It seems that one WWII German pilot is still filled with remorse about shooting down one of his own favorite authors, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince and several books on the early days of aviation. The story comes from The Globe and Mail:
If only he had known. Now, in the winter of his life, an elderly German war veteran has stepped forward to say he believes he shot down his literary idol - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the beloved children's tale, The Little Prince...
"If I had known, I wouldn't have fired - not on him," said the 88-year-old former Luftwaffe fighter pilot Horst Rippert.
The death of the French pilot, who disappeared while on a solo flight for the Allied forces in 1944, had been one of the great mysteries of aviation and 20th-century literature.
Mr. Rippert said he suspected within days that he had shot down the famous writer. But he kept quiet, keeping the secret for more than six decades.Another great irony of the author's death is that he was piloting an unarmed airplane. There were cameras on board the reconnaissance flight but no guns that could have been used even in self-defense. Even world war can become very personal in the saddest of ways.
"You can imagine what would have happened to my career if people had known what I had done during the war," he said.
The disclosure came when Mr. Rippert was tracked down following the recovery of Saint-Exupéry's plane off the coast of southern France by a Marseilles diver, Luc Vanrell.