During the writing of my book, Shot Down, my wife, Glenda, suggested that I try to find the German fighter pilot who shot down my dad’s plane. My initial reaction was, “Yeah right. There’s no way.” However, I said I’d try and searched “trying to find a Luftwaffe pilot” on Google. I then joined a couple of forums, Axis History Forum and The Luftwaffe Archives & Records Reference Group and again posted my question.
To my surprise, in less than a week I received responses from Andrew Arthy with Air War Publications and author Erik Mombeek that lead to the discovery of Lt. Hans G. Berger, a Focke-Wulf 190 pilot with Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) – Jagd, meaning hunt and Geschwader, meaning wing of the German Luftwaffe – Luft meaning air and Waffe meaning weapon or arm. Amazing enough as this discovery was, I learned that Hans was 90 years old and was living in Munich, Germany. Furthermore, he was a translator and spoke English!
Well, I emailed Hans to introduce myself, and we began emailing back and forth. The result was that he provided me with some great information and wonderful insight that is included in my book.
Today, I called him, and we spoke live for the first time. In 1944, Hans Berger was my father’s enemy. Today, 70 years later, Hans Berger is my friend.