Members of Jasta 26 with Vizefeldwebel Fritz Beckhardt on the far right, May 1918.
Vizefeldwebel Fritz Beckhardt (27 March 1889 – 13 January 1962) was a German Jewish fighter ace in WWI. He served in Jagdstaffel 26, together with Hermann Göring (though Göring later moved up to Jasta 27). The Nazis later expunged Beckhardt’s name from Luftwaffe history records, and thus the official number of Beckhardt’s victories is controversial and difficult to establish (the current estimation being between 17 and 22). However, for his service in the war, Beckhardt was decorated generously - Grand Duchy of Hesse War Honor Decoration, Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Iron Cross First and Second Class, Grand Duchy of Hesse Bravery Medal, Bavarian Military Merit Cross, Baden War Merit Cross, black Wound Badge, Hamburg Field Honor Badge, Cross of Honor. He was also a member of the League of Jewish Soldiers at the Front by the end of the war.
When Armistice was declared, Beckhardt refused to surrender his plane and was as a result internet in Switzerland until 1919. Upon his return to Germany, he resumed his pre-war work in the grocery shop business. As Nazis began the boycott of Jewish business, Beckhardt had to move and re-open his business until finally the regime caught up to him in 1937. He was tried for “having relations with an Aryan woman” and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp as prisoner 8135.
Beckhardt survived his internment at Buchenwald, presumably because of Göring’s intervention for his old comrade-in-arms, and he was released in 1940. He and his wife escaped to neutral Portugal, then to England, and eventually they returned to Germany in 1950, where Beckhardt died after a series of strokes.
Ironically, Beckhardt’s personal insignia was a swastika on the tail of his plane, though of course at the time the swastika was not associated with the Nazi party or anything sinister. Beckhardt’s swastika was also faced a different direction.