Gottfried P. Dulias was born on 25 June 1925 in his family home in Germany during the start of Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. As a young boy, he had a relatively normal upbringing in a well-to-do family in Konigsberg, capital of the former German Province of East Prussia. Although his mother was a kind soul who kept Dulias and his three sisters centered, his father was a former Prussian military officer who raised his children with a firm hand and a demand for perfection. Later in life, Dulias would come to understand that his father’s stern behavior was his way of showing love, and among other things it led to Dulias being a bright student with his own drive for perfection.
When he was about five years old, Dulias received a large kite as a birthday present. Playing with the kite ignited a love of all things related to flight, and it was from that early experience he developed a passion to become a pilot. By the time Dulias became a teenager, Hitler had secured his place as the leader of the Third Reich, and Dulias-along with all of his companions of the day between the ages of ten and seventeen-became an obligatory member of the group commonly known as the Hitler Youth Group. Like most German children of the day, Dulias was proud to be a member of the Hitler Jugend, a boys’ group that instilled in its members a passion for patriotism.
In 1943, at the age of 18, Dulias was summoned to Munich for rigorous testing to determine his eligibility for military service. His efforts were rewarded with induction into the Luftwaffe-Nazi Germany’s premier air force. His three-month military training course passed quickly, and soon he was a trainee at the German Air Academy. Because of his previous glider training as a Hitler Youth, Dulias had little trouble with the six-month course. By the early fall of 1944, he was a full-fledged fighter pilot assigned to Jagdgeschwader 53rd Squadron. Flying his Messerschmitt Me-109G against Allied bomber-escort fighters, he soon scored two shoot-downs.
In October 1944, his group was assigned to fighter duties on the Russian front, where Dulias was credited with three victories. On 4 March 1945, Dulias strayed across the front line while trailing a Russian fighter he had damaged, and was shot down by Russian ground fire. He belly-landed, was captured and was taken to a Russian prison camp (Gulag) where he was subjected to harsh conditions, hard labor and meager subsistence consisting primarily of a watered-down cabbage soup (Kapusta). After nearly three years of imprisonment, Dulias was released and returned to his family on 4 January 1948. He moved to the United States in March 1953 with his wife Hedwig (Hedi) and established a home in a small town on Long Island where he continues to reside. In 2004, he co-authored the story of his life in a book titled Another Bowl of Kapusta. He now enjoys spending time at World War II events where he takes part in historical reenactments.