Erwin Clausen

Erwin Clausen
Born (1911-08-05)5 August 1911
Berlin-Steglitz, Germany
Died 4 October 1943(1943-10-04) (aged 32)
North Sea
Allegiance  Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Reichsmarine
Years of service 1931–43
Rank Major
Unit Hessen
Gorch Fock
LG 2, JG 77, EJGr Süd, JG 11
Commands held 6./JG 77, I./JG 11

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Erwin Clausen (5 August 1911 – 4 October 1943) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Clausen was credited with 132 aerial victories—that is, 132 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft—with some unconfirmed victories in 561 combat missions.

Early life and career

Clausen was born on 5 August 1911 in Berlin-Steglitz, the son of a joiner. Before joining military service he worked in his fathers company. He joined the Reichsmarine, the German Navy during the Weimar Republic, in 1931. During his service with the Reichsmarine he went on cruises on board of Hessen and the school ship Gorch Fock. He then transferred to the Luftwaffe of the Third Reich as an Unteroffizier (Sergeant) in 1935 to receive flying training.[1][Note 1]

World War II

He was promoted to Feldwebel before the outbreak of World War ΙΙ. He participated in the invasion of Poland and claimed his first victory when he shot down a PWS-26 biplane trainer on 9 September 1939. He scored more victories with some unconfirmed victories during the French campaign.

On 1 February 1941, Clausen, by now an Oberleutnant, was appointed Staffelkapitän of 1.(J)/Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2—2nd Demonstration Wing) to support of the invasion of the Balkans.[Note 2] After claiming three victories his unit withdrew to the Eastern Front. In Russia, he was particularly successful and was awarded the Knight's Cross on 22 May after achieving 52 victories. On 27 June, he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 6./Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77 Fighter Wing).

Clausen reached his 100th victory by shooting down an Il-2 on 22 July 1942. He was the 12th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark.[2] He was awarded Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross the next day. He was transferred to the Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Süd on 1 February 1943, and later, promoted to Hauptmann, he became a Gruppenkommandeur of I./Jagdgeschwader 11 on 20 June 1943. This unit carried out Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties. On 4 October 1943 he shot down a B-24 Liberator but then was killed in aerial combat over the North Sea in his Fw 190A-5.

Clausen was credited with 132 aerial victories with some unconfirmed victories in 561 combat missions. He recorded one victory over Poland, three over Yugoslavia (these being Hawker Fury fighters of the 36th Fighter Group shot down over Režanovačka Kosa airfield near Kumanovo on 6 April 1941), 14 victories over the Western Front with the remaining victories achieved over the Eastern Front.[3] He was posthumously promoted to Major. Three of his brothers were killed in action during World War II.[4]



  1. Flight training in the Luftwaffe progressed through the levels A1, A2 and B1, B2, referred to as A/B flight training. A training included theoretical and practical training in aerobatics, navigation, long-distance flights and dead-stick landings. The B courses included high-altitude flights, instrument flights, night landings and training to handle the aircraft in difficult situations.
  2. For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Luftwaffe Organization
  3. According to Scherzer on 22 May 1942 as pilot in the 1./Jagdgeschwader 77[8]



  1. Stockert 2012, p. 21.
  2. Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
  3. Spick 1996, p. 230.
  4. Obermaier 1989, p. 51.
  5. 1 2 Thomas 1997, p. 100.
  6. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 74.
  7. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 154.
  8. 1 2 Scherzer 2007, p. 260.
  9. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 60.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1. 
  • Stockert, Peter (2012) [1997]. Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2] (in German) (4th ed.). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-9802222-9-7. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
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