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

By Peter Fritzsche

Immense, fragile airships soaring in an enormous sky, struggle aces captivated with loss of life 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 provider in overall struggle come to existence during this publication approximately Germany's perilous romance with aviation. From the Kaiser's moment Reich to Hitler's 3rd Reich, laptop goals mingled with imperial goals and mastery over the wildlife held the promise of mastery over the political international. this can be well known historical past 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 struggle I, and at last 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 was once extra that an exuberant tale of technical accomplishment; it grew to become a depressing story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even earlier than the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of guys and ladies who stood able to restoration German energy. The ebook concludes with an exploration of the bothered intersection of recent know-how and nationwide Socialism. through drawing from various 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 through 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 extraordinary photograph of the German mind's eye in a perilous age of technological success and nationalist ardour.

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The zeppelin should "drop something on the head" of whoever "scolds Germany," the lyrics concluded. 83 Fantastical forecasts of how the zeppelin would reorder great-power politics circulated widely in the popular press as well as in popular song. Rudolf Martin, a government councillor and a prolific essayist, published a wide array of promotional articles in influential journals. Even before the triumphant flight to Mainz in August 1908 or the appearance of the German translation of H. G. Wells's hugely successful War in the Air the next year, Martin was fighting the next European war with imaginary zeppelins.

The material, over which he triumphed, knew how to honor him: there is no other way to describe it. Of course, Hofmannsthal beheld the dramatic suitability of Echterdingen in hindsight, after the airship had been destroyed and the public subscription launched. But he drew attention to the ways in which accidents were comprehended and invested with meaning. Echterdingen was not only seen as part of a strenuous struggle that would eventually be won; the disaster itself identified the (difficult) road to progress.

Germans want to feel "self-reliant" in their patriotic activity, the editors concluded. " What did Graf Zeppelin need experts for, after seeing his plans rejected by technical commissions in 1894, in 1900, and again in 1905, the Konstanzer Zeitung asked incredulously. " On this point there was unanimity: nothing should obstruct the people's wish to fund the zeppelins without conditions. 70 Once Graf Zeppelin incorporated the airship works in Friedrichshafen, talk of an experts' Kuratorium ended abruptly.

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