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Another Book For My WWI Aviation Library

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Greetings All,

 

I purchased another old WWI aviation book that was for sale online this weekend. It is "Stepchild Pilot", and is the memoirs of German pilot Joseph Doerflinger. First published in 1959, (and apparently the ONLY published edition of this work), it tells of his being drafted into the German Army, his days in the trenches, and his later transfer to the Air Service, where he flew with several Jastas, including MvR's. After the war he worked as an instructor for the French Air Service, and in the 1920's moved to the U.S. where he became a commercial airline pilot. While doing some research on him I came across his obituary, dated October 23, 1970:

 

 

 

DoerflingerObit.jpg

 

 

I also ran across one of Bob Pearson's profiles showing Joseph's D.VII in Jasta 64:

 

Joseph_Doerflinger_DVII_1.jpg

 

 

I am really looking forward to the arrival of this book, and am betting it will be a very interesting read. There are so few books printed in English that give firsthand WWI pilot accounts from the German perspective.

 

Cheers!

 

Lou

 

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Congrats on your find, Lou!

I suppose you know Julius Buckler's "Malaula! The battle cry of Jasta 17" - a great read by a sympathic pilot.

Made me join Jasta 17 immediately!

 

 

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.

 

Greetings All,

 

I purchased another old WWI aviation book that was for sale online this weekend. It is "Stepchild Pilot", and is the memoirs of German pilot Joseph Doerflinger. First published in 1959, (and apparently the ONLY published edition of this work), it tells of his being drafted into the German Army, his days in the trenches, and his later transfer to the Air Service, where he flew with several Jastas, including MvR's. After the war he worked as an instructor for the French Air Service, and in the 1920's moved to the U.S. where he became a commercial airline pilot. While doing some research on him I came across his obituary, dated October 23, 1970:

 

 

 

DoerflingerObit.jpg

 

 

I also ran across one of Bob Pearson's profiles showing Joseph's D.VII in Jasta 64:

 

post-45680-044935500 1283178028.jpg

 

 

I am really looking forward to the arrival of this book, and am betting it will be a very interesting read. There are so few books printed in English that give firsthand WWI pilot accounts from the German perspective.

 

Cheers!

 

Lou

 

.

 

Lou,

When it arrives, please let me know if there is a photo of him!

Cheers,

shred

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A great find, Lou.

 

There's quite a lot of literature published in Germany between the world wars that was never translated into English, or any other languages, pilot memoirs included. If one can understand German, there are many interesting finds to be made in stores that also sell old books. But one must be careful with the stuff first printed in the Third Reich - their propaganda can sometimes be quite subtle.

 

It's fortunate that Finland maintained such close ties with Germany after WW1. Nowadays people usually learn English as their first foreign language, but back then German was the most important foreign language here (with Swedish). This means that a lot of interesting and old German books are available here. I've been able to make some great purchases at reasonable prices over the years. My latest find was a relatively well-preserved copy of Feldmarschall Hindenburg's (yes, that jolly Prussian of WW1 fame) memoirs, printed in the 1920s. Currently I'm looking for a good and affordable copy of Wilhelm II's memoir.

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Nice find, Lou. I'm looking foward to hearing from you about a book about the air war written by someone from a German perspective.

 

Isn't it fascinating that after the war he served as an instructor in the French Air Service? I wonder what the circumstances were behind that and if he experienced any difficulties coming from the "other side" in the Great War?

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HPW: I wonder what the circumstances were behind that and if he experienced any difficulties

coming from the "other side" in the Great War?

 

From the film clips of meetings of the Battle of Britain veterans I believe to have seen, that the

German and British pilots talked in the deepest respect for each other. And why not?

Hadn't they experienced the same hell? And hadn't they seen, how good the other side tried

to do their duties?

I think, in a fight you can learn to esteem your combatant; and realise: he is your opponent,

but not necessarily your enemy.

Edited by Olham

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...

