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During the interwar years the rapid development of aircraft and aviation technology drew the attention of imaginative military planners. The idea of inserting a large body of troops inside enemy territory was first proposed during World War I by commander of the U.S. Air Corps in France—Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. However the Allied High Command was forced to abandon the idea as it was wholly unprepared for such an undertaking, both logistically and in materiel. Among the first to recognize the potential of airborne forces were Italy and the Soviet Union. The first effective means of supporting massed infantry airborne operations came with the development of the static-line parachute in Italy in the 1920s, whereby parachutes are attached to the inside of the aircraft and deployed automatically upon departure. This technique allowed the jumps to occur at lower altitudes, limiting exposure to enemy fire, and providing a tighter drop zone grouping than individually deployed rip-cord type parachutes. The word Fallschirmjäger is from the German Fallschirm "parachute" and Jäger "hunter", the elite light infantry of the Prussian army.

The Soviets were the first to demonstrate the military possibilities of airborne infantry in the 1930s with a series of maneuvers held in 1935 and 1936. Though somewhat crude (the Soviet paratroopers had to exit their slow-moving Tupolev TB-3 transporters through a hatch in the roof and then position themselves along the wings and jump together), the exercise managed to land 1,000 troops through air-drops followed by another 2,500 soldiers with heavy equipment delivered via airlandings. The gathered forces proceeded to carry out conventional infantry attacks with the support of heavy machine guns and light artillery. Among the foreign observers present was Hermann Göring.

Soviet Paratroopers deploy from a Tupolev TB-3 in 1930.
Soviet Paratroopers deploy from a Tupolev TB-3 in 1930.

Impressed, the ambitious Göring became personally committed to the creation of Germany's airborne arm in the 1930s. As the Bavarian Prime Minister of the Interior, he had ordered the formation of a specialist police unit in 1933, the Polizeiabteilung Wecke, devoted to protecting Nazi party officials. The organization of this unit was entrusted to Polizeimajor Walther Wecke of the Prussian Police Force, who had assembled a special detachment of 14 officers and 400 men within just two days. On 17 July, the detachment was officially renamed Landespolizeigruppe Wecke. On 22 December 1933, the unit was again retitled, becoming the Landespolizeigruppe General Göring. The unit carried out conventional police duties for the next two years under the command of Göring's ministerial adjutant Friedrich Jakoby, but it was Göring's intention to ultimately produce a unit that would match the Reichswehr.

In March–April 1935, Göring transformed the Landespolizei General Göring into Germany's first dedicated airborne regiment, giving it the military designation Regiment General Göring (RGG) on 1 April 1935 (after Hitler introduced conscription on 16 March 1935). The unit was incorporated into the newly formed Luftwaffe on October 1 of the same year and training commenced at Altengrabow. Göring also ordered that a group of volunteers be drawn for parachute training. These volunteers would form a core Fallschirmschützen Bataillon ("parachute soldiers battalion"), a cadre for future Fallschirmtruppe ("parachute troops"). In January 1936, 600 men and officers formed the 1st Jger Battalion/RGG, commanded by Bruno Bräuer, and the 15th Engineer Company/RGG and were transferred to training area Döberitz for jump training while the rest of the regiment was sent to Altengrabow. Germany's parachute arm was officially inaugurated on 29 January 1936 with an Order of the Day calling for recruits for parachute training at the Stendal Parachute Training School located 96 km (60 mi) west of Berlin. The school was activated several months after the first parachute units were established in January 1936 and was open to active and reserve Luftwaffe personnel. NCOs, officers and other ranks of the Luftwaffe were required to successfully complete six jumps in order to receive the Luftwaffe Parachutist's Badge (instituted on 5 November 1936).

Gunston, Bill & Wood, Tony - Hitler's Luftwaffe, 1977, Salamander Books Ltd., London

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