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Further reading on Germany in WWII, the German Resistance and Army

Of the hundreds of sources used for my Ph.D. and subsequent research, I have selected only those secondary sources which are either major, classical works on the topic (and so, although often older, still readily available) or those books which stood out from the many thousands on the topic for one reason or another.

Historical Sources

bullet    Hoffmann, Peter, History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945
This is a standard and comprehensive work on the Resistance for serious scholars.
bullet    Hoffmann, Peter, Widerstand, Staatsstreich, Attentat. Der Kampf der Opposition gegen Hitler
bullet    Schlabrendorff, Fabian v., Offiziere gegen Hitler
Released in 1946 this was the first book ever published about the German Resistance; Schlabrendorff was a minor participant, who had also been arrested and tortured by the Gestapo.
bullet    Zeller, Eberhard: Geist der Freiheit
Released in 1954 by a personal friend of many members of the Resistance it conveys the spirit of their struggle far better than many later, academic works.
bullet    Fest, Joachi, Staatsstreich. Der lange Weg zum 20. Juli
bullet    Klemperer, Klemens von, Enrico Syring & Reiner Zimmermann, Für Deutschland. Die Männer des 20. Julis
bullet    Lill, Rudolf & Heinrich Oberreuter (Hrsg), 20. Juli. Portraits des Widerstands
bullet    Goddard, Donald, The Last Days of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
bullet    Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Letters and Papers from Prison
bullet    Hansen, Richard, A Noble Treason: The Revolt of the Munich Students Against Hitler
A good introduction to the White Rose resistance group.
bullet    Grunberger, Richard, The 12-Year Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, 1933-1945
By far one of the best, concise social histories of Nazi Germany providing insights into education, the role of women, business, agriculture, the press etc.; rather than focusing on political events, it describes how society worked in Nazi Germany.
bullet    Grube, Frank & Gerhard Richter, Alltag im Dritten Reich. So lebten die deutschen 1933-1945
bullet    Wheeler-Bennet, John, The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945
bullet    Wheeler-Bennet, John, Die Nemesis der Macht. Die deutsche Armee in der Politik, 1918-1945
bullet    Goerlitz, Walter, History of the German General Staff, 1657-1945
bullet    Dupuy, T.N., A Genius for War: The German Army and General Staff, 1807-1945
bullet    Müller, Klaus Jürgen, Das Heer und Hitler
bullet    Siedler, Franz: Blitzmädchen, Die Geschichte der Helferinnen der deutschen Wehrmacht im Zweiten Weltkrieg
Personal Accounts/Autobiographies

bullet    Wartenburg, Marion Gräfin (Countess) York, Die Stärke der Stille
Gräfin Yorck is the widow of a founding member of the Kreisauer Kreis, Peter Graf Yorck and gives important insights to this civilian resistance group.
bullet    Feuersenger, Marianne,  Mein Kriegstagebuch. Führerhauptquartier und Berliner Wirklichkeit
Ms. Feuersenger was a secretary working in key Wehrmacht offices including at Hitler's HQ but with close ties to members of the Resistance.
bullet    Boveri, Margaret, Tage des Überlebens
Life in Berlin during the war.
bullet    Bredow, Ilse Gräfin v., Deine Keile kriegste doch
bullet    Maschmann, Melita, Fazit
Written by a young woman who became a senior leader in the Bund deutscher Mädel - the girls equivalent of Hitler Youth - this is one of the most critical and honest accounts of life inside Nazi Germany I have ever run across.

bullet    Schrader, Helena, An Obsolete Honor
Set in Germany during the Second World War, this novel traces the gradual transformation of a loyal - albeit critical - German General Staff Officer into a traitor and assassin candidate.  Secondary characters in the novel reflect the great diversity of feelings toward National Socialism from idealistic enthusiasm to self-interested support, cautious approval and humanitarian opposition.

bullet    Solmssen, Arthur: A Princess in Berlin
Written by a Berliner, son of a Jewish banking house, this is one of the most insightful books ever written about Germany in the Weimar Republic.


Further reading on WWII - Aviation

Again, there are so very many books published on WWII and Aviation in WWII that what follows is only a limited selection of titles which I personally think are excellent introductions to the topic and/or stand out among their peers as particularly worth reading.

Historical Sources

bullet    Bungay, Stephen: The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain (this is a day by day account with excellent statistics and order of battles; an excellent source for a serious scholar)
bullet    Bishop, Patrick: Fighter Boys: Saving Britain 1940 (approaches the topic by subject rather than chronologically providing greater insight and analysis of such things as background, training and attitudes of pilots rather than an historical account of events)
bullet    Townsend, Peter: Duel of Eagles: The Struggle for the Skies from the First World War to the Battle of Britain, (written by a man who commanded a Fighter Squadron during the Battle of Britain, this bring some personal perspectives but also looks at the subject historically and includes the biographies of individual German fliers as well)
bullet    Clayton, Tim & Phil Craig, Finest Hour, (this book following a large number of protagonists through the Battles of France and Britain, including Dunkirk puts the Battle of Britain in perspective)
bullet    Reynolds, David: Rich Relations: The American Occupation of Britain, 1942-1945 (a very detailed account of how US and Britain coped with the huge number of American troops stationed in Britain during the war.)
bullet    Lewis, Bruce: Aircrew: The Story of the Men who Flew the Bombers
bullet    Gross, Chris: Brothers in Arms: A Story of a British and a German Fighter Unit, August to December 1940.