 

But one must be careful with the stuff first printed in the Third Reich - their propaganda can sometimes be quite subtle.

 

....

 

A very good point.

 

One must be very mindful of bias. I'm reading, or rather re-reading, Ira Jones' account of Mannock's career. In contrast to when I first read it I'm finding some of the disparaging remarks about the courage and tactics of the German pilots actually quite offensive.

 

A key stregth of this community is a maturity in response, so that even if a body might post a polarised statement, it will generally be responded too in an erudite and non-judgemental manner.

 

I'm therefore grateful to all who post here for aiding in broadening my perspective. Thank you.

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In general, Olham, I agree with you: the bond of soldiers can be quite strong--even former enemies. I'm sure that Bullethead would attest to that.

 

OTOH, I'm not sure if the experiences of WWII pilots forty or fifty years after the war necessarily equates with those of WWI pilots five or ten years after the war. Also, most WWII veterans now recognize that most German pilots were merely soldiers in a war started by an evil political regime. Although a few were dedicated Nazis, as you know, most were only doing their duty and had no choice in the matter, so may be more easily forgiven. WWI pilots after the war may not have been able to seperate their own political ideology from that of their former leaders as easily as their later WWII comrades could.

 

Here in the USA, I used to recall hearing from some old vets of WWII that they would never buy a Japenese car because of what they experienced in the war.

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Both sides then had different views and attitudes about their own countrymen, and the enemies.

Surely more naive, cause without far less information and knowledge about each other.

 

Nowadays, we travel to those other countries and learn to know the "foreigners" as people not

too different to our own. I'm sure that, when we read books from those old days, we will read them

with all this in mind and forgive the authors for some of their prejudices. Could they live once again

today, I'm sure, that many of them would recognise it, too.

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One must be very mindful of bias. I'm reading, or rather re-reading, Ira Jones' account of Mannock's career. In contrast to when I first read it I'm finding some of the disparaging remarks about the courage and tactics of the German pilots actually quite offensive.

 

 

Yeah. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes you won't even notice it and may accept things the writer tells you without even realizing it's BS. That's why people should read not only one book with a one view, but as many books as possible about a subject, so that a more objective picture can be formed. Usually the "worst" books to read are memoirs, if one is looking for an objective account of what happened back then.

 

For example the Hindenburg memoirs I recently read: he doesn't talk too much about German losses and defeats, only what is enough to explain the events he lived through. Now we all know, and have known for a long time, that Germany was on the brink of complete collapse in November 1918 when the armistice came. Her armies in the west had been beaten and were retreating towards the Reich. It was not a complete rout like in 1945, but they were beaten nevertheless. And the military high command knew it well. General Ludendorff, Hindenburg's right hand man, was actually hospitalized after he suffered a nervous breakdown. Ludendorff just couldn't handle the thought that despite every brilliant operation he had tried, the war was lost. (He also lost his son in battle.) But none of this can be read from the memoirs. Instead you get the idea that cowardly politicians and socialists stabbed the German army in the back and that the soldiers were never defeated. And this is exactly what Hitler and the Nazis kept telling the German people years later. Hindenburg was a civilized man and certainly not a Nazi (he despised Hitler), but even he couldn't admit the facts publically.

 

Therefore one must be very careful when reading memoirs and not let them be the only sources of a person's understanding of history. With this kept in mind, memoirs make for good reading. Except the boring ones of course. :cool:

 

I'm therefore grateful to all who post here for aiding in broadening my perspective. Thank you.

 

My thoughts exactly.

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HW,

 

I was recently reading about the end of WWI and had an interesting thought: what might have happened had Hitler not been gassed and missed the end of the war in hospital? I can't recall the exact date when he was gassed, but I know that he was still in hospital at the end of the war. It must have been quite a shock for him to hear of the German surrender. In contrast to his mates in the front line units, the last experience he had of the war was most likely during the spring offensives, when the Germans for a time looked like they might actually win the war. Not surprising he was so ready to accept and propogate the "stab in the back" theory.

