Did you know how the war ended for the German interrogator in Masters of the Air?

Lieutenant Haussmann offering a whisky to Major Egan in episode 6 of Masters of the Air
(Image: Apple Studios)

Today's reaction to the miniseries Masters of the Air focuses on Lieutenant Haussmann, the friendly Luftwaffe interrogator who questions Major John Egan. Fans seem to assume that Haussmann's figure was based on Hanns Scharff, the so-called "Master Interrogator" (Read our earlier article) who helped pioneer modern nonviolent interrogation techniques through the heavy use of background research and the exploitation of the basic human need to talk, especially after a traumatic experience. It's possible that that Scharff provided at least some of the inspiration for the figure (like Haussmann in the series, Scharff did not wear the Luftwaffe breast eagle patch), but we believe another person was a more direct model.

Ulrich Haussmann, who was most likely the inspiration behind the character in the show
(Photo: merkki.com)

Second Lieutenant Ulrich Haussmann (the name even matches!) was another interrogator and one of Scharff's colleagues who used the same techniques. He attended Columbia University as a young man and had an American pilot's license. One U.S. serviceman he interrogated was then-Lieutenant Colonel Don Hillman, a P-47 fighter pilot. Hillman escaped from German captivity in 1945, only to be recaptured 5 days later, and taken to a small prison where he met Haussmann again. Hillman told his old interrogator that the war was coming to an end and that Haussmann should start making plans for the future. Haussmann had Hillman placed in solitary confinement, but only so he could visit him in the dead of night and talk to him in private.

Hillman in his P-47
(Photo: U.S. Army Air Forces)

The two hatched a plan. Haussmann convinced the prison's commandant to let him, another guard, Hillman and another prisoner go and find the American force that was drawing near. They could then warn the Americans that the camp held Allied prisoners, and convince them not to bombard the village with artillery. The plan worked as intended: once they got to the front. Haussmann and the other German handed over their guns and surrendered voluntarily.

90-year-old Haussmann with W. Lewis Curry, commanding officer of the 36th Fighter Force, at a 1994 reunion
(Photo: merkki.com)

After the war, Hillman put in a good word for Haussmann, who treated him well during his own captivity. The two men stayed friends for the rest of their lives, and Hillman even helped his old interrogator and his family emigrate to the United States. (On an unrelated but interesting note, Hillman flew the United States' first deep penetration reconnaissance mission into the Soviet Union in 1952.)

National Medal of Honor Day promotion

Save $600 on all tours

The Medals of Honor of different branches of the U.S. armed forces
(Photo: public domain)

On the occasion of the upcoming National Medal of Honor Day, we are offering all our available tours with a discount of $600 if you book and pay in full by March 25, 2024. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, please contact our travel consultants at info@beachesofnormandy.com or by calling our toll-free number: +1 855-473-1999.

Book now
Hear from our Passengers
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Beaches of Normandy Tours review
"It was truly amazing, I would definitely recommend BoN"D-Day Anniversary Tour, 2023
Beaches of Normandy Tours review
"It was everything I could have hoped for and more"Band of Brothers Tour, 2023
Beaches of Normandy Tours review
"I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in history that changed the world"D-Day Anniversary Tour, 2023
4.9 - 289 reviews