in which the border guard unit found itself [during the theoretical exercise]. The cavalry brigade alone might not be strong enough to stop the red assault force here, but with reinforcements from the corps troops (the motorized machine gun battalion, for example), it just might do the trick.
The text goes on to say
Bohnstedt took this opportunity to discourse on the role of the cavalry. "It is a mistake" he said "to think of a modern cavalryman in terms of the warfare of the last century. The cavalryman is a mounted rifleman, nothing more."
My first reaction to finding these excerpts was that "Major Bohnstedt" could have been any one of five Bohnstedt men from the Prussian Bohnstedt branch, most from the Buchwäldchen Line. However, upon closer analysis I finally came to the conclusion that the person most likely to have been "Major Bohnstedt" in this book was Eberhard Bohnstedt. The first excerpt refers to the 3rd Division, of which Eberhard was a member of the general staff during 1920-1923.
But the most crucial piece of evidence identifying Eberhard Bohnstedt as "Major Bohnstedt" is Colonel Kurt von Hammerstein, Chief of Staff. von Hammerstein will appear again, linked with the Bohnstedt name.
The New Luftwaffe
The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe; The Life of Field Marshal Erhard Milch (1973) by David Irving gives detailed insight into the origins of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force leading up to World War II and throughout the course of the war, as seen through the eyes of Erhard Milch, the man Irving believes to be primarily responsible for the building of the largest and most sophisticated Air Force in the world up to that time. The book describes the engineering and manufacturing efforts of building the Luftwaffe, and it's applications in combat during the war.
Just as important it gives us insight into the change in thinking among the German military communities between World War I and World War II. After World War I German nationalistic thinking had moved far beyond the standard ideas of national defense and into the realm of conquest, first throughout Europe, and then into a global scale.
Portions of The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe describe a certain Colonel Bohnstedt who had been placed in charge of the Air Operations staff within the Defense Ministry. At this point in time Germany had not yet begun openly re-arming after the First World War. The Air Operations Staff (also known as the Air Defense Office) was the very first seed of the Luftwaffe, the new German Air Force of the Third Reich.
The index in the book refers to a "Colonel Karl Bohnstedt". However, I believe this to be a mistake. The actual portions of text which describe Colonel Bohnstedt only refer to him as "Bohnstedt", and "Colonel Bohnstedt", but never reference his first name at all, leading me to suspect that the inclusion of Bohnstedt's first name as "Karl" in the index was a publishing error.
Nor is this Colonel Bohnstedt's first name mentioned in German Air Force General Staff, by By Andreas Nielsen, 1968:
With the creation of the Air Defense Office as a separate entity within the Reichs Ministry of Defense, both the Army and Navy, of course, had to give up all hope of ever maintaining air forces of their own. Colonel Bohnstedt became Chief of the Air Defense Office, and Commander (Navy) Wenninger his chief of staff.
I believe that this Colonel Bohnstedt was in fact the same Eberhard Bohnstedt who was mentioned in Greg VanWyngarden's Early German Aces, Thomas Funderburk's The Fighters, and Robert Citino's The Path to Blitzkrieg. Many descriptions of Colonel Bohnstedt in The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe match the known life data we have for Eberhard Bohnstedt, very closely in some cases, and exactly in others.
The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe; the Life of Field Marshal Erhard Milch, by David Irving, 1973, mentions Eberhard Bohnstedt
Consider the following: Information we have for Eberhard Bohnstedt states that he was promoted to Oberst (Colonel) in 1932. The Bohnstedt mentioned in Luftwaffe was a Colonel. Data for Eberhard Bohnstedt indicates that he was named Chief of Air Defense in RWM [Reichswehrministerium, or "National Defense Ministry"] in November 1934. Another source says that he was Chief of the Air-Defense-Office in the Reichs-Defense-Ministry from 1932-1934. The Colonel Bohnstedt described in Luftwaffe was placed in charge of the Air Operations Staff in 1933. Although there seems to be some discrepancy with the dates, they are still close to each other.
Data for Eberhard Bohnstedt indicates that he retired from Army Service in June 1935. Add to the mix that Eberhard Bohnstedt had been a commanding officer of a squadron in the Flying Service, and we can see how this may have qualified him, in the minds of some, to be placed in charge of the Air Operations Staff.
