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Luftwaffe Autobiographies

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To compliment the 'Luftwaffe Research Resources Page', I thought about starting a thread detailing some of the many published Luftwaffe related autobiographies available.

 

I have read several of these in the course of both general interest and also in the research of Luftwaffe document groupings.  To that end, I thought I would start this thread where contributors can share a brief description of how they found the book, and a few pointers as to whether it is recommended to the wider community or not.  Listing the Publisher and the ISBN will help others locate the book to purchase should they choose.  Of course, some of these will be well known however, others will not.

 

My only suggestion is that the contributors have actually read the book themselves, and hopefully from that a few 'gems' will be uncovered for the 'Wants List'.

 

Regards Richard.

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First off....

 

The 2012 reprint of the classic 'The First And The Last' - Adolf Galland

 

Publisher: lulu.com (9 Feb 2012)

ISBN-10: 1105528693 ISBN-13: 978-1105528699

 

Written by arguably the most instantly recognizable of all Luftwaffe figures, I found this book a fascinating read in particular from the strategic viewpoint of the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe.  Often outspoken and deeply critical of the decisions made effecting the Luftwaffe, I would highly recommend this book as a 'must read'.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Eagles Wings' - Hans-Joachim Herrmann

 

Publisher: Airlife Publishing Ltd (April 1991)

ISBN-10: 1853101613 ISBN-13: 978-1853101618

A fascinating read which encompasses all of Herrmann's Luftwaffe career.  I used this book as extensive source material in researching a KG 4/KG 30 document set and the level of detail is remarkable (it is obvious in reading this book that Herrmann had retained his Flugbücher) in particular the Battle of Britain period.  Another highly recommended book.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'I Flew For The Fuhrer' - Heinz Knoke

 

Publisher: Greenhill Books; Revised edition edition (28 Feb 1997)

ISBN-10: 1853672637 ISBN-13: 978-1853672637

 

Written in the close time frame to the events, and put together almost in diary form, this book is a fascinating account of the air war of the Luftwaffe day fighters struggling to combat the massed bomber fleets of the USAAF.  The descriptions of the ensuing combat are without compare in others I have read.  Again, highly recommended.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Stormbird' - Hermann Buchner

 

Publisher: Crecy Publishing (21 Feb 2009)

ISBN-10: 0859791408 ISBN-13: 978-0859791403

 

Many pick up on the Messerschmitt Me 262 flying element of Buchner's Luftwaffe career however, for myself the relentless activities of his 'Shclachflieger' phase was a riveting read.  Augmented with some excellent previously unpublished private photographs and some excellent colour aircraft profiles.  Highly recommended.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend' - Bert Trautmann

 

Publisher: Yellow Jersey (3 Mar 2011)

ISBN-10: 0224082892 ISBN-13: 978-0224082891

 

I was fascinated by the story of the 'German Goalkeeper' who played in an FA Cup final with a broken neck when I was young, and as years went by and my interest in WWII grew, I discovered he had served as a Fallschirmjäger.  However, I was not until he released his autobiography that his complete story was told, and it is a fascinating journey.  His description of life on the Eastern Front as a young Fallschirmjager was highly readable and the whole book written by a man now woven into FA Cup folklore is well worth a read.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Daedalus Returned' - Baron von der Heydte

 

Publisher: Hutchinson & Co (2001)

ISBN-10: 0971385203 ISBN-13: 978-0971385207

 

Beautifully written (and with continual reference to ancient Greek mythology!) the description of the fighting for Crete is worth the price alone.  There is no doubt that von der Heydte was a man of honour and his strength of character are plain to see on the pages.  Highly recommended reading and possibly the best Fallschirmjäger related autobiography I have read.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'My Logbook' - Gunther Rall

 

Publisher: 296 Editions; First Edition edition (2007)

ISBN-10: 3980793583 ISBN-13: 978-3980793582

 

Written with complete humility and with great clarity of detail, the like of this fighter pilot we will probably never read an autobiography of such quality again.  I cannot recommend his book highly enough, the description of the air battles on the Eastern Front are second to none.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Heaven and Hell' - Martin Poppel

