There had been a lot of people— men and women who stood out from the rest during the time of war, be it with their skills, talent, wit, or intelligence, or it could also be for their heroism or compassion for others. There were also those who stood out for all the wrong reasons, which is, of course, not a good thing. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer’s name was one of those known in history and for incredible reasons.

Off to a Great Start

Schnaufer was born in Calw, Free People’s State of Wurttemberg of the German Reich, on February 16, 1922. He was the eldest among the four children of a mechanical engineer and merchant, Alfred Schnaufer and Martha. His father also owned and managed a family business, their Schnaufer-Schlossberhkellerei winery, which was founded by his grandfather and father after World War I. When Schnaufer’s father died in 1940, his mother took over the business while looking after the children.

Schnaufer House in Calw. (Softeis, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

At an early age, Schnaufer already expressed his desire to join a military organization, so he joined the German Youth in 1933. After completing his sixth grade, he took and passed the Backnang National Political Institutes of Education, a boarding school founded under the Nazi state, which was just recently founded at that time. There, he stood out and finished at the top of his class every year. He graduated at the age of 17 with distinction. At the same time, he completed his B-license to fly glider aircraft.  At the time, Germany was forbidden an airforce so by the Treaty of Versailles so Germany trained her pilots in gliders as a work-around.

After graduation, Schnaufer took and passed his entry exams for officer cadets of the Luftwaffe. He underwent basic military training, and by April 1, 1940, he was appointed as a cadet. Next was his flight training, including the advanced flight training that he took at Alt Lonnewitz. This qualified him to fly multi-engine aircraft.