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Remembered Today:

American citizens in the Imperial German Air Force?

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I came across an entry in a book about WWI aircraft that mentioned a few American volunteers in the German Air Force.

It didn't list any individual examples, however. I was wondering if anyone knew of any?

Given examples such as William Colepaugh and Martin James Monti in WWII, and that America remained neutral for much longer in WWI, I definitely believe there were a few and would be very interested to learn about any them.


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Explain "American citizen". There were plenty of Germans that were born in the US that were serving in the armed forces. Many returning to Germany when the war broke out. A simple search on verlustlisten.de with "Amerika" in the place of birth field gives 972 results.



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Hi Jan - as the US operates (just these days) a mixed jus soli / jus sanginus system people born within the United States are US citizens (there are some complications especially at this time period with the status of Native Americans) 

So second generation immigrants born in the US to German parents would (in a modern sense) be eligible for dual citizenship  - they would be American Citizens by birth (soli) but also have a claim to German citizenship based on "blood" (the German criteria) I suspect that is what is being referred to (rather imprecisely) here.


The other possibility is that there were individuals who were naturalized US citizens (having emigrated from Germany/Central Powers states) but who chose to return to their home country to serve ("volunteered") at the outbreak of war. I know there were many Germans who returned from the US to fulfill their reserve call up at the outbreak of war however I have no idea if many or these had been naturalized. It is an interesting question however.


My interest in this areas is actually from the other end - there were large numbers of immigrants from Central Powers and other European countries who registered for the draft and served in the US AEF. A review of my local division (33rd) shows a this caused consternation among the Army authorities in 1917  - but also that a high proportion of winners of the Medal of Honor from the division were foreign born.



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Jan & Chris


I was referring to people born and raised in the United States; second generation immigrants at least.

However, I'd be interested in those with non-German heritage as well, if there are any.


On 07/06/2020 at 09:58, AOK4 said:

A simple search on verlustlisten.de with "Amerika" in the place of birth field gives 972 results.


This is a good start, thank you!

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