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About this creation
During World War II, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) raised a variety of airborne light infantry (Fallschirmjäger) units. Unlike the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, and the USA, the German paratroopers were part of the Luftwaffe rather than the Heer (German Army). Starting from a small collection of Fallschirmjäger battalions at the beginning of the war, the Luftwaffe built up a division-sized unit of three Fallschirmjäger regiments plus supporting arms and air assets, known as the 7th Flieger Division (7th Air Division).
Fallschirmjäger units made the first airborne invasion when invading Denmark on the 9 April 1940. In the early morning hours of Operation Weserübung, they attacked and took control of Aalborg Air Base which played a key role acting as a refuel station for the Luftwaffe in the subsequent invasion of Norway. In the same assault the bridges around Aalborg were taken. Other airborne attacks during the Battle of Denmark were also carried out, including one on a fort on the island Masnedø.
The first opposed airborne attacks occurred during the Norwegian Campaign, first during the initial invasion when Fallschirmjägers captured the defended air base of Sola, near Stavanger. The Fallschirmjäger also had their first defeat in Norway, when a company was dropped on the village and railroad junction of Dombås on 14 April 1940 and was destroyed by the Norwegian Army in a five day battle.
Later in the war, the 7th Air Division's Fallschirmjäger assets were re-organised and used as the core of a new series of elite Luftwaffe Infantry divisions, numbered in a series beginning with the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division. These formations were organized and equipped as motorized infantry divisions, and often played a "fire brigade" role on the western front. Their constituents were often encountered on the battlefield as ad hoc battle groups (Kampfgruppen) detached from a division or organized from miscellaneous available assets. In accord with standard German practice, these were called by their commander's name, such as Group Erdmann in France and the Ramcke Parachute Brigade in North Africa.
After mid-1944, Fallschirmjäger were no longer trained as paratroops due to the realities of the strategic situation, but retained the Fallschirmjäger honorific. Near the end of the war, the series of new Fallschirmjäger divisions extended to more than 12, with a concomitant reduction in quality in the higher-numbered units of the series. Among these divisions was the 9th Fallschirmjäger Division, which was the final parachute division to be raised by Germany during World War II. The division was destroyed during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945. (These divisions should not be confused with the Luftwaffe Field Divisions, a poorly organised and managed series of light infantry divisions raised from excess Luftwaffe personnel early in the war.)
Over 54,449 paratroops were killed in action and over 8,000 are still listed as missing in action.
Fallschirmjäger were awarded a total of 134 Knight's Cross of the Iron Crosses between the years 1940–1945. Twenty-four KC were awarded in the west and 27 were awarded after Crete. Out of the 134 KC, 15 were with oak leaves, five with oak leaves and swords, and one with oak leaves, swords and diamonds.