In 1924, at the height of a public defamation campaign blaming German Jews as shirkers and saboteurs in connection with Germany’s defeat in World War One, this book titled Jewish Flyers in the World War (Jüdische Flieger im Weltkrieg) was published in Germany. The cover of the book featured the picture of a pilot seated in a swastika-adorned aircraft. This was not a work of vilification and incitement about Jews and their alleged wartime disloyalty, but a book about the heroism and sacrifice of the Jewish airmen who flew with air services of the German army and navy and who fought for their German homeland. The pilot depicted was a combat proven Jewish infantryman and flyer who used the swastika as good luck symbol and as a personal emblem for his aerial mount, at a time when the swastika had not yet acquired the tragic significance attending it today.
At the war’s outbreak German Jews enlisted for front line service out of a genuine sense of patriotism and concern for the homeland but also in hopes of finally attaining long-denied equality, now that they could demonstrate their loyalty to their country. These hopes were soon shattered. The Jewish Flyers book told the story and related the exploits of an elite group included in the ranks of the German-Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany. It reported the names of more than 120 flyers (i.e. pilots, observers, aerial gunners and flyers of other specialties) who had volunteered for this pioneering and hazardous branch of combat service.
A largely forgotten work since the destruction of German Jewry that culminated in the Holocaust, the Jewish Flyers book is republished in revised and annotated form. This new English edition has adapted a translation by Adam M. Wait (1988) and drawn on dedicated research spanning more than 10 years, to provide readers and researchers alike with a work of vastly expanded scope and detail on German-Jewish flyers in WW1. A comprehensive and updated List appended to the new book duly reports by name well over 200 known German Jewish flyers of WW1 and furnishes details of their military service, lives and fates.
The author of the original book was Dr. Felix A. Theilhaber, who served as a military physician in WW1 and had been decorated with the Iron Cross First Class. The editors, Elimor Makevet and Dieter H. M. Gröschel, M.D., have collaborated on this project since 2005 and have been assisted by many researchers of WW1 aviation history in producing this English edition of the Jewish Flyers book.
The book has been published by Cross & Cockade International, The First World War Aviation Historical Society, a Registered Charity, number 1117741.