Willi Rosenstein

28/1/1892 - 0/5/1949

Record updated

Willi Rosenstein Willi Rosenstein was a very famous prewar pilot and he was an ace in WWI. Wounded at Verdun on 28 April 1916, Rosenstein was posted to Jasta 27 on 15 February 1917 where he often flew as Hermann Göring's wingman. Recommended for the Order of the House of Hohenzollern in 1918, Rosenstein failed to receive it before the war ended. He took up driving in 1928 when he aquired a Mercedes 'S'. He competed over a three year period with considerable success in sports car races and hill climbs. After Hitler came to power, Willy Rosenstein found it difficult to fly. The Nazis made it very clear that he was not welcome at any flying fields. An old war comrade was in charge of one of the flying fields, however, and he refused to comply with Nazi orders that Jews were forbidden to fly. He allowed Rosenstein to use the field whenever he wished, but Rosenstein became concerned that his old comrade would soon get into serious trouble, so he stopped going to the flying field. Rosenstein decided that he and his family should get out of Germany, and although the Nazis did not want Jews in the country, they made it increasingly difficult for Jews to leave. When German Jews tried to emigrate, the government taxed so much of their money and property that in most cases there was not enough left to buy a passage to another country or to provide a means for making a living. Rosenstein was running into all kinds of Nazi bureaucratic roadblocks as he tried to leave the country. A man Rosenstein had barely known from his days in Goering's squadron told Rosenstein he would inform Goering of his dilemma. Considering the circumstances under which he had left Goering's squadron, Rosenstein expected no help. To Rosenstein's great surprise, Goering sent him a letter that he admits "made things easier in some ways," because he was allowed to leave the country and take three planes and their spare parts with him, "a privilege which was not granted to other Jews at that time [summer 1936]." When he arrived in South Africa in 1936, he setup a flying school and became a distributor for Bucker planes. He was detained in 1940 as a potential enemy of state. Ironically, considering the fact that he flew with Goering during WWI and was in fact in Goering's Squadron, his son Ernst died flying a Spitfire over Italy, 3 weeks before the end of WWII . Willi died in 1949, doing what he loved best, flying, the result of a mid-air collision with a trainee pilot.