Personal Accounts/Autobiographies

bullet    Hillary, Richard: The Last Enemy (published during the war itself)
bullet    Gibson, Guy, VC: Enemy Coast Ahead (published during the war)
bullet    Richey, Paul: Fighter Pilot (published during the war itself)
bullet    Johnstone, AVM Sandy, Enemy in the Sky (wartime diaries of then Squadron Leader and commander in the Battle of Britain)
bullet    Wellum, Geoffrey, First Light (Battle of Britain pilot, written only recently with the retrospective advantages of a man of mature age reflecting on his youth - truly excellent)
bullet    Page, Geoffrey, Shot Down in Flames (as Hillary's book this describes the experiences of a pilot shot down in the Battle of Britain and burned beyond recognition along with the painful process of medical treatment)
bullet    Deere, Alan: Nine Lives (Battle of Britain "ace")
bullet    Kingcome, Brian: A Willingness to Die (Battle of Britain flight commander)
bullet    Johnson, Group Captain J.E., Wing Leader (RAF's highest score fighter "ace")
bullet    Gray, Jennie, Fire by Night (written by the daughter of a man who served in Bombers, this book reconstructs a critical crash, although not a first hand account it is very personal and provides excellent insight into life in Bomber Command)


With so many excellent first hand accounts, most novels just seem to fall flat or even ring false. An example of a book that completely misses the mark, for example, is Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson. It is so poor, that surviving Battle of Britain pilots considered suing Robinson but decided that would only increase the sales of the book and so let it be.

Nevertheless, I think the following books, particularly Radcliffe's, are excellent reads.

bullet    Radcliffe, Robert, Under an English Heaven,
bullet    Grieg, Andrew, That Summer,
bullet    Singer, E.M., Mother Flies Hurricanes,

And of course one can always enjoy a classic like Memphis Belle by Monte Merrick.


Further reading on Women Pilots in WWII

Women Pilots in the U.S.A.

There has been a great deal published on the WASPs and WAFs in the U.S. including a large number of personal memoirs.

The memoirs vary in quality from books of glaring historical inaccuracy to excellent biographies combining solid period research with personal experience. Among the latter are the Simbeck biography of Cornelia Fort and Bartels moving story of Evelyn Sharp.

For a detailed and well documented academic analysis of the reasons the WASP bill failed in Congress in 1944, readers should refer to Merryman, Clipped Wings.

For an easy but fair introduction to the topic in a non-fiction format, I recommend Verges, Keil and Rickman, all of who have produced highly readable and well researched books.

bullet    Verges, Marianne, On Silver Wings: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, 1942-1944, 1991.
bullet    Rickman, Sarah Byrn, The Originals: The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II, 2001.
bullet    Keil, Sally Van Wagenen, Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines: The Unknown Heroines of World War II, 1990.
bullet    Cole, Jean Hascall, Women Pilots of World War II, 1992.
bullet    Granger, Byrd Howell, On Final Approach: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, 1991.
bullet    Merryman, Molly, Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II, 1998.
bullet    Simbeck, Rob, Daughter of the Air: The Brief Soaring Life of Cornelia Fort, 1999.
bullet    Bartels, Diane Ruth Armour, Sharpie: The Life Story of Evelyn Sharp, Nebraska's Aviatrix, 1996.

 Women Pilots in the U.K.

Publications on the women pilots in the UK are fewer and generally much older. In fact, only Diana Barnato Walker (also famous for being one of the first women to fly faster than the speed of sound) has recently published her memoirs including her time with the ATA, and Lettice Curtis has published an autobiography which, however, adds nothing new to her 1971 comprehensive history of the ATA.

Curtis' history of the ATA, The Forgotten Pilots, remains the best history of the organization on the market and includes much valuable information about the women who flew with it, as does the "official" history of the ATA, published just after the end of the war, Cheeseman's Brief Glory.

For books focusing exclusively on the women (something not entirely appropriate in the context) one can turn to Lucas, King, de Bunsen or du Cros.

Michael Fahie, the son of the Director of Women Pilots, Pauline Gower, has produced a lovely tribute to his mother in A Harvest of Memories, with much important information on her tactics and success in gaining equal opportunity for her women pilots.

The best and easiest reads are Cheeseman and Walker, and both books are highly recommended for an understanding of the ethos and spirit of the ATA and the women who flew in it.

bullet    Curtis, Lettice, The Forgotten Pilots: A Story of the Air Transport Auxiliary, 1939-45, 1971.
bullet    Cheeseman, E.C., Brief Glory: The Story of the Air Transport Auxiliary, 1946.
bullet    Lucas, Y.M., WAAF with Wings, 1992.
bullet    King, Alison, Golden Wings: The Story of Some of the Women Ferry Pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, 1956.
bullet    Bunsen, Mary de, Mount up with Wings, 1960.
bullet    Cros, Rosemary du, ATA Girl: Memoirs of a Wartime Ferry Pilot, 1883.
bullet    Fahie, Michael, A Harvest of Memories: The Life of Pauline Gower M.B.E., 1995.
bullet    Walker, Diana Barnato, Spreading My Wings, 2003.




NOTE: In building this site, I thought about many things - such as what spelling standard I should use in referring to World War II, and what keyword spelling people might use in a search engine to find this page.  I found it interesting to note the following numbers of page listings for the various ways one might type World War II into a search engine. 

bullet  6,050,000 for world war two
bullet  5,860,000 for world war 2
bullet  134,000,000 for world war II (using the capital i for the 2)
bullet  83,900 for world war ll (using the lower case L for the 2)
bullet  26,200,000 for second world war
bullet  310,000 for 2nd world war

bullet  21,600 for ww two
bullet  804,000 for ww 2
bullet  7,130,000 for ww ii (using the i for the 2)
bullet  46,300 for ww ll (using the lower case L for the 2)

bullet  21,600 for w.w. two
bullet  804,000 for W.W.2
bullet  7,130,000 for w.w.II (using the capital i for the 2)
bullet  46,300 for w.w.ll (using the lower case l for the 2)

Note that capitalization, punctuation and