Germany, a small though pugnacious country, was a mess during the European depression. How so many talented individuals developed is astounding. Why they dedicated their lives to the Nazi cancer is told elsewhere. This book does not help explain.
I look at it simply as a saga of a woman who did useful work in the sailplane industry, then powerplanes. She was aided by a supportive home and influential friends who nurtured her skills. While other women remained under the thumb of oppressive fathers and men in their lives, she flew free (not without breaking some occasional taboos in countries she visited). Testing civilian gliders must have been a rewarding job.
Then she transitioned to test pilot for military projects as they were adding dive-brakes (standard on gliders) to bombers. Her background was useful in programs for those like rocket interceptors that were delayed by engine development delays- first test flights were made as gliders. And one of those tests resulted in her injury. But after recovery, she continued to fly as a civilian for the Luftwaffe. That she persisted with the regime defies understanding.
When U.S. armies overran Kitzbuhl she became a U.S. prisoner:
' Then I was loaded on to a jeep and taken on a nine-hour journey, at a furious speed and over atrocious roads, to an internment camp. There I was put into a cell about the size of a railway sleeping compartment, completely bare except for a straw mattress on the floor, with one barred window, denuded of glass, through which the cold October air streamed in unhindered.
Was that the America that I had known and loved? I could not think so, for the face I saw was hardened in hate.
Some time later, after I had been moved to the Alaska Internee Camp in Oberursel, an American General came to see me, and he was different-frank, open-heartened and kind, like the Americans I remembered. Later I got to know his wife, a grey-haired woman with beautiful, clear features-- she, too, had the victor's mentality of 1945.
Through my own experience in Germany, I had seen how official propaganda had not only perverted the truth, but blinded people to a sense of their own guilt. Talking with the General and his wife, I now realised that this applied no less to the victors. Neither of them was petty-minded or vindictive, like the Americans who guarded and interrogated me, but I could see that even they had been affected by anti-German propaganda, sincere and generous as they were. So perhaps it was not American brutality that was responsible for my sufferings as a prisoner, but the self-inflicted blindness of nations at war.
After a time, I was moved to an internment camp in Onerursel and from there, in October 1946 after fifteen months' captivity, I was finally released.'
I wonder if, were the roles reversed, could she do the same?
Interesting pictures of her taken before and during the war.
See also: From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler's Bunker, Last Hope of the Luftwaffe: Me 163, He 162, Me 262 (Mini Topcolors), and flight testing German designs: Wings of the Luftwaffe: Flying the Captured German Aircraft of World War II.