By Peter Fritzsche
Great, fragile airships soaring in an enormous sky, struggle aces keen about demise and destruction, bold younger males launching their handbuilt gliders, schoolchildren donning fuel mask in the course of air-raid drills - the brilliant idealism of flight and its darker provider in overall warfare come to existence during this ebook approximately Germany's perilous romance with aviation. From the Kaiser's moment Reich to Hitler's 3rd Reich, desktop goals mingled with imperial desires and mastery over the wildlife held the promise of mastery over the political international. this is often renowned historical past of the trendy period. From the crowds within the shadow of Graf Zeppelin's highly renowned airships, to the myths surrounding the chivalrous fighter pilots of global warfare I, and eventually to the worldwide succeed in of airplanes within the Twenties, Fritzsche goals to teach flight to be a wealthy image for power and modernism. yet German aviation used to be extra that an exuberant tale of technical accomplishment; it turned a dismal story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even earlier than the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of guys and girls who stood able to repair German energy. The ebook concludes with an exploration of the stricken intersection of recent expertise and nationwide Socialism. via drawing from a variety of inner most files, together with these of Lufthansa, the Zeppelin corporation, the German Aero membership, and the papers of "the father of gliding", Oskar Ursinus, in addition to through examining renowned poems, songs, and patriotic appeals, Fritzshe parades via his tale such heroes of aviation as Graf Zeppelin, Manfred von Richthofen, Oswald Boelcke, and Marga von Etzdorf. In doing so he strains the fascination with aviation of Weimar writers from Bertolt Brecht to Ernst Junger, dramatizes the grand twentieth-century spectacle of plenty and machines, and seeks to supply a remarkable photograph of the German mind's eye in a deadly age of technological fulfillment and nationalist ardour.
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Extra info for A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination
A poor boy from a proletarian district in northeast Berlin contributed 10 pfennigs, a newspaper reported. Indeed, it was not the thousand-mark contributions but the small pfennig donations to which newspaper editors happily drew Graf Zeppelin's attention. 20 Ambitious in scope but attentive to detail, the entire campaign was cast by patriotic boosters as an appealing display of civic spirit and national unity. Within six weeks, the German public had contributed 5 million marks, twice as much as the army had initially offered Graf Zeppelin and many times more than the paltry 8,000 marks collected in an earlier subscription effort in 1905.
Even after forty or fifty years, contemporaries attested to the popular exuberance and sense of public spirit that the zeppelin disaster pulled together. " 54 Heuss, like many other witnesses, hinted at the novel sense of nationhood which the zeppelin generated. " 55 Zeppelin Days were almost plebiscitary affairs, composing as they did a mystical union of the people that resisted official Wilhelmine management. The supposed unanimity of zeppelin enthusiasm impressed observers no end. " 57 And we know that under the zeppelin Petrenz's Berlin was a single outstretched neck, a single cheering mouth.
25 The rough zeppelin enthusiasm witnessed in Munich contrasted with the usual order of Wilhelmine festivity that prevailed on the Reich's Founding Day or the kaiser's January birthday. So when Graf Zeppelin announced a visit to Berlin, Prussian officials were especially careful. Millions of Berliners were misled when police officials remained purposefully evasive as to where the LZ 6 would land on 28 August 1909. Many chroniclers still have the zeppelin landing at Tempelhof, where immense crowds viewed the LZ 6, which passed over the site several times, but the ship actually landed near Tegel, where the imperial party and a select group of dignitaries waited.
A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination by Peter Fritzsche