Milch had been a fighter squadron commander in World War I and had then gone on to work in the commercial aviation industry. In 1926 he was made Chairman of Lufthansa, the newly formed state airline. He used Lufthansa as a cover behind which he developed the skilled manpower and tested the techniques and machinery which would form the new German Air Force. When the Luftwaffe was officially recognized in 1935 it had 1000 aircraft and 20,000 trained men, and Milch was placed at the head of the Air Ministry. Working with UDET and Wever, Milch directed the organizational side of the business for which he had tremendous talent. He had been a close friend of GOERING, but they fell out and Udet was temporarily in the ascendant until he committed suicide in 1941. Milch was the dominant figure in German aircraft production until 1944 when he had to share his power with SPEER. He was convicted of war crimes and was released on parole in 1955.