The youngest-ever general in the Luftwaffe, Dietrich Peltz joined the Army in 1934. While attending the Army cadet school, he was transferred to the first instructional class of the Luftwaffe, earning his wings in 1936. Only two weeks prior to the beginning of World War II, he was a Ju 87 dive-bomber squadron leader in the last big military exercise at Neuhammer. Because of unforecast bad weather, 13 crews lost their lives in the exercise; but Peltz did not lose a single aircraft from his squadron. In the Polish campaign, his attack on the railway station at Kamiona cut off one of the last avenues for retreat of the Polish Army.
His achievements in this campaign earned him the Iron Cross, First and Second Class. In the opening of the French campaign, Peltz’s squadron supported the air insertion of infantry behind Belgian lines. In all, he led 102 missions against Poland and France; his squadron didn’t suffer a single loss. After the French campaign, he converted to the Ju 88 bomber and was assigned to the staff of Kampfgeschwader 77. Peltz belonged to a select group of pilots who carried out solo raids, diving out of the clouds at low level to bomb airfields, factories, and rail stations. For actions during the campaigns in Poland, France, and Britain, he earned the Knight’s Cross, Germany’s highest honor.
Elevated to group commander, Peltz developed superior bombing techniques, allowing his group to achieve astonishing success against precision targets during the Russian campaign. His highly accurate results against difficult point targets earned his decoration with the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross. He was then assigned as head of the Bomber Unit Commanders School, where all current and future operational bomber commanders had to prove themselves. Out of the Commanders School, the Luftwaffe tasked Peltz to form a special unit, Kampfgeschwader 66, to develop the use of rocket bombs against Allied shipping.
Following that assignment, he was the first of the Luftwaffe’s new generation to be named Commander of the Bomber Force and Inspector of Bombers. The contributions Peltz made to the war effort earned him the distinction of being the 31st recipient of the Swords to the Knight’s Cross. In August 1943, Goring named Peltz “Attack Leader England,” promoted him to General Major, and ordered him to renew the bombing offensive against Britain. During the Ardennes offensive of December 1944, Peltz took command of II Fighter Corps. In March 1945, he took command of the entire Reich Defense Force. Following the war, Peltz returned to civilian life and made a career in industry.