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Jacket text to the original US (Little Brown & Co) edition of David Irving: The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe
Jacket of new edition (click to enlarge)
"Here was a man like me, who just did not know the word 'impossible."'

-- Hitler, speaking of Erhard Milch


ERHARD Milch: airman, airline tycoon, senior field marshal after Göring of the Luftwaffe, and finally prisoner of war. The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe traces the career of the brilliant, aggressive creator of Germany's air force in World War II.

A fighter-squadron commander during World War I, Milch became at age thirty-three one of the directors of Germany's newly formed state airline, Lufthansa. "If you like to think of me as having once been energetic," he advised friends and enemies alike, "I suggest you now add the word 'ruthless' -- or multiply by it, whatever is easier by your slide-rule." Milch's dynamism and superb organizational skills, characterized by Time magazine as being similar to those of "an able and energetic U.S. businessman," rescued the faltering Lufthansa and attracted the attention of Göring and Hitler.

In 1933 Milch was named Göring's State Secretary for Air and from that post, he engineered the emergence in 1939 of Hitler's Germany -- forbidden any military aircraft whatever by the Treaty of Versailles -- as the strongest air power in the world. But talent of Milch's caliber proved to be rare; Göring's poor leadership and the weakness of the Minister in Charge of Armaments, Ernst Udet, had crippled the technical arm of the Luftwaffe by corruption and incompetence. German air strength dwindled, and like so much of Hitler's Wehrmacht, the air force became a bureaucratic nightmare. Even Milch's remarkable wartime achievements -- he more than tripled aircraft production despite limited resources and crushing Allied air attacks -- could not forestall the Luftwaffe's ignominious collapse.

Using the extensive notebooks and diaries that Milch kept throughout his career, David Irving describes the field marshal's rise and his later uneasy relationships with Speer, Göring and Hitler as jealousies and brazen grabs for power (to which Milch eventually fell victim) erupted openly. Yet even in disgrace, even after his sentence to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg trials, Milch, who never read past page twenty of Mein Kampf, remained as intensely loyal as the day he had declared of Hitler: "Even if he commanded me to walk across the waves to him, I would unhesitatingly obey."

 Printed in the USA by Little Brown & Co

Index to Hermann Göring
© Focal Point 2004