 

Publisher: The History Press (16 Aug 2010)

ISBN-10: 0752458221 ISBN-13: 978-0752458229

 

Another excellent Fallschirmjäger autobiography, the author served in Poland, Norway, Holland, Crete, Russia, Sicily, Italy, France and finally Germany.  A very outspoken account, complete with some interesting opinions on the performance of his counterparts on the battlefield.  Well worth a read.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Enemy in the Dark' - Peter Spoden

 

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 3 edition (2 Jun 2014)

ISBN-10: 1499647107 ISBN-13: 978-1499647105

 

Excellent detailed account of a 'Nachtjager' pilot flying against RAF Bomber Command over the skies of Europe, and also of his life growing up in National Sociialist Germany.  The frustration, horror and futility of his conflict are all readily apparent and this books augments his many TV documentary appearances and interviews.  Recommended reading.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'The Last Chance' - Johannes Steinhoff

 

Publisher: Arrow Bks.; n.e. edition (20 Aug 1979)

ISBN-10: 009920410X ISBN-13: 978-0099204107

 

Not strictly a self written biography of his entire career however, this book does cover a very interesting period in particular the rapid decline of the Luftwaffe and the famous 'showdown' with Hermann Goring.  One of the first Luftwaffe related books I read as a teenager, and still readily available in paperback for a pittance.  Recommended.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Heaven Next Stop' - Gunther Bloemertz

 

Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (Oct 1998)

ISBN-10: 0750920548 ISBN-13: 978-0750920544

 

Another 'Jagdflieger' who flew against the USAAF bomber fleets, although not in the same league as the work of Heinz Knocke I enjoyed this highly readable book very much indeed.  As a point of note, some post-war Luftwaffe enthusiasts have poured scorn as to the accuracy of some of his activity with Jagdgeschwader 26, consequently that has left a negative impression.  That said, for what it is, it is an extremely engaging read (if true that is!)

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Alert in The West' - Willi Heilmann

 

Publisher: Cerberus Publishing Ltd; Reprint edition (Oct 2002)

ISBN-10: 184145026X ISBN-13: 978-1841450261

 

Memoirs of a Jagdgeschwader 54 pilot, written not as a dairy as some others however, written as a series of recollections as a result, this is not one to draw on if you are looking for dates, timings etc of a particular event.  That said it is extremely well written and definitely one to read.  

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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'Heaven Next Stop' - Gunther Bloemertz

 

Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (Oct 1998)

ISBN-10: 0750920548 ISBN-13: 978-0750920544

 

Another 'Jagdflieger' who flew against the USAAF bomber fleets, although not in the same league as the work of Heinz Knocke I enjoyed this highly readable book very much indeed.  As a point of note, some post-war Luftwaffe enthusiasts have poured scorn as to the accuracy of some of his activity with Jagdgeschwader 26, consequently that has left a negative impression.  That said, for what it is, it is an extremely engaging read (if true that is!)

 

I'd have to say that this is one of those autobiographies that needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt. According to Caldwell's JG-26 Diaries, Bloemertz was shot down and badly burned shortly after arriving at JG-26 in 1943 (whereas in the book I believe he states that it was in 1945 - it has been many years since I read this book) and while he rejoined JG-26 after recovery he was too badly injured to ever fly in combat again and spent the rest of the war as an Adjutant. 

As you say, it is a good read but I would say that it needs to be read more as a novel. Good idea for a thread by the way.

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I'd have to say that this is one of those autobiographies that needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt. According to Caldwell's JG-26 Diaries, Bloemertz was shot down and badly burned shortly after arriving at JG-26 in 1943 (whereas in the book I believe he states that it was in 1945 - it has been many years since I read this book) and while he rejoined JG-26 after recovery he was too badly injured to ever fly in combat again and spent the rest of the war as an Adjutant. 

As you say, it is a good read but I would say that it needs to be read more as a novel. Good idea for a thread by the way.

