By Peter Fritzsche
Sizeable, fragile airships soaring in an enormous sky, conflict aces enthusiastic about loss of life and destruction, bold younger males launching their handbuilt gliders, schoolchildren donning gasoline 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 booklet approximately Germany's perilous romance with aviation. From the Kaiser's moment Reich to Hitler's 3rd Reich, desktop desires mingled with imperial desires and mastery over the wildlife held the promise of mastery over the political global. this can be renowned historical past of the trendy period. From the crowds within the shadow of Graf Zeppelin's highly well known airships, to the myths surrounding the chivalrous fighter pilots of global battle I, and at last to the worldwide achieve of airplanes within the Twenties, Fritzsche goals to teach flight to be a wealthy image for power and modernism. yet German aviation was once extra that an exuberant tale of technical accomplishment; it grew to become a depressing story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even prior to the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of guys and girls who stood able to repair German energy. The booklet concludes with an exploration of the intersection of contemporary expertise and nationwide Socialism. by means of drawing from various inner most information, 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 by means of reading well known 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 lines 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 awesome photograph of the German mind's eye in a perilous age of technological success and nationalist ardour.
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Extra info for A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination
Again and again, socialists and workers, so often tarred as the internal enemy of the Reich and denounced as "journeymen without a fatherland," served bourgeois commentators as happy affirmations of the genuine and popular character of the public subscription. 59 It is not difficult to deflate the self-satisfied estimations of Germany's metropolitan press. The entire nation did not stand behind Graf Zeppelin. Predominantly liberal and well-to-do contributors in southwestern Germany were not representative of the nation as a whole.
On 2 April 1 g09, thousands of Bavarians gathered and waited for hours to view the giant ship. Infantry and cavalry units cordoned off the landing site, but as the airship descended and the prince regent moved forward to greet Graf Zeppelin, anxious sightseers broke through the barriers. The prince suddenly found himself closely surrounded by an excited populous, which pushed cavalrymen so far forward that their lances threatened to poke the ship's hull. The unseemly incident unsettled authorities.
Given the prominent role of daily newspapers, business associations, and civic clubs in the subscription (ffort, zeppelin enthusiasm was surely more developed in metropolitan precincts and more tepid in rural Prussia, which was far removed from the airship's illustrious circuit. 60 Along with museums, zoological gardens, and charities, the zeppelin fund flourished mainly in cities. Its contributors were mostly though not exclusively middle-class Germans. Depictions of zeppelin enthusiasm among socialist workers and proletarian children were especially valuable to bourgeois commemorators.