The women who flew for Hitler A true story of soaring ambition and searing rivalry

Clare Mulley

Book - 2017

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York : St. Martin's Press 2017.
Edition
First U.S. edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxiii, 470 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [435]-453) and index.
ISBN
9781250063670
1250063671
Main Author
Clare Mulley (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Biographer Mulley comes through in a major way with this deep dive into the lives of WWII–era German aviatrixes Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg. Their accomplishments are legendary: both were exceptionally experienced test pilots of dozens of gliders and aircraft. Reitsch is notable as the first female helicopter pilot in the world (and first pilot to fly a helicopter indoors), while von Stauffenberg was an aerodynamicist whose work on dive-bombers exceeded every other pilot in the field. Highly decorated by the Luftwaffe for their work, they were also rivals (at least on Reitsch's part) and inexorably caught up in Germany's horrific domestic policies. Mulley's gripping narrative drops readers into the drama of women battling to succeed among men while also coming to terms with their country's roiling politics. Reitsch was a true believer in the Third Reich, while von Stauffenberg's brother-in-law led Operation Valkyrie, the doomed 1944 plot to kill Hitler. Determined to assist the pilots they worked with, Reitsch sought glory and von Stauffenberg, of Jewish heritage, a return to Germany's noble past. Absolutely gripping, Mulley's double portrait is a reminder that there are many more stories to tell from this oft-examined time. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

These days, it can be difficult to remember a time when flight was glamorous. In the 1920s and 1930s, airplanes were for the adventurous. The top perfume for women, En Avion, was inspired by figures such as Amelia Earhart and Hélène Boucher; women ambitious enough to believe in their wildest dreams. In Germany, two of the top female aviators, Melitta von Stauffenberg (1903–45) and Hanna Reitsch (1912–79), were daring test pilots who were awarded the Iron Cross for their service to the Third Reich. While they shared a love of flight and country, their political views and personal choices were entirely different. Melitta supported an attack on Adolf Hitler's life, while Hanna died a Nazi apologist. Historian and biographer Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) sheds light on the story of these two women, contrasting their personalities while also showing the impact that Hitler's rise to power had on their lives. VERDICT This compelling work has the drama and suspense of the best movie scripts. It is the perfect choice for lovers of narrative non-fiction, especially those interested in strong females.—Beth Dalton, Littleton, CO Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A dual biography of the first two women flight captains for the Nazis describes how in spite of Hitler's dictates against women in the military, Aryan poster girl Hanna Reitsch and Jewish aeronautical engineer Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenger served on opposing sides before being awarded the Iron Cross. By the award-winning author of The Woman Who Saved the Children.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Biographers' Club Prize-winner Clare Mulley’s The Women Who Flew for Hitler—a dual biography of Nazi Germany's most highly decorated women pilots.Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg were talented, courageous, and strikingly attractive women who fought convention to make their names in the male-dominated field of flight in 1930s Germany. With the war, both became pioneering test pilots and were awarded the Iron Cross for service to the Third Reich. But they could not have been more different and neither woman had a good word to say for the other.Hanna was middle-class, vivacious, and distinctly Aryan, while the darker, more self-effacing Melitta came from an aristocratic Prussian family. Both were driven by deeply held convictions about honor and patriotism; but ultimately, while Hanna tried to save Hitler’s life, begging him to let her fly him to safety in April 1945, Melitta covertly supported the most famous attempt to assassinate the Führer. Their interwoven lives provide vivid insight into Nazi Germany and its attitudes toward women, class, and race.Acclaimed biographer Clare Mulley gets under the skin of these two distinctive and unconventional women, giving a full—and as yet largely unknown—account of their contrasting yet strangely parallel lives, against a changing backdrop of the 1936 Olympics, the Eastern Front, the Berlin Air Club, and Hitler’s bunker. Told with brio and great narrative flair, The Women Who Flew for Hitler is an extraordinary true story, with all the excitement and color of the best fiction.