A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular by Peter Fritzsche

By Peter Fritzsche

Tremendous, fragile airships soaring in an enormous sky, warfare aces passionate about demise 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 carrier in overall battle come to lifestyles during this booklet approximately Germany's perilous romance with aviation. From the Kaiser's moment Reich to Hitler's 3rd Reich, laptop goals mingled with imperial desires and mastery over the flora and fauna held the promise of mastery over the political global. this can be well known 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 worldwide warfare I, and eventually to the worldwide succeed in of airplanes within the Nineteen 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 turned a gloomy story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even sooner than the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of fellows and ladies who stood able to repair German strength. The booklet concludes with an exploration of the intersection of recent expertise and nationwide Socialism. by way of drawing from a number of deepest 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 by way of interpreting 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 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 remarkable photo of the German mind's eye in a deadly age of technological success and nationalist ardour.

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A minute later, the immense block housing the War Ministry, from the Boulevard St. Germain to the Rue St. Dominique, lay in ruins. The airships move across the Seine toward the Place de l'Opera. Moments later, "most of the French infantry was lying bleeding on the street. " Place de l'Opera, Palais d'Elysee, Boulevard St. Germain 23 I-this sort of detail accented Martin's immense confidence in the technical precision and overwhelming power of the zeppelins. They were truly Wunderwaffen, wonder weapons.

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. They indicated that Germany's divisive class differences could be bridged and thus suggested a new social quality to the nation. Despite the disdain of Germany's leading socialist newspaper, Vorwarts, which found the "fever of contribution" after Echterdingen "laughable" and remarked that German militarism would make sure the zeppelin project survived even without public subscription, there is considerable evidence pointing to working-class support for the airship, especially in southwestern Germany.

They indicated that Germany's divisive class differences could be bridged and thus suggested a new social quality to the nation. Despite the disdain of Germany's leading socialist newspaper, Vorwarts, which found the "fever of contribution" after Echterdingen "laughable" and remarked that German militarism would make sure the zeppelin project survived even without public subscription, there is considerable evidence pointing to working-class support for the airship, especially in southwestern Germany.

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