Daughters of the Wind: The Interwoven Lives of German Women Pilots in World War II

Hannah and Melita overcame prejudice against women to become Germany’s leading test pilots during the war and won the Iron Cross for their services to the Third Reich. Both share a deep sense of honor and patriotism, but their fates are so different that they disagree with each other’s choices. Finally, in 1945, Hanna begged Hitler to escape from Berlin with her in an attempt to save her life; Melita secretly supported the fuhrer’s assassination plan, and paid the price of blood.
As the only two female test pilots to serve in the Nazi regime, Hannah Reitsch and Melita von Stauffenberg were in many ways almost identical copies of each other, though one was fair, funny, loud and energetic; Another face dark, always serious, all things considered, on the surface, the obvious similarities between the two little – but they are patriotic soldiers, all to the glory and responsibility and dedication with unwavering faith, at the same time they also are not approved by the people, by The Times they are excited about the adrenaline surge of enthusiasm, And their pursuit of personal freedom put them on the wrong side of the social expectations of their time.
Both Hannah and Melita were born in the pioneering days of German aviation, when it was hoped that flying would unite the country. The first World War changed that, and pilots were given new roles in military reconnaissance and combat, but the obsession with flying continued. Pilots pride themselves on their honor and their bravery in the air, and ace pilots, including Manfred von Richthofen, the red Baron, became legends. The Versailles treaty provisions, the defeat of Germany must be dissolved air force and destroyed military aircraft, even the engine driven civil aircraft manufacturing has been temporarily suspended, but the glider is granted, resulting in the postwar years, gliding became very ambitious young people in this country’s iconic sports, the sport is not only represents the peace and freedom. It also carries with it the country’s restored national pride. Soon, thousands of people began to gather for flying demonstrations and competitions.
The Hilschberg Valley is a natural place for gliding, where Melita went to boarding school and Hannah grew up. Both women had learned to glide on the same grassy hillside, and both had leaned out of their wood-and-canvas gliders’ cockpits, to the gasps of their friends. For the 1920s and the 1930s
For young Miss Germany at the beginning of the decade, this would have been unthinkable. Flying is dangerous, and the adrenaline rush is attractive to women, but it’s not just the thrill that makes these two women love flying. It’s the freedom that gliding brings, away from the repression and oppression of Weimar Germany. Flying also gives them a chance to join in the cause of restoring honor to their country.
In 1922 melita, aged nine and more learned, went to study aeronautical engineering at the Technical University of Munich, the heartland of the Nazi movement. As soon as she went out to work, she spent every penny she saved learning to fly an engine-powered airplane. Soon she was getting all kinds of pilot’s licenses. Hannah, meanwhile, was at college, skipping classes to learn how to fly a glider, and soon wowed everyone with her talent. In 1928, Amelia Earhart of the United States amazed the world by becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Two years later, Britain’s Amy Johnson set another record for a woman when she flew solo from England to Australia. It was a glamorous time to fly, and Earhart even made an impact on the fashion world, with perfume “Soaring” making the fashion charts.
Soon, reports of Hanna and Melita were everywhere in German folk magazines, complimenting their beauty as well as their flying skills and “delicate” work in the air.
In the mid-1930s, Hannah and Melita, whose superhuman abilities, courage and perseverance made them invaluable to the newly formed Nazi regime, were both awarded the rank of female captain, the first women ever to do so. Since then they have taken on certain patriotic political missions, such as the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics in which both women pilots performed aerobatics, and Melita performed aerobatics at the prestigious German Flying Day. Two years later, Hannah was the first woman to fly a helicopter in an indoor air show at the Berlin Motor Show, wowing audiences from around the world.
In 1939, war came again, and both women pilots decided to join the Germans. Their love of their country and their love of flying was tested in the tiny cockpit. Hanna had flown a number of glider prototypes and approved the design and manufacture of the first German aircraft parts, including the wing shield, which allowed the aircraft to pass between the cables of an anti-aircraft balloon. In 1941, she became the first woman of the war to receive the Iron Cross. Less than two years later, Melita received the same Iron Cross for her pioneering work in the development and test flight of the Junker-87 Stuka dive bomber. Although they, as women, never formally joined the Luftwaffe, the duo have since devoted their flying careers to advancing the Nazi frontier of military aviation.
Hannah and Melita, who had risked their lives in battle for their country as pilots, were especially proud of their MEDALS. Although they had made great contributions to Nazi Germany during the war, but the attitude of the two people to the motherland and the Nazi regime is very different: Hanna thinks that the motherland is really full of vitality, she fought for the honor of the motherland, which she is proud of; Melita was more cautious, in the traditionally conservative Germany that had been her home, fighting for its survival not only against allied attacks but also against a tyrannical Nazi regime. Although they frequently flew in the same airspace and were both regular members of the Berlin Flying Club, the two women avoided, ignored, and even belittled each other throughout the war. Their very different political views not only kept them at a distance, but they also made very different choices in establishing contact with the highest levels of Nazi Germany.
After World War II, Hanna became a household name in Germany and was the subject of numerous international books and films, albeit with mixed histories. Under the interrogation pressure of the Americans, she was forced to change her original values frequently, but she always firmly believed that honesty was the foundation of her life, and launched a campaign declaring that she wanted to restore the historical truth. “The harsh truth must be told, no matter how hard it is to accept,” she enthused to an interviewer. “It is essential for all humanity.” She eventually published several memoirs, each describing her as a pilot, an apolitical patriot. She once said it was easy to write “because I just had to tell the truth and tell what was on my mind”. But a former friend, British pilot Eric Brown, said Hannah had told “a few words of truth” at best. She never commented on the evil policies and criminal facts of the Nazi regime, nor did she explain her relationship with it.
Melita, on the other hand, seems to have disappeared from the historical record. In the mid-1970s, her two sisters, Clara and Utta, began collecting stories and memories of Melita from her friends and colleagues. Hannah was quick to reply: “Melita has no outstanding achievements.” She wrote this in a letter to Clara when she heard that someone might be planning a biography of Melita. Hannah added that Melita’s Iron Cross was “not justly earned,” that her flight was “not even close to dangerous,” and that her ambition was “not a normal ambition, but a temptation, probably born of some deep despair.” “It would be better if you came over and we said it in person, because some things hurt more in writing than they do in person.” Hannah continued. Whether pressed by epistolary protocol or worried about leaving evidence in black and white, Hannah’s letter was not clear about what she wanted to say, but it still made an affectation of accusing Melita. “Would it not be too much to write all the details of what really happened, which were known only to a few? But sooner or later lies will be found out, “she wrote.” I’m sure you’ll understand me correctly. I wanted to protect you and Melita’s memory.”
Clara wrote back to thank Hannah for explaining her thoughts and intentions “so sincerely.” “Of course, we will accept all historical events as they are,” Clara tactfully concluded her reply, “and I think you would like to see them as well — to discover the truth.”