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By Peter Fritzsche

Titanic, fragile airships soaring in an unlimited sky, conflict aces passionate 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 intense idealism of flight and its darker provider in overall struggle come to lifestyles during this ebook approximately Germany's perilous romance with aviation. From the Kaiser's moment Reich to Hitler's 3rd Reich, computing device goals mingled with imperial desires and mastery over the flora and fauna held the promise of mastery over the political international. this can be 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 worldwide battle 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 used to be extra that an exuberant tale of technical accomplishment; it grew to become a gloomy story approximately nationalism and conquest. Even prior to the Nazis, fliers embodied a brand new breed of fellows and ladies who stood able to repair German energy. The booklet concludes with an exploration of the stricken intersection of recent know-how and nationwide Socialism. by means of drawing from a number of deepest files, 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 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 strains 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 notable photo of the German mind's eye in a perilous age of technological fulfillment and nationalist ardour.

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Extra info for A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination

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Predominantly liberal and well-to-do contributors in southwestern Germany were not representative of the nation as a whole. 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.

The terms of engagement were often physical and strenuous. But the ultimate decision, which was the victory of the human spirit over unruly natural elements, was not in dispute. The first decade of the twentieth century was a time when Europeans still happily attached active, heroic verbs to technological undertakings such as the opening of the Panama Canal, the journeys to the North and South Poles, and the electrification of the cities. In this regard, German celebration of the zeppelin was thoroughly conventional.

Dozens of cities throughout southern and western Germany and beyond sponsored civic collections. Even the tiny Hessian village of Haigen earmarked 50 marks for Graf Zeppelin. 19 At first glance the airship appears as iconic of Wilhelmine manners as the infantryman's Pickelhaube, but at the time zeppelin enthusiasm registered how bourgeois and metropolitan Wilhelmine public life had in fact become. By all accounts, Germans gave readily. In Cologne, for example, more than 33,000 marks had been collected by the liberal Kolnische Zeitung at the end of the first day, 6 August.

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