However, author David Irving describes a Colonel Bohnstedt who was not perceived of in exceptional terms by all of his colleagues. In page 36 of The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe we learn that
On 10 May Blomberg directed that the air operations staff recently set up in his Defense Ministry under Colonel Bohnstedt - a monocled army officer of the old guard - should be transferred to the Air Ministry upon it's formal activation on 15 May. This order is rightly described as the 'birth certificate' of the Luftwaffe. Milch left Bohnstedt to his own devices. Blomberg's chief of staff, Reichenau, later told him [Blomberg] that in appointing Bohnstedt, the then Chief of the Army Command General Kurt von Hammerstein had sardonically pronounced him [Bohnstedt] "the stupidest clot I could find in my General Staff". This would ensure that nothing would ever come of the Luftwaffe.
Really? The "stupidest clot I could find in my General Staff"? I don't know if Eberhard Bohnstedt ever wore a monocle, or if this is just colorful language. But If we take a look at earlier moments in Bohnstedt's career we may find that this comment is unwarranted and perplexing. In fact, all we need do is go back a short time to the war planning discussions described in Path to Blitzkrieg. Here we find Bohnstedt (then a Major) involved in developing the tactics and exercises for modern mobile warfare, and Kurt von Hammerstein (then a Colonel) involved in the follow-up critique.
Upon realizing the connection between the Major Bohnstedt in Path to Blitzkrieg and Colonel Bohnstedt in Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe, I began to wonder if there weren't political or philosophical reasons for von Hammerstein's harsh analysis of Colonel Bohnstedt.
When we look at the last line of the excerpt above: "This would ensure that nothing would ever come of the Luftwaffe...", it appears that certain elements within the German General Staff, including von Hammerstein, were not happy about an expansion of the new German Air Force, and perhaps they thought that by placing Colonel Bohnstedt in the position of directing the Air Defense Office nothing would come of the Luftwaffe. But again, why Bohnstedt? It does seem from Path to Blitzkrieg that Bohnstedt was a visionary thinker. The only thing I can guess from all of this is that perhaps the old guard within the Army thought that the very fact that Bohnstedt had some vision that was different from theirs discredited him as being capable, which meant that he would therefore allow the new Luftwaffe to flounder (thus suiting their purposes). Either that, or Hammerstein truly thought Bohnstedt was mediocre in his leadership abilities.
Whatever the reason, Bohnstedt was soon replaced as the Chief of the Air Defense Office by Erhard Milch. According to Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe:
Colonel Bohnstedt eventually approached Milch with his own plans for the future Luftwaffe. He envisaged 144 fighters, twelve bombers and some reconnaissance aircraft, some two hundred aircraft in all. Milch told him [Bohnstedt] that he was planning to have six hundred aircraft for his front line by 1935, predominately bombers; Bohnstedt's jaw sagged and he had to sit down. Eventually he gasped, "but this is terrible! Poor Germany!" Bohnstedt was retired in August and a few days later a new organization came into effect which was to remain substantially the same for the next four years. Soon Milch was considering a programme far in excess of the thousand-aircraft programme he had been thinking of in May, increasing the aircraft industry by twenty or thirty times to that end.
This excerpt also shows a developing split in thinking between the 'Old Guard' as Irving puts it, and the new order in Nazi Germany. At the height of Nazi German power the Luftwaffe and other elements of German air power numbered in many thousands of aircraft, not Bohnstedt's 200 airplanes. Nazi Germany logically saw aircraft as a powerful offensive weapon for which the support of ground troops and tactical strikes were only part of the functions of air power.
In Path to Blitzkrieg we see a Major Bohnstedt who seems to have some vision for the future of warfighting, but in Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe we see a Colonel Bohnstedt whose vision does not go far enough, and who is replaced by Erhard Milch, a man who sees a vastly greater role for air power than does Bohnstedt. Perhaps Bohnstedt was caught between the "old guard" on one side who had little or no vision, and the "new guard" on the other side whose vision far exceeded his own.
According to one on-line source Eberhard Bohnstedt was retired from formal army service in June of 1935. Luftwaffe states that Colonel Bohnstedt was retired in August of 1935, almost an exact match except for a discrepancy of just two months, and one of these, either the online source, or the date mentioned in Luftwaffe, may be in error.
On-line sources tell us that shortly after Eberhard Bohnstedt's retirement from Army service in 1935 he was given the honorary rank of Major General [Charakter als Generalmajor]. So where did retired army Colonel Eberhard Bohnstedt hold this honorary rank of Major General? For the answer we go across the Atlantic Ocean, to El Salvador where Eberhard Bohnstedt again appears on the radar screen.
Special cable to the New York Times, April 25, 1938
ARMY SHIFTS IN SALVADOR
The Minister of War has appointed General Eberhardt Bohnstedt to be director of El Salvador's military academy and has transferred a number of high officers serving in the capital to provincial regiments.