 

Still, Hitler being Hitler, it probably wouldn't have made too much of a difference.

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I just looked it up, and it turns out Hitler was gassed in mid October 1918, so the writing was on the wall, so to speak.

 

Apparently, Hitler was a very good soldier, although considered even then to be somewhat strange by his fellow soldiers. Although decorated several times, he refused leave and never applied for promotion. If still in the front lines at the end of the war, I'm sure he would have been one of the last to have wanted the war to end.

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Hitler was not the only one who started that second world war.

The victors of WW1 had put very drastic and irrational reparation payments on Germany;

that is meanwhile admitted by historians from all nations. And the "upper 10.000", mainly

the "industrial barons", helped Hitler and the Nazis to get to power.

They would have never got there without this strong support.

 

And Hitler was not the only man, who did the Holocaust. That was a nation of followers,

bureaucrats and civil cervants and military men, who hadn't learnt anything else from

their parents but to obey and to follow. Many were courageous in the battle fields, but

also too many did not show enough civil courage.

I hope, that we live in an age of enlightenment - and that those dark ages will never

happen again.

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.

 

Olham, I hope the same thing as well Sir.

 

As to propaganda in literature and it being used by those in charge to sway the masses, that has been there since the first words were written I'm afraid. I've noticed in my readings over the years that you will tend to get a much more accurate picture of how people felt if you look to the personal accounts and firsthand narratives written at the time than you will ever find in works written after the fact by others. In our particular area of interest you can get into the minds of the pilots and appreciate what they endured by reading their diaries and letters home, which is why I am always on the lookout for such works. This is not to say that these writings don't have their own slant, (they do), but when you move to the books written by others after the war you have to be 1000 times more careful to keep them in context to the time they were penned as they are often quite colored by events of the day. I've read several of the larger works outlining WWI that were written from the Allied viewpoint immediately following the war, and they all have a very obvious bias, thought some try to be more even-handed than others. The oft-cited "War in the Air", by Raleigh and Jones, while being the greatest single work covering the British Air Service in the Great War, also handles it's subject matter in a very unbiased fashion, all things considered. Olham, you mention Julius Buckler's book. I don't yet own that one but I've read passages from it and his personal accounts are wonderful. However, that is a good example of a work you have to read with the understanding that it was published in 1939 with a very definite ulterior motive. "Max Immelmann: The Eagle Of Lille", written by his brother Franz and released in 1935 is another such work, and even though it has obvious political leanings they detract in no way from Max's personal notes and letters home. You just need to read around some of the comments made by his brother and remember the political climate of the day.

 

shredward, I will be sure and post a photo of Joseph if there happens to be one in the book.

 

Hasse Wind, I wish I could read German, (and French, and Russian, and...). I would dearly love to be able to study the accounts written by the pilots of all the countries who fought in that epic and horrific conflict.

 

Herr Prop-Wasche, I am hoping Joseph touches on that very issue in this book.

 

Dej, I agree entirely with your point about this community being very mature in it's responses and observations to what can oft-times be very touchy subject matter. It makes for much more enjoyable and enlightening discussions.

 

 

Cheers!

 

Lou

 

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Lou, it's never too late to learn new languages. It's easiest to do when you're a child, but not at all impossible even much, much later. You don't have to be a linguistic genius to develop a good enough understanding of the German language, for example - reading is always easier than having to speak the foreign language. I can read and understand German quite well, and with the help of a good dictionary even the most obscure of words (and there are many of those in old German books!) are not major obstacles to understanding the text. Speaking the language is always much harder, and sadly my skills have badly deteriorated over the years, due to lack of active use in conversation.

 

Probably the biggest obstacle for people used to the Antiqua or Roman typeface (now the dominant type in the whole world) is the German Fraktur (or Gothic) script quite commonly used in German books and papers as late as the 1940s. It can be really hard to read at first. Hitler actually disliked the Gothic script and ordered it to be replaced completely with the Roman script - this decision hastened the script's demise in the German-speaking world.

