Sunday, January 29, 2017

Melita von Stauffenberg

I'm preparing my The Freedom Seat: Women in Aviation presentation for February 25... It's quite a challenge condensing over 100 years of history into a 2 hour and 45 minute seminar.

I've been going through newspaper archives on, because I want to be able to share primary sources with my students.

And I was doing this last night and I can't remember now how it happened, but I came across a bit of information on the Countess Melita von Stauffenberg, sister in law of the von Stauffenberg who had tried to assassinate Hitler and had been executed after his failure.

She was also part Jewish, but because she was an excellent pilot, she was not sent away to concentration camps, but rather put to work as a test pilot.  I had never heard of her before, I thought only Hannah Reitsch was permitted to fly as a test pilot during Nazi Germany.

After her brother in law was convicted and executed for trying to assassinate Hitler, her family was sent to concentration camps but she continued to fly. She was loyal to Germany but not to the Nazis...

On 8 April 1945, she was flying a Bucker Bu 181 Besetman trainer to an airfield in southern Germany when she was shot down by an American fighter. She managed to land the plane but died of bullet wounds shortly thereafter.

There are a couple of books about her in German:
Bracke, Gerhard (2012). Melitta Gräfin Stauffenberg: Das Leben einer Fliegerin [Melitta Gräfin Stauffenberg: The life of an aviatrix] (in German). Herbig Verlag

Medicus, Thomas (2013). Melitta von Stauffenberg: Ein deutsches Leben [Melitta von Stauffenberg: A German life] (in German). Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag

and a page at Monash University's website on pioneer pilots:

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