German paratroopers - why did Hitler disbanded them?

So I am a world war 2 nerd and I knew German paratroopers were effective during world war 2 but I don’t really understand why hitler disbanded them


He actually didn’t disband them. Fallschirmjägers (German paratroopers) would fight all throughout the war. For example, Kurt Student was sent to Holland to form the 1st Fallschirmjäger Army which very quickly found itself fighting against the British (and even Americans IIRC) during Operation Market-Garden. The 3rd Fallschirmjäger (?) would fight against the US 3rd Army to stop Patton’s counterattack during the Bulge with the famous Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte lead a special battlegroup that carried out a parachute raid to support Watch on the Rhein. So the “Green Devils” were in action until the bitter end.

Now if you’re asking why they didn’t carry out major airborne operations after 1941 then there are two basic reasons. The first was that the Fallschirmjägers took terrible losses at Crete which, from what I’ve heard, turned Hitler against their use in this way. But there is a more practicable reason too… by 1942 the tide of war had turned against the Axis powers and they were basically on the defensive. Airborne formations are almost by definition offensive formations… there isn’t much need for airborne operations while you’re on the defensive. Finally, I would point out that by the end of 1942 that the allies had achieved air superiority on most fronts so airborne operations would have been very limited anyway.

Check out the wiki on Fallschirmjägers to see what they were up to during the later parts of the war.


Is it accurate to say that they essentially became like any other regular German army troops or were they still equipped and trained as an airborne force?

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I recommend to read ‘Crete’ by Anthony Beevor on this topic. He explains a lot about the German paratroopers. Basically, after the ‘pyrrhic victory’ of Crete, Hitler said that the time of paratroopers is over. As reasons he mentioned that airborne operations relied entirely on surprise and by 1941 it was seemingly impossible to make surprise operations.

So most of them were sent to the Russian front as footsoldiers. With equipment and training of regular infantry.

If you think about it, it makes sense as later big airborne operations by the allies like operation overlord and market garden either failed completely or the airborne part was not quite successful. E.g. in Normandy many were dropped in the wrong positions and at market garden the Germans captured almost the entire 1st para division of the British.

On top of everything, look at how many resources the allies had to invest just to maintain that element of surprise during operation overlord.

So despite the fact that German paratroopers were very effective, they were also very costly in resources and are subject to heavy losses. Both things that Germany could not afford.


By the end of the war, the FJ, particularly on the Eastern Front, were mainly Luftwaffe ground staff, even if they had some special equipment. According to Beevor, they were the first troops to break on the Seelow Heights

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Is it also not true that the Fallschirmjägers suffered heavy losses during the Battle of the Netherlands in May of 1940 in both in transport planes lost and also Fallschirmjägers who where captured by the Dutch and transported to the United Kingdom, which together with the Battle of Crete made Hitler say that he would never allow any major parachute operation again.

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A little bit of both. The spirit of the FJs remained and they were very effective units. But by '44 many of their replacements weren’t even jump trained, so there were only a relative handful of fully qualified paratroopers left by the time of the Battle of the Bulge. The nubes acquired the spirit of the FJs but they weren’t proper paratroopers and so were FJ units in name only.


They were never disbanded. Contrary to popular myth, they even conducted mass airborne operations after
crete, at Sicily in particular in 1943


The Fallschirmjager weren’t disbanded, but they were never again used in such a large operation as they were in Crete.

The number of transports, men and equipment lost during the operation, as well as Hitler’s belief that airborne operations were a surprise tactic that had lost their ability to enact said suprise, led to the grounding of the Fallschirmjager. Many units still fought, but in ground rolls.