To this day there is a portrait hanging on one of the walls inside El Salvador's military academy in San Salvador. A copy or photograph of the portrait was acquired by Mitchel Bohnstedt, who was himself an officer of the rank of Major in the United States Army, and was at one time stationed in El Salvador as an assistant military attaché to the U.S. embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador. The caption under the portrait says
GRAL. EBERHARD BOHNSTED
DIRECTOR 1938 - 1939
Being so far removed in time from the Second World War, younger generations might wonder what a German military officer was doing in El Salvador in the 1930's. But a little research reveals that for some time before beginning open war by invading Poland, Germany was also engaged in clandestine wars in various parts of the world, including Latin America. This clandestine war was a war of propaganda and influence, the aim being to turn Latin American countries against the United States, with the ultimate goal of isolating, and finally conquering America. The Soviet Union pursued similar policies in Latin America during the Cold War.
1. Eberhard Julius Georg Waldemar Bohnstedt, circa 1938 - 1939, from the Salvadoran Military Academy. The last name under the portrait (appearing on the full size image) is incorrectly spelled "Bohnsted" (without the "t" at the end).
2. Major Mitchel Bohnstedt, U.S. Army, in El Salvador
3. This picture, found in Wikipedia, gives the following caption: "Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [right], addresses Salvadoran Chief of Defense Gen. Eduardo Mendoza [center] and U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Ambassador [left]". The photograph of Eberhard Bohnstedt's portrait was sent to Mitchel Bohnstedt by Eduardo Mendoza, a young Salvadoran Army officer who was attending paratrooper jump training at Fort Benning Georgia about the same time that Mitchel Bohnstedt was. Although Mendoza was identified by Wikipedia in this photo as the Salvadoran Chief of Defense, some sources identify him as the "Chief of Staff".
An excerpt from The Plot Against the Peace by Michael Sayers and Albert Kahn, 1945, reveals that
Immediately after the First World War, the German secret infiltration of the Latin American countries by economic, political, and military agents went into high gear in preparation for the Second World War. Captain Ernst Roehm, organizer of the Nazi Storm Troops, showed up in Bolivia in 1925 as "special advisor" to the Bolivian Army. The German aviation officer Fritz Hammer went to Colombia, where he later organized Nazi espionage and economic infiltration under cover of Nazi aviation concerns. General Bohnstedt became head of the military academy in El Salvador and official instructor to the Salvadorean Army. General Reinecke, General Kundt, and many other officer-agents of the German General Staff became active in Chile, Paraguay, and Peru, where they sought to influence the officers' corps and spread hatred of the United States.
According to research by Wolfgang Bohnstedt, the General Bohnstedt who is referred to here was in fact Eberhard Bohnstedt, who had retired (or was forcibly retired) with the rank of Colonel in the German military, but held an honorary rank of General (Charakter als Generalmajor) in the Salvadoran Army during his directorship of the academy in that country. This idea is quite obviously supported by the fact that the name under the portrait in the Salvadoran military academy says Eberhard Bohnsted.
1. The Plot Against the Peace, by Michael Sayers, and Albert E. Kahn, 1945
2. The Politics of Antipolitics: The Military in Latin America, by Brian Loveman, Thomas M. Davies, 1997
In fact, a more recent work by Brian Loveman and Thomas M. Davies; The Politics of Antipolitics: The Military in Latin America (1997 edition) does identify Eberhard Bohnstedt with his correct German Army rank:
Significant too was the appointment of General Eberhardt [author's spelling] Bohnstedt as director of the Escuela Militar [Military School] in 1938. With the rank of Colonel in the German army, Bohnstedt replaced Colonel Ernesto Bará, of French descent and a veteran of French campaigns in WW I.
But Colonel Eberhard Bohnstedt's directorship of the academy was not to last. By 1941 the Salvadoran government was moving to replace their German advisors, and Eberhard had already been replaced two years earlier.
New York Times, April 6, 1941
El Salvador Names US Aide
El Salvador's last technical Military adviser was General Eberhard Bohnstedt of the German Army but his contract ended over a year ago.
Why were Eberhard Bohnstedt and other German advisors asked to leave the country? Martin Bohnstedt once speculated that the U.S. government pressured the government of El Salvador to send him home. Germany had friendly relations with several Latin American countries for many years. But It may be that as the possibility of open war between the U.S. and Germany grew closer America demanded that Eberhard be expelled, and El Salvador, being geographically closer to the U.S., decided on caution and sent him back to Germany.
