Q: Tell about the time you received the Oak Leaves from Hitler.
A: That was a strange time. First, most of us were drunk. Gerd Barkhorn, Walter Krupinski, Johannes Wiese and I were to report to Berchtesgaden. All of us except Gerd were getting the Oak Leaves, he was getting the Swords. By the time we got their we were trying to sober up. Walter always stated years later that we had to hold each other up. We had been drinking cognac and champagne, a deadly combination when you have not eaten in a couple of days. The first person we met off the train was Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant, Major von Below, who was I think in a state of shock at our condition. Were to meet Hitler in a couple of hours, and we could hardly stand. This was in March 1944, and there was a lot of snow at that time at that altitude.
Q: I spoke to Walter Krupinski and read about the ‘hat event’ in your biography by Ray Toliver and Trevor Constable. What was that about?
A: I could not find my hat, and my vision was not the best, so I took a hat on a stand and put it on, and it was too large. I knew it was not mine at that time. Below became upset and told me it was Hitler’s, and to put it back. Everyone was laughing about it except Below. I made some joke about Hitler having a big head, and that it ‘must go with the job’, which created even more laughter.
good read: http://www.hotlinecy.com/hartmann.htm