 

Kevin

 

Yes, you are right in that there are certainly a lot of contradictions in this book from sources which have came available since publication.

 

I picked up a copy of this at Duxford years ago (way before I had internet and shelves full of books!) and loved the read oblivious to the actual validity of the content.  

 

Now I would put it in the 'Iron Coffins' bracket, a good read and nothing more.

 

 

Regards Richard.

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Hi Richard,

 

Here's another that I'd recommend:

 

'Luftwaffe Fighter Ace: From the Eastern Front to the Defence of the Homeland'

 

Publisher: Grub Street (2004)

ISBN-10: 1904010946

 

The title is a little misleading, because Norbert Hannig spent the vast majority of his time flying with the II. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 54 on the Eastern Front, and served almost no time 'in defence of the homeland'. A very readable account of a successful Eastern Front fighter pilot. Plenty of aerial combat descriptions, but also plenty of pages devoted to everyday life with his unit. I plan to obtain the original German version at some point as well. Norbert passed away a couple of years ago.

 

Cheers,

Andrew A.

Air War Publications - www.airwarpublications.com/earticles

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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Andrew

 

Many thanks indeed for your input, and yes indeed that is a book which I own however, I am yet to get around to reading it as yet.  It is certainly a highly regarded account.

 

I have atached an image of the cover.

 

 

Regards Richard.

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I enjoyed Enemy In The Dark too. It's a good read and I was fortunate to receive a signed copy directly from Herr Spoden.

 

Luke

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I enjoyed Enemy In The Dark too. It's a good read and I was fortunate to receive a signed copy directly from Herr Spoden.

 

Luke

 

Luke

 

Books that have been autographed by the author are always nice to have in your collection.

 

Any chance that you could show your signed copy on this thread?

 

 

Regards Richard.

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Hi Richard,

 

Here's another that I'd recommend:

 

'Luftwaffe Fighter Ace: From the Eastern Front to the Defence of the Homeland'

 

Publisher: Grub Street (2004)

ISBN-10: 1904010946

 

The title is a little misleading, because Norbert Hannig spent the vast majority of his time flying with the II. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 54 on the Eastern Front, and served almost no time 'in defence of the homeland'. A very readable account of a successful Eastern Front fighter pilot. Plenty of aerial combat descriptions, but also plenty of pages devoted to everyday life with his unit. I plan to obtain the original German version at some point as well. Norbert passed away a couple of years ago.

 

Cheers,

Andrew A.

Air War Publications - www.airwarpublications.com/earticles

 

Hannig's Soldbuch is currently listed on Militaria 321.

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Hannig's Soldbuch is currently listed on Militaria 321.

 

Kevin

 

I will be interested to see the final auction price for Hannig's Soldbuch.  

 

A starting price of 1500 euros is (in my opinion) way too much for what it is when the market has had several DKiG Luftwaffe Soldbucher offered in the last few years for much less than that.

 

 

Regards Richard.

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'Memoirs of a Stuka Pilot' - Helmut Mahlke

 

Publisher: Frontline Books (20 Mar. 2013)

ISBN-10: 1848326645 ISBN-13: 978-1848326644

 

I have only just finished reading this book and I have to say it really is excellent.  Well written and full of interesting photographic images from Helmut Mahlke's albums, this book represents one of the few autobiographies (other than Rudel's) recounting the career of a 'Stuka' pilot that has been published.  The pre-war chapters are worthy of note.

 

Highly readable (far, far superior to Rudel's book) and engaging throughout.  Highly recommended reading.

 

 

Regards Richard.

 

Find on: Amazon (US) - Amazon (UK) - Amazon (DE)

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Luke

 

Excellent to see your signed copy, there is always something nice about having a personalised copy for your bookshelf.

 

As a side note, I have the 2 volume 'Nachtjagd War Diaries' signed by Peter Spoden.

 

 

Regards Richard.

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Hi Luke,

 

Great to see your personalised copy of that book.

 

That are always the special ones.

 

Thanks for showing.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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