Historians seem to support Martin's notion about why Eberhard was expelled. According to Philip J. Williams and Knut Walter in Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy:
...the outbreak of war in Europe increased United States concern about military preparedness in El Salvador, as well as the influence of Italian and German diplomats and m,ilitary officers in the Salvadoran armed forces. Hernández Martinez had named a German general, Eberhardt [author's spelling] Bohnstedt, to head the military school in 1938. Under pressure from Washington, Hernández Martinez requested his resignation just two years later. In 1941 a U.S. colonel became director of the academy...
1. Inside Latin America, by John Gunther, 1941
2. Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy, By Philip J. Williams and Knut Walter, 1997
Inside Latin America, by John Gunther, gives some insight into the clandestine operations by German agents and military personnel in Latin America, and in El Salvador in particular:
In June 1941, the Salvadorans shut down a secret Nazi radio station that was keeping touch with German agents throughout Central America. Later it was reported that Germans were flooding the country with counterfeit coins. In late summer it became known that forty-three United States firms were represented in the country by Axis agents; this will be changed. An American officer is shortly to replace a German general who was in command of the local military school. The German, Colonel von Bohnstadt (he held the rank of general in the Salvadoran army), was expelled from the country.
Although the author misspelled Eberhard Bohnstedt's name as von Bohnstadt, there is no doubt that these two men are one and the same. As for Eberhard Bohnstedt's replacement, it was an army officer from Chile, not the U.S., who replaced Bohnstedt in 1939. Colonel Zorobabel Galeno took over for the period 1939-1940. In 1940 Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Christian, U.S. Army was put in charge of the academy until 1943, during which year he was replaced. From that time American Army officers directed the Salvadoran military academy until 1953 when a Salvadoran was put in charge.
Authors Loveman and Davies state in The Politics of Antipolitics: The Military in Latin America that
By fall 1940 the nation [El Salvador] was clearly suffering from the high price of Axis [Germany, Italy, Japan] sympathy. Unreliable trade with Italy and Germany produced severe shortages. Sharply declining exports to the Axis nations and a corresponding decrease in production caused the unemployment of 20 percent of the work force. In the face of growing hostility at home and pressure from abroad, Hernandez Martinez [the president] reversed his policy by publicly denouncing European totalitarianism and praising the Allied cause in October 1940.
Apparently, Martinez was already sensing his change of fortunes as early as 1939 when he evicted Eberhard Bohnstedt from the country.
Wolfgang found some interesting documentation which reveals something of Eberhard's personality. It seems that Eberhard's wife, Kate, had tried, with little success, to involve him in social activities to distract his attention away from what appeared to be his only real interests in life; women and war.
Grave of Eberhard Bohnstedt, Südfriedhof (South Cemetery), Wiesbaden, Germany. Photo is provided courtesy of Mr. Rob Hopmans, Netherlands, www.ww2gravestone.com
It is unclear what Eberhard Bohnstedt did with the rest of his life, particularly during the war. That he does not appear to have held any position of note within the Nazi Government during the Second World War may have enabled him to avoid prosecution as a war criminal after war's end. He died in 1957 in Wiesbaden at the age of 71, and is buried in Südfriedhof (South Cemetery), at Wiesbaden, Germany, with his wife, Katharina, who died the following year at the age of 64.
Sorting Things Out
For those readers who might be a little uncertain as to how I concluded that the Bohnstedt mentioned in all of these books is the same person, I thought it might be helpful to review the links between Hauptmann (Captain) Bohnstedt of The Fighters and Early German Aces, Major Bohnstedt of Path to Blitzkrieg, Colonel Bohnstedt of Luftwaffe and German Air Force General Staff, and "General" (or Colonel) Bohnstedt of Plot Against the Peace, The Politics of Antipolitics and Inside Latin America.
1. The links between Major Bohnstedt of Blitzkrieg and Colonel Bohnstedt of Luftwaffe are easy to see. They are Kurt von Hammerstein, and the German General Staff.
2. The link between Hauptmann (Captain) Bohnstedt of The Fighters and Hauptmann (Captain) Eberhard Bohnstedt of Early German Aces hardly needs an explanation; two officers with the rank of captain named Bohnstedt commanding fighter squadrons. With a name like Bohnstedt what are the odds that they are two different people?
3. It is even more obvious that the Bohnstedt mentioned in Plot Against the Peace, Inside Latin America, Militarization and Demilitarization, and The Politics of Antipolitics (all four books discuss El Salvador in the late 1930's), are the same person.