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Lou, with Buckler's book, I didn't find there was any propaganda. The only bit, were he brings up

a personal reason/excuse for anti-Jewish emotions on him, did probably happen that way, and

only here, I felt, that he took cover behind his personal reasons in the face of what happened in

the "Reichskristallnacht". I got the feeling though, that he was qite an honest and nice bloke.

 

He tells his story from his childhood years (in poverty) over the learning years ( as a roofer) to

his flying school and throughout the war until the end.

At the end, again his book is of course Nazi-coloured, when he describes the uprise of the Navy

and the Soldatenrat as a mutiny of people, who appeared of questionable morale.

 

But apart from that, it was a very informative and as pleasant read as Udet's book.

The English version is edited by Norman Franks, by the way.

Edited by Olham

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.

 

Olham, I apologize if my point about Buckler's book was vague. I wasn't saying that he had an ulterior motive for writing his story, but rather the powers in charge at that time pushed to have the story published in order to whip up excitement and patriotism in the young men of Germany so that they would sign up for service in the Luftwaffe. From the excerpts I've read he seems to relate his story very well and without too much political rhetoric, (as much as that is possible for any of us to do).

 

Hasse Wind, I agree, it's never too late to learn something new. I do muddle my way through short written passages in German and French, but it takes me a looooong time to do so, and I am sure I am missing a lot of the subtlety and nuance intended by the author. But hey, I'll keep plugging away at it. :smile:

 

Cheers!

 

Lou

 

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Lou, if you ever come across German text bits, that don't make sense to you,

feel free to send me a message - I'll do my best to translate them for you.

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.

 

My latest addition arrived in the post today at lunchtime:

 

stepchild_pilot_1.jpg

 

I was more than pleased to discover that it is in it's original dust jacket and the entire volume is in near-perfect condition. From the looks of the inner binding it has never even been read, (which I find a pity actually). Another treat awaited me when I opened it:

 

stepchild_pilot_2.jpg

 

It is a signed copy! The sale listing did not mention this fact or the near-mint dust jacket, which makes the price I paid for this book ridiculously cheap.

 

shredward, since you asked Sir, apart from the above photo of the author in 1959, here is another of him during his flight training:

 

stepchild_pilot_3.jpg

 

 

I am truly looking forward to sitting down this weekend and reading Joseph Doeflinger's recollections.

 

Cheers!

 

Lou

 

.

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Sometimes items like this seem to find their right owner - congratulations, Lou!

And even with a signature - you lucky man!

I have got a book about Eduard Ritter von Schleich recently, but it is not written by himself.

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Excellent find, Lou. And as Olham says, a deserving recipient :grin:

 

The nearest I can manage is a copy (rather more dilapidated) of Lanoe Hawker's biography, signed by his brother... only a second edition too, alas

Edited by Dej

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.My latest addition arrived in the post today at lunchtime:

I was more than pleased to discover that it is in it's original dust jacket and the entire volume is in near-perfect condition. From the looks of the inner binding it has never even been read, (which I find a pity actually). Another treat awaited me when I opened it:

It is a signed copy! The sale listing did not mention this fact or the near-mint dust jacket, which makes the price I paid for this book ridiculously cheap.

shredward, since you asked Sir, apart from the above photo of the author in 1959, here is another of him during his flight training:

I am truly looking forward to sitting down this weekend and reading Joseph Doeflinger's recollections.

Cheers!

Lou

 

Thanks Lou,

We will bring him out of the shadows and he will once again fly Over Flanders Fields.

 

:salute: Joseph Doerflinger

 

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If you want to add a picture of him to OFF, here is a pilot pic I made of Lou's posted picture

in Photoshop. It has the right size: 72 dpi; 113 x 137 Pixel.

 

 

 

I think, the second attempt got better:

 

 

Edited by Olham

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