The Women Who Flew for Hitler: The True Story of Hitler’s Valkyries by Clare Mulley - review by Leo McKinstry

Leo McKinstry

High Achievers

The Women Who Flew for Hitler: The True Story of Hitler’s Valkyries

By

Macmillan 470pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Few modern historical subjects have been more exhaustively covered than air power in the Second World War. In the quest to find a new angle, a number of authors have focused on the female pilots who fought in the conflict, such as the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary who ferried planes for the RAF or the Russian fighter crews whose defence of their motherland was extolled in Soviet propaganda.

Now Clare Mulley has produced a superb and highly original addition to this field with her joint biography of two renowned German airwomen employed in the service of the Nazi regime. This book could have become merely a tokenistic study. After all, neither Hanna Reitsch nor Countess Melitta von Stauffenberg actually flew on combat missions during the war. In fact, they were not even members of the Luftwaffe, which banned women from fighting on the front line. Instead they worked mainly as test pilots.

But the magnificent sweep of the book dispels any such doubts. Beautifully written, well paced and full of drama, it weaves together the stories of the two women. Their tales enable Mulley to consider the vast panorama of military developments in the skies over Europe from the Versailles Treaty to

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