From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler's Bunker: The Fantastic Flights of Hanna Reitsch

Dennis Piszkiewicz, Author
Dennis Piszkiewicz, Author Praeger Publishers $34.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-275-95456-7
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""Stratosphere"" was the nickname her classmates in flying school gave to Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979) for her daring and often reckless exploits--caught up in a storm, she flew a glider higher than that plane had ever been flown before. In this fast-paced biography, Piszkiewicz (The Nazi Rocketeers) charts the career of the diminutive (barely five feet tall) pilot who abandoned her medical studies in 1934 to concentrate on training as a pilot. Reitsch rose quickly to become a renowned test pilot and came to the attention of Hitler himself. One of the most dramatic moments in the book occurs when the outspoken Reitsch, at a meeting in Berchtesgaden, openly contradicts the Fuhrer. On another occasion, hearing word of the death camps, she seeks an audience with Reichsfuhrer Himmler and confronts him with the evidence. His prompt denial, however, is forthwith accepted by Reitsch. One drawback of the book is that Reitsch doesn't speak for herself; the author is always her mouthpiece. Yet he effectively demonstrates how Reitsch's life was typical of the near-fanatical, blind acceptance by so many Germans of the Nazi cause. (Dec.)
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