The German Aces Speak — book review
German Aces Speak (The): World War II through the eyes of four of the Luftwaffe’s most important commanders, Colin D. Heaton, and Anne-Marie Lewis, 2011, ISBN 978-0-7603-4115-5, 354 pp.
As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press has provided a copy of this book to read and provide an objective review. No compensation has been offered, expected or requested — nor is compensation accepted.
This is a book about four Luftwaffe pilots who fought in the air war over Europe, including Russia east of the Ural Mountains, during WW II and it should be read for the most important of reasons:
- It is written well
- It contains the collections and thinking of significant Luftwaffe fighter pilots — in their words
- It helps us to understand the thinking of warriors continuing to fight a war that is known to be lost, and why warriors should be honored for performing their duties
- It provides insightful context regarding the development of the Messerschmitt Me 262 Swalbe as well as the world’s first night fighters, not simply the facts, as well as that of Hermann Göring
The authors are historians as well as experienced authors. The four aces of the book speak German and the authors took great pains to accurately translate their words, often going back and forth with persons interviewed to ensure the most accurate translation. This book is about precision, as a result, making this an excellent reference book — with a thorough index, of course with a work of this caliber.
The Aces Who Speak
Walter Krupinski flew the majority of his WW II career in the Russian campaigns. Known as a great leader and teacher he had Erich Hartmann for a wingman.
Adolf Galland was the brilliant leader of the Luftwaffe Fighter Corps. Often battling with his superiors. His strategic mind is clear, concise and looking far ahead of the times.
Eduard Neumann did not score a large number of aerial victories but was another of the Luftwaffe’s influential leaders. Flying in the Spanish Civil War as well as Europe and North Africa during WW II, he was one of the instrumental leaders of the Fighter’s Revolt against Hermann Göring. Reading of the inner workings of this revolt is fascinating.
Wolfgang Falck explains the trial of initiating aerial interceptions in the night as well as low visibility — soon to be followed by the Allies
Throughout the book the thinking of these men is easily related. Why they continued to fight after the war was lost. How they thought of and dealt with both Hitler and Göring. The strategies used.
Göring was a terrible and narcissistic leader who progressively lost the faith of Hitler. How the Me 262 was like to fly. How the highly disciplined Luftwaffe leadership ultimately stood up to Göring and the harsh repercussions of the Fighter’s Revolt.
There is much more to this book. Descriptions of the defensive fire from American bombers being highly effective as well as many stories of rescue, victories and odd events (like the pilot who bailed out of his burning fighter to land uninjured in the backyard of his mother’s house).
The book also has a roster of Luftwaffe fighter pilots in WW II by fighter unit. Underscoring the significance of this book are the prefaces written by two of the best fighter pilots of the war, Robin Olds and Kurt Schulze.