By Peter Fritzsche
Large, fragile airships soaring in an enormous sky, battle aces captivated with demise and destruction, bold younger males launching their handbuilt gliders, schoolchildren donning gasoline mask in the course of air-raid drills - the intense idealism of flight and its darker carrier in overall warfare come to existence during this publication 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 flora and fauna held the promise of mastery over the political global. this is often renowned background of the fashionable 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 conflict I, and eventually to the worldwide achieve of airplanes within the Twenties, Fritzsche goals to teach flight to be a wealthy image for energy and modernism. yet German aviation was once extra that an exuberant tale of technical accomplishment; it turned a dismal story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even prior to the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of guys and ladies who stood able to restoration German strength. The booklet concludes with an exploration of the stricken intersection of recent expertise and nationwide Socialism. through drawing from quite a few inner most documents, 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 via examining 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 photo of the German mind's eye in a deadly age of technological fulfillment and nationalist ardour.
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Extra resources for A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination
IS Within twenty-four hours enough money had accumulated to replace the LZ 4. Heinkel's story is probably apocryphal; local newspapers in their reports from Echterdingen do not mention collections taken up at the disaster site itself. But the fictional incident is instructive. The accent on the workingman and his spontaneous gesture points to the effort to cast the spirit of Echterdingen as an embracing people's nationalism that included all social classes. Stuttgart's Schwiibischer Merkur took the lead in sponsoring the "Zeppelin-Spende" and the morning after the disaster reported that it had already collected 5,359 marks.
At the same time, the closely examined destruction of Paris seemed to reflect a German fantasy, turned over in the mind's eye again and again. One imagines Martin bent over a map of Paris spread out on his writing desk: ''As the German airships, at an altitude of 1,200 meters, took up an eastward course, the whole of the inner city of Paris was in flames. " 86 Giant Airships and World Politics The defeat of England was less specifically gory, but no less prominent in German air fantasies. It provided the dramatic centerpiece to Martin's novel, to a short story by Graf Bernstorff about an unsuccessful enemy blockade that is clearly meant to be English, and to the dangerous musings of Graf Zeppelin's numerous correspondents.
19 20 A NAT ION 0 F F LIE R 5 Tegel "Prussianism was apparent ... " The newspaperman's point was obvious: the people's nationalism was not the same as Wilhelmine patriotism, but rather more populist, more spontaneous, more valuable; and Graf Zeppelin was not a stand-in for the kaiser, but a popular figure in his own right. Indeed Wilhelm II never attracted the crowds that greeted Zeppelin and was reportedly disturbed by the Graf's sudden stardom. 26 On Berlin's main thoroughfares, Zeppelin pictures and Zeppelin busts peered out of shop windows.
A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination by Peter Fritzsche