Book Review – The Women Who Flew for Hitler
Rating – Five Stars
Mulley has penned a dynamite narrative. A page-turner par excellence. It’s superbly written and an easy and engrossing read. She pens an incisive narrative of political Germany post-Treaty-of-Versailles. She couches her narrative in the biographiesof female test pilots Hanna Reitschand Melitta (nee Schiller) von Stauffenberg. Mulley guides us through the inter-war years: the Weimar Republic, the rise of the National Socialist Party (Adolph Hitler, HeinrichHimmler, Herman Goering, et al.), World War II, collapse of the Third Reich, and beyond
We are introduced to Hanna Reitsch, glider champion, test pilot extraordinaire, avid defender of the Fatherland, National Socialism adherent, and friend and confidant of Nazi leadership including Adolph Hitler.
Melitta (nee Schiller) von Stauffenberg was the daughter of a Jewish father, devoted to and protector of her extended family, a PhD aeronautical engineer, consummate test pilot, ardent defender of the Fatherland, and, sub rosa, an anti-Nazi.
Suffused throughout the narrative are key elements of the womens’ aviation accomplishments, political beliefs, support of the Third Reich, and important associates and friends (especially Reitsch’s). I’ll not review the details to keep this review from becoming a substantial spoiler.
Nonetheless, do you recognize the family name “von Stauffenberg”? Graf Schenk Claus von Stauffenberg is, perhaps, the most important character in this narrative. Claus was the brother of Melitta’s husband Alexander (Alex).
Operation Valkyrie. On 20 July 1944 Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg entered Hitler’s bunker, dubbed “The Wolf’s Lair,” deep in the forest of East Prussia. Claus placed his bomb-loaded briefcase under the oak table and next to Adolph Hitler. He left the room to answer a conspirator’s telephone call. The explosion killed four, but amazingly only wounded Hitler superficially. There’s more to this story in Mulley’s book.
Point: The book has no map, a critical gaffe. I recommend that you use a map of pre-war Germany to follow coherently the numerous locations mentioned—essential to fully appreciate the scope of the narrative.