At the end of the First World War, the War to End All Wars, the Germans were prostrate, beaten, enjoined by treaty from the...

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THE RISE OF THE LUFTWAFFE: Forging the Secret German Air Weapon 1918-1940

At the end of the First World War, the War to End All Wars, the Germans were prostrate, beaten, enjoined by treaty from the production of armaments. Yet, as we all know, only twenty years later, Hitler was capable of plunging the world into a military conflict unparalleled in history. How? Mason, zeroing in on the resuscitation of German air power, provides part of the answer in this chronicle of hegemonic politics and clandestine national maneuvering. It was Russia -- Lenin's Russia -- which offered the opening: ""Principles and ideals were shelved for the sake of political and military expediency, and the two natural enemies moved toward rapprochement,"" Germany building her planes there, first training pilots in Dutch-made fighters, later manufacturing the crafts which would shortly blitz the Allies in factories said to be producing baby carriages or washing machines. Disguised as commercial carders (""dragging behind them gaudy banners exhorting Germans to drink Dortmunder Union beer""), the air force was reconstituted, ready for conversion to bomber status in a matter of hours. Ingenious. But flawed. The rise of the hidden Luftwaffe was also a ""stew of inefficiency and unhappiness"" -- Goering muddled, Hitler meddled, and the internecine wrangling among the designers, factotums, and Luftwaffe chiefs ultimately deprived the German air force of final success (just as Nazi racist policies lost the race for the Atom Bomb). Capable, detailed history of Great Power machinations which augments our knowledge of how the German juggernaut came to be and why it failed.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1973