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Stauffenberg, Schenk Gräfin von, Melitta

Date of birth:
January 9th, 1903 (Krotoschin/Posen, Germany (now Poland)
Date of death:
April 8th, 1945 (over Straßkirchen, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

Gräfin Melitta Schenk von Stauffenberg- Schiller was the Sister-in-law of Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg. She was born on January 9th 1903 in Krotochin. Melitta Schiller’s mother was Jewish. In 1919 she moved from Kotoschin to study at the Hirschberg Gymnasium. At school she developed a special interest in physics and aerodynamics. In 1922 she was the first female to be accepted for glider training. She attended the Technical High School in Munich, where she studied mathematics, physics and flight mechanics.
In 1927 she qualified as an engineer and found a job at the German Flight Institute (DVL) at Berlin- Adlershof. She was appointed Flugkapitän in 1937 as the second woman in Germany. When the Second World War broke out, she was employed with the German Red Cross and straight away drafted in the Luftwaffe Ministry to put her skills to use in studying flight instrumentation and flight-testing the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka.
On October 24th 1939 she was posted to the Experimental Office of the Luftwaffe in Rechlin, where she tested the Sturzflugvisiere for the Stuka and the Junkers Ju 88. She made over 1500 test flights with dive-bombers. On February 1st 1942 she was sent to the Luftwaffe Technical Academy on Berlin-Gatow.

In July 1944 she was arrested and held in prison on suspicion of being involved in her Brother-in-law’s attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler. She was released and instituted in her former job for there was no evidence against her. In 1944 she was nominated to earn the Eisernes Kreuz 1.Klasse, but she never received it.
On April 8th 1945 she was shot down by American fighters, while she was test flying a Bücker Bü 181 near Straßkirchen. She died of her injuries several hours later.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Flugkapitänin
Unit:
Askania-Werken, Berlin-Friedenau
Awarded on:
October 28th, 1937
Flugzeugführerabzeichen
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Flugkapitänin
Unit:
Technische Akademie der Luftwaffe, Berlin-Gatow
Awarded on:
January 22nd, 1943
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Flugkapitänin
Unit:
Technische Akademie der Luftwaffe, Berlin-Gatow
Awarded on:
1943
Gemeinsames Flugzeugfuhrer-Beobachter Abzeichen mit Brillianten

Sources

  • Photo: STIWOT
  • - Previtera S.T., "The Iron Time", IMM - Magazine for Orders, Militaria and History, Nov. 99
    - Bracke G., Melitta Gräfin Stauffenberg, Das Leben einer Fliegerin, Ullstein, 1993
    - Lyne-Gordon D., Glittering Eagles
    - Hoffmann P., Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg und seine Brüder, Stuttgart 1992
    - Hoffmann P., Hale C.A., Stauffenberg, Melitta Schiller in: Amazons to Fighter Pilots. A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Bd. 2: R-Z, hg. by Reina Pennington, Westport 2003, 416-418

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