The Women Who Flew for Hitler
Clare’s next biography, The Women Who Flew for Hitler, will be published in Britain and the USA in June 2017.
Despite Hitler’s diktats on women’s place being in the home, two fiercely defiant female test pilots were awarded the Iron Cross during the Second World War. Other than this unique distinction, and a passion for flying that bordered on addiction, these women could not have been less alike. Nazi poster-girl Hanna Reitsch, an unsurpassed pilot, is best-known for being the last person to fly into Berlin-under-siege in April 1945, begging Hitler to leave the bunker with her. He refused and killed himself two days later. Brilliant aeronautical engineer and test-pilot Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg was Hanna’s antithesis. Quietly critical of the Nazi regime, she used her value to the Luftwaffe as a means to both pursue her passion for flight, and to protect her wider family. Both women risked their lives to change the history of the Third Reich and their interwoven dramas, touching directly on the British experience, are a powerful forgotten story of conformity and resistance at the heart of the Second World War.