By Peter Fritzsche
Tremendous, fragile airships soaring in an unlimited sky, warfare aces keen about dying 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 warfare come to lifestyles during this publication approximately Germany's perilous romance with aviation. From the Kaiser's moment Reich to Hitler's 3rd Reich, computer goals mingled with imperial desires and mastery over the wildlife held the promise of mastery over the political international. this is often well known 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 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 grew to become a dismal story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even earlier than the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of fellows and ladies who stood able to fix German strength. The ebook concludes with an exploration of the stricken intersection of contemporary know-how and nationwide Socialism. by means of drawing from a number of deepest 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 way of reading 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 amazing 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
Its "marvel" drew out and seized the crowds. " 35 The zeppelin's languorous speed-five to ten seconds passed before it made up its own length-did not detract from but enhanced the sense of its power. " 36 Unchecked, purposeful pace seemed naturally to accompany dominion. Hugo Eckener, in 1 goo a skeptical reporter of the first airship ascents for the Frankfurter Zeitung but by Ig08 a close advisor to Graf Zeppelin, remembered the queer fascination with the zeppelin: 37 It was not, as generally described, a "silver bird soaring in majestic flight," but rather a fabulous silvery fish, floating quietly in the ocean of air and captivating the eye just like a fantastic, exotic fish seen in an aquarium.
To understand Wilhelmine Germany's "zeppelin cult," Bernd Jiirgen Warneken reminds historians of the "divided loyalties" of many workers. Workers felt allegiance to a Social Democratic subculture, as has been expertly documented, but also to the nation, a bond that is often overlooked. Like the integrating nationalism of August 1914, the popular patriotism behind the German zeppelin, Warneken postulates, resolved this conflict. It did not compel workers to abandon their political identity as socialists.
Already in his earliest reports, Graf Zeppelin promised his patrons unprecedented global mobility. Again and again, Zeppelin raised the possibility of exploring the polar regions and the African interior and linking far-flung colonial outposts. His examples, drawn halfway across the globe from Germany, are explicit references to the geography of European imperial rivalry at the time (Africa, China, the race to the North and South Poles). In a speech to scientists in 1908, the Graf maintained that his airships could operate within a radius of 850 kilometers.