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Review The Imperial German Eagles in World War I

Discussion in 'Reviews , Video Reviews and Open Book' started by sweakley, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. sweakley New Member

    Author: Lance J. Bronnenkant, PhD.
    Publisher: Schiffer Books

    With the release of Volume 3 of this fine series of books, Schiffer Publishing has completed this definitive account of all of the most well known and lesser known series of aviator postcards published in Germany during World War I. Beginning with Volume 1, the publishers began with the most well known and most popular of cards, those printed by W. Sanke during World War 1. Picture postcards were printed in the tens of thousands covering all aspects of the conflict, from depictions of life in the trenches to the dead littering the battlefield to group and individual photos of the troops and the various equipment they used in combat. The main publishing firms (W. Sanke, G. Liersch & Co., and NPG:Neue Photographische Gesellschaft) all published photos and postcards of the war but as the pomp and ceremony of war gave way to the brutality and death of war, the German public grew tired of these images and as sales began to decline they found that public interest in aviation and the pilots themselves increased. One of the main reasons for this was the individuality of the combat. As opposed to the massed armies fighting the war on the ground, these pilots literally were knights of the air where combat was one on one typically which many found to be a more honorable form of warfare. They rode into combat in their motorized steeds, painted in their personal colors and markings and with this the general public was better able to relate to these aviators and their exploits. Also, it didn’t matter which side they fought on, if they were shot down behind enemy lines, they were typically given burial by their foes with full military honors. Added to this the fact that Germany produced some of the greatest aces of the war and the publishers had hit upon a goldmine.

    Vol. 1 is divided up into 4 chapters with Chapter 1 being devoted to Max Immelmann & Oswald Boelcke and Chapter 2 being devoted solely to Baron Von Richtofen. The reason for this was several, first, between these three aviators; almost 80 separate cards were issued by the all the various manufacturers, additionally, Immelmann & Boelcke were the first German aviators awarded the Pour Le Merite and finally, Manfred Von Richtofen, the Red Baron. What else is there to say, probably still the most famous aviator of all time (not including his various encounters with Snoopy). Chapter 3 explains how the creation of the Sanke cards came into being with the emphasis being on the above mentioned aviators and the expansion of the series with other aviators. Sanke would eventually release close to 700 cards by wars end. Chapter 4 deals with the initial set of Sanke cards that began featuring the military aviators beginning with Sanke card S340 featuring Max Immelmann up through S543 Lt. Carl Allmenroder. The photos included in this book are absolutely phenomenal. Besides the various studio photos of all the aviators included up to S543, there are tons of casual photos of the airmen both in the field and in public, group shots, photos of their own aircraft and of their downed foes. In the case of Immelmann, Boelcke and Richtofen, photos of their own crashed planes and the various photos taken at each of their funerals are also included.

    Vol. 2 picks up at Sanke card S544 and runs up to the final card, S685, Leutnant Karl Bolle. Whereas the first volume concentrated mostly upon the three most famous German aviators Max Immelmann, Oswald Boelcke and Manfred Von Richtofen, Volume 2 covers a larger collection of aviators including a large collection of images and several Sanke cards featuring one of history’s more notorious figures, Hermann Goering and Robert Ritter von Greim who would be the last Field Marshal appointed by Adolf Hitler in World War II and Hermann Goering’s succesor as head of the Luftwaffe. As with the first volume, the book is full of both studio and casual photos of the various aviators in both studio and casual single/group shots. Also included are many close up shots of the aviator’s aircraft and in some cases the wreckage after they were shot down and the funeral corteges of several of these pilots. Detailed descriptions are included of each pilot and their deeds which earned them placement on one or more of these cards. Included in this volume are many of the naval aviators who piloted Germany’s zeppelin force during the war. These images are fewer than the regular German army pilots as the zeppelin force constituted a much smaller proportion of Germany’s air force. As with the first volume, there are extensive biographical notes and provide an intimate glimpse into theses individuals lives and in some cases, deaths.

    Vol. 3 concludes this series of books by focusing on the two other main aviator card issuers, G. Liersch & Co., and NPG:Neue Photographische Gesellschaft. Liersch issued a total of 47 aviator images which with a few exceptions, are the same photos issued by Sanke with only the text and bordered overlays being different. Liersch’s main card business had been devoted to Germany’s royal family, the Kaiser, his wife and children and with the advent of World War 1, its expansion to include the top military leaders of both Germany and its allies. Also, line officers eventually became included in their series of cards. But it was the aviators that garnered the most attention and with the signing of the armistice, Liersch once again returned to its roots by issuing cards of what was left of the royal family in exile and the company ceased publishing in the early 1920’s. As with the first two volumes there is a plethora of both posed and casual photos of the various subjects of this volume and a wide ranging array of uniforms for these knights of the air.

    After going through all of these books, the thing that I was struck by the most was the wide range of aviator uniforms displayed, especially the dress uniforms. These books contain pilots wearing uniforms ranging from hussars, uhlans, lancers, naval and a multitude of army uniforms which would keep any modeler/sculptor in our hobby busy for years. This series is the best collection of images of Germany’s World War 1 aviators ever assembled and is a must have for the reference library

    Attached Files:

  2. roadking Active Member

    Thanks for the in depth review. These are great books that I have wanted and your review may have pushed me over the decision line.


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