4. We can then link Bohnstedt in El Salvador to the "Inter-war" Bohnstedt (1920's-1930's) as follows: (a) Colonel Bohnstedt of Luftwaffe was retired from formal army service in 1935, and appeared in El Salvador shortly after. Some sources state that Eberhard Bohnstedt was an instructor at the academy from 1936 to 1938, after which time he became the director. This places him in El Salvador immediately after his formal retirement from the German Army. If the German government were to place military men in Latin American countries it would make more sense to have them "formally" retired from German Army service. Eberhard Bohnstedt filled that need quite nicely with his official departure from the Army. (b) Plot Against the Peace refers to Bohnstedt in the same instance as ' General Reinecke, General Kundt, and many other officer-agents of the German General Staff...' The implication here is that these men, including Bohnstedt, were operating under the direction of the German General Staff, something which Major/Colonel Bohnstedt had been an integral part of a short time earlier.
5. We can link Eberhard Bohnstedt in El Salvador (Plot Against the Peace, Inside Latin America, Militarization and Demilitarization and Politics of Antipolitics) to Eberhard Bohnstedt of the First World War (Aces) by his first name. Although it is within the realm of possibility that there were two Eberhard Bohnstedts of the same age in the officer corps in the German Army, with the same promotion record, it is very unlikely.
6. The final link, the link between Eberhard Bohnstedt of the First World War (Fighters, and Aces) and the "Inter-War" years (Blitzkrieg and Luftwaffe) is a circumstantial one, and a slim one: Eberhard Bohnstedt's experience as a flying squadron commander may have been used to justify his placement as the Chief of the Air Defense Office. This doesn't prove anything, but does add to the preponderance of information linking all of these figures together into one person. Also, the promotion record of the First World War Bohnstedt does seem to match that of Major Bohnstedt and Colonel Bohnstedt of the inter-war years.
There was also some confusion among members of the Bohnstadt family regarding the family connection of Eberhard Bohnstedt. John Gunther's Inside Latin America gives Bohnstedt's last name as Colonel von Bohnstadt. This is certainly a mistake for the following reasons:
(a) We know that aside from the mistake of omitting the "T", the name under the picture in the Salvadoran Military academy is spelled Bohnsted (with an "e", not Bohnstadt (with an "a")
(b) Plot Against the Peace, which mentions the head of the military academy and instructor to the Salvadorean Army spells his name as "Bohnstedt" with an "E". Likewise, The Politics of Antipolitics also spells the last name of Eberhardt (Eberhard) Bohnstedt's, the director of the Escuela Militar [Military School] in El Salvador, with an "e".
(c) Eberhard Bohnstedt is listed in the 1939 Stammbaum, as well as the Mitglieder de Bohnstedt'schen Familien-Verbandes with his location being in San Salvador, El Salvador, and of course he is a Bohnstedt, not a Bohnstadt.
- VanWyngarden, Greg. Early German Aces of World War 1. Osprey Publishing Limited. Great Britatin. 2006 (ISBN 1841769975)
- Funderburk, Thomas R. The Fighters, The Men and Machines of the First Air War. Grosset & Dunlap. New York. 1965 (ISBN 0448140187)
- Citino, Robert Michael. The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the German Army, 1920-1939. Lynne Rienner Publishers. 1999 (ISBN 1555877141)
- Irving, David. The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe; the Life of Field Marshal Erhard Milch. 1973 (ISBN 0316432385)
- Sayers, Michael. Kahn, Albert E. The Plot Against the Peace. Dial Press. 1945
- Gunther, John. Inside Latin America. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1941
- Loveman, Brian and Davies, Thomas M. The Politics of Antipolitics: The Military in Latin America. Rowman & Littlefield. 1997 edition. (ISBN 0842026118)
- Williams, Philip J. and Walter, Knut. Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy. Univ of Pittsburgh Press. 1997 (ISBN 0822956462)
1-30 / The Buchwäldchen Bohnstedt Line; The Bohnstedts and Prussian Military Tradition
1-24 / The Lichtenrade Bohnstedt Line; The Descendants of Ferdinand Wilhelm Adolf Bohnstedt
1-43 / Genealogy 1-6-2: Prussia and Eastern Germany: Lichtenrade
5-7 / Appendix F: Military Ranking Systems of Germany and the United States
5-8 / Appendix G: Mitglieder de Bohnstedt'schen Familien-Verbandes März 1938
5-11 / Appendix J: Stammbaum der Familie Bohnstedt (1939)
Eberhard Bohnstedt, www.ww2gravestone.com (English)
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