Under British military escort, two captured Luftwaffe crewmen walk out of the London Underground, 1940


Under British military escort, two German Luftwaffe crewmen, an Unteroffijer (subordinate officer, or corporal) and an Oberleutnant (highest-ranking lieutenant officer) who were on bail in the English countryside and served as prisoners of war during a bombing raid from London. was taken in. Londoners are surprised to find themselves underground on the streets of the city.

The unconventional travel arrangement for two prisoners of war on public transport probably served as a good promotional photographic opportunity, as the image would be widely circulated and seen by a nation suffering frequent air raids during the Blitz.

According to Article 42 of the Geneva Conventions, it was expressly forbidden to attack pilots who had exited their aircraft, as well as pilots who surrendered on the ground. The downed pilots on both sides were treated fairly well.

The Luftwaffe treated its prisoners of war very well because they knew that the Allies had many of their men held as prisoners, so any word of bad behavior would have to be responded to with similar actions on the other side. was likely.

At the start of World War II, there was a strong sense of chivalry between British RAF and German Luftwaffe pilots; They preferred to see themselves as "knights of the air" and to shoot enemy defenseless pilots in their parachutes would be contrary to the professionalism of their pilots.

A heated argument broke out between the two sides over the question of shooting an enemy pilot while parachuting in his own territory. On August 31, 1940, during the Battle of Britain, RAF Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding dine with Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Checkers.

After dinner, they discussed the ethics of parachuting Luftwaffe pilots. Dowding suggested that German pilots were fully entitled to shoot down RAF pilots parachuting over Britain because they were still potential fighters (ie, going back to a new aircraft to conduct another military mission) while RAF pilots should avoid firing at German pilots as they were out. After the war and eventually landing on British soil, they would become prisoners of war. Churchill was puzzled by this suggestion, arguing that shooting a parachuting pilot "was like drowning a sailor".

On the German side, Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring asked Luftwaffe fighter ace Adolf Galland what he thought of shooting down enemy pilots in his parachutes, even in his own territory. Too.

Galland replied that "I must regard it as murder, Herr Reichsmarschall. I must do everything in my power to disobey such an order". Goering – himself a fighter ace during World War I – said, "That's the answer I expected from you, Galland.

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