The Germans were among the first nations in the 1930s to raise an air assault (parachute) force. By the outbreak of WWII they were ready to send these elite soldiers into battle. Although they had used the paratroopers tactically with considerable success in Belgium and Holland, the isolated Mediterranean island of Crete seemed to be the perfect place to use it in a large-scale operation. The British forces were in disarray on the island, having just escaped in a Dunkirk-like evacuation from the Greek mainland.
The Germans committed their entire airborne Fallschrimjager force to take the island quickly. After a brief period where the battle could have gone either way, the Germans were victorious and occupied the island for the duration of WW2. But the victory was truly a “pyrrhic” one; with huge losses in men and equipment, losses so enormous that Hitler lost confidence in the concept of airborne assault.
Never again were the Fallschrimjager committed to battle from the air. This reticence to employ the airborne forces in the manner of their design preserved the strategic Mediterranean island of Malta from German invasion, a “domino effect” which led to the defeat of Rommel in North Africa and the inevitable ejection of Axis forces from the entirety of North Africa.