During the war, Rudel was credited with the destruction of 519 tanks, as well as a number of ships. He claimed 9 aerial victories and the destruction of more than 800 vehicles of all types. He flew 2,530 ground-attack missions exclusively on the Eastern Front, usually flying the Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bomber, and 430 missions flying fighter aircraft. Rudel was the most decorated German serviceman of World War II receiving the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds in January 1945; the decoration was created specifically for him. Rudel surrendered to US forces on 8 May 1945.
Rudel fled to Argentina in 1948. A committed and unrepentant Nazi, he founded the "Kameradenwerk", a relief organization for Nazi criminals that helped fugitives escape to Latin America and the Middle East. Together with Willem Sassen, Rudel helped shelter Josef Mengele, the notorious former SSdoctor at Auschwitz. He worked as an arms dealer and a military advisor to the regimes of Juan Perón in Argentina, of Augusto Pinochetin Chile, and of Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay. Due to these activities, he was placed under observation by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
In the West German federal election of 1953, Rudel, who had returned to West Germany, was the top candidate for the far-right German Reich Party but was not elected to the Bundestag. Following the Revolución Libertadora in 1955, the uprising that ended the second presidential term of Perón, Rudel moved to Paraguay, where he acted as a foreign representative for several German companies. In 1977, he became a spokesman for the German People's Union, a neo-Nazipolitical party founded by the extremist politician Gerhard Frey. Rudel died in West Germany in 1982.
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