A Wing and a Prayer

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Chapter 3

At an airshow near Bremen in 1935, a thirteen year old boy and his father watched in awe of the new generation of Luftwaffe aircraft as they were paraded in front of an expectant and, once again proud, German people. The boys father told him that these were the men and machines that would make Germany great again and that he would grow up in a prosperous new age. All the young boy was really interested in was how fast the ’planes flew, what their engines were and who were the men who flew them. He shaded his eyes with his hand as he watched bi-planes perform stunts, rolls and loops and wished that he could be up there too. Thirteen year old Jorgen Klein knew he wanted to be a pilot from that day on. The airfield and the surrounding buildings that was smothered with all sorts of National Socialist Party livery was lost on Klein at this time, as the aircraft took his full attention. There were, however, plenty of Hitler Youth around, some much younger than him, eager to talk to him and discuss his future plans for contributing to the Fatherland and their Fuhrer. Klein always felt uneasy in the company of these boys – they would come to his school, hand out leaflets and deliver propaganda talks to the kids that weren’t signed up and act very contemptuously to anyone who refused, or challenged their role. They seemed to have a lot of power and influence for their age, especially in the schools – even the teachers looked uneasy in their presence. There was even rumours that they spied on their own families to make sure they were truly allegiant to the Fuhrer. Klein thought that they may even feedback the names and details of kids like him, to higher authorities, that seemed apathetic to the Third Reich. As Klein watched the show and kept the Hitler Youth occupied, as positively as he could, he announced to them that he was going to be a pilot and fly in a fighter. Clearly, this was the ‘correct’ answer they were looking for, as the other boys smiled at him, congratulated him on his choice of career path and, with

disturbing synchronicity, clicked their heels and cried “Heil Hitler!” to him and moved on to intimidate some other unfortunate boy! Klein, half-heartedly and slowly raised his hand as the boys turned and moved on before he had raised it completely and dropped it immediately they turned away.

Klein had never been a complete convert to National Socialism. He had been impressed by Hitler for many years for bringing Germany back from economic oblivion, standing up to the Allies on the terms of the Versailles Treaty and giving Germans their sense of pride and patriotism back. He was naive about politics and like many others in Germany at this time was swept away by the patriotic speeches and the promise of glory by their seemingly charismatic leader. The Spanish civil war gave Klein the desire to join the Luftwaffe as the propaganda machine, engineered by Goebbels in Germany made heroes of the Luftwaffe’s Condor legions in that war. Klein had always had an ambition to fly and he worked hard at ensuring his place in the Luftwaffe. He fastidiously studied models and drawings of enemy aircraft, viewing them from all angles as silhouettes so that he would be able to instantly recognise them and distinguish friend from foe. He studied the principles of flight from books and any other source he could get his hands on, and ensured he had a good knowledge base of different types of aircraft. From his indoctrinated view of the situation, he was helping to overcome the allies, who were clearly worried about Germany ever being a strong nation again. He reasoned that the Allies did not want to share economic spoils with a nation that they obviously had never forgiven, for the previous war, and wanted land such as Poland and Czechoslovakia for themselves. In Klein’s mind, these were legitimate German territory and they had to be returned to her and not given to Britain to start Empire-building again. It was important to Klein that the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty should be repealed and that Germany should be allowed to prosper again. Klein was also concerned about Russia’s allied ties with Britain and the USA as he was not convinced that the Allies could control the vast communist country, so close to Germany. Bolshevism was the greatest enemy to the Fatherland, and it would be paramount to

defeat the Allies to ensure that Stalin kept Russia’s borders where they were and that western Poland remained predominantly German. It was for these reasons that Klein was anxious to get involved in the war and to protect Germany. The charismatic and triumphant oratory of Hitler provided the rousing backdrop to all thoughts of a nation on the rise, and while Klein thought Hitler was a great speaker, he did admit to being a bit fearful of the anger that seemed to emanate from it as well! At the end of the day, however, it didn’t really matter who was in charge, as long as Germany was protected and allowed to prosper, something that could never happen under the Bolsheviks.

This stage in Klein’s flying career however, had given Klein a different viewpoint on the Fuhrer, by 1944. He didn’t hate the British or Americans as people, he didn’t see any one ethnic group of people or race as a threat in any way and he didn’t like the fact that military men were being over-ruled in decision making that could make or break the war for Germany, and to be frank, Hitler was looking more and more like a deranged , paranoid man with each passing speech he made. The truth about the burning of the Reichstag, and other misdemeanours the Nazi’s were responsible for, were being whispered in many circles in Germany, although it was extremely dangerous to pass comment. Certainly, the lower end of the Nazi organisation seemed to be controlled by thugs and Klein was puzzled as to why they were able to get away with that kind of behaviour. It didn’t seem to have any political significance, to Klein. Goerring, the Luftwaffe chief, at this stage in the war, was clearly delusional and in no fit state to be in charge. His morale boosting visits to Luftwaffe units became less and less as it became more apparent to the airmen that he was not up to the job and he became a liability to them instead of their inspirational leader. Each Unit he visited would know he was lying, and not even making a very convincing job of it. They would listen to him rant about victory in the skies, when they knew from first hand experience that they were finished. They also deeply resented being blamed by Goerring, personally, for the predicament that the Luftwaffe was now in

and it had become abundantly clear that their ‘leader’ was as much an enemy to them as the British! It was true that there never seemed to be any great shortage of new fighters being delivered, however, the fuel and the pilots to go with them, never appeared in the same abundance.

The version of the Fatherland being shown to the Klein’s military comrades now was somehow different to the version that promised the German people greatness in all endeavours in the late 1920’s, when this ideology was being sold as a re-builder of an already great nation. As Klein looked over the Clyde estuary to the mainland beyond, he wondered where it had all gone wrong. The war would soon be over, for sure, the Russian’s would probably carve up most of Europe for themselves and Germany as a nation, would probably cease to exist. Klein’s new- found views, of course, were never aired in public, as it had become far too dangerous to contradict any viewpoint the Third Reich put forward. Klein had feared the methods and tactics used with which the Nazis ruled and, like so many others, was terrified to speak with any alternative views to his superiors. From his dealings with the Hitler youth to the party members who seemed to infiltrate every corner of society, Klein had steadily increased his scepticism on National Socialism as they way forward for Germany as more and more of it’s ugly nature became public. These were dangerous times for all, and Klein feared, too, for his family who would also be persecuted if his changing attitudes to Nazi Germany were ever known and had quickly realised that any opportunity out of the war, now, could not be missed. Looking around the crash site and the scenery around him on this idyllic island, made him think. Maybe crashing in Arran was that opportunity . . .

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