In Germany she is almost an legendary figure; and by any reckoning she is one of the greatest pilots the world has known. Not with regard to Brexit, nor Trump, but rather the importance of the way we consider, and appropriate, the concept of patriotism. Both natural pilots, the women were soon setting numerous records. When she finally seized the chance to fly, a decade after Melitta, she was galvanised mainly by her twin desires for escape and glory. A fanatic herself, Hanna Reitsch was blind to the Nazi misappropriation of patriotism, but Melitta von Stauffenberg was incensed that the concept she held so dear could be evoked to help create a climate that encouraged division, hatred and violence. The construction of engine-powered aircraft was also banned.
Yet while clear as a lofty concept, once shackled to policy in the real world, patriotism can become an emotionally powerful but ambiguous and conveniently pliable tool. Patriotism is claimed, for instance, by both sides of the Brexit debate with their opposing views on where our future lies, and by Trump and his detractors both championing their different visions for what makes America great. Down below were ever more patriotic parades with flags, singing and marching. Hitler flew between rallies, his speeches tending to deal with grievances that were familiar to many working people. Yet it is more than a war-book, for Hanna Reitsch's extraordinary career as a test-pilot was only the most dramatic phase of a life which has been wholly devoted to flying. With her dark hair stuffed into a flying cap, and both hands firmly gripping the control-stick, Melitta was powered into the air by two rows of young men in knitted jerseys pulling rubber tow chords. Author Clare Mulley has written a book about the women Image: Not with regard to Brexit, nor Trump, but rather the importance of the way we consider, and appropriate, the concept of patriotism. Melitta followed the rise of National Socialism from a more sober and critical perspective. Pan Macmillan Patriotism has long been seen as a great unifying force, able to pull a nation of people together in times of crisis. When her brother-in-law, Claus von Stauffenberg, planned to assassinate Hitler, Melitta offered to act as his pilot. Both became brilliant and courageous pilots, motivated by a love of flight and personal freedom, and a belief in the importance of patriotism, honour and duty. Melitta was 17 in when she took her first flight in a fragile wood and canvas glider. Yet she would never critically re-examine her association with the Nazis, nor denounce their criminal policies. This is her own story. Then came the Nuremberg Laws, enshrining racial discrimination into German law. She played an important part in developing the suicidal piloted Vis with which the Nazis at last desperately sought to stave off their inevitable defeat. But as the tide of the war turned, Melitta finally found a way to oppose the regime for the sake of her country. Hanna was just seven-years-old when Melitta took her first flight. She is in a real sense a child ofthe air age, and the sheerjoy of flight, whether in gliders or in powered aircraft, has seldom been so vividly communicated as it is in these pag. It is one of the most illuminating war-books that have come out of Germany, giving as it does an insight into the plans of the Luftwaffe at many stages of the war. She was the woman air ace and test-pilot who flew almost every German military aircraft during the war, from the famous Focke-Wulf to the vicious rocket Me , which shot up to 30, feet in ninety seconds. In she found herself heading up technical research for the Nazi Air War Academy, an extraordinary position for a woman in the Third Reich. Macmillan Read More Unlike Hanna, Melitta now saw a clear distinction between her adored country with its rich cultural heritage, and the so-called Third Reich, whose leaders interpreted dissent as treason. Macmillan Read More At the end of the First World War, under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles the German air force was demobilised and its remaining aircraft destroyed; their wings sawn off, their fuselage crushed. When she finally seized the chance to fly, a decade after Melitta, she was galvanised mainly by her twin desires for escape and glory. Yet, without either woman betraying her convictions, they would end their lives on opposite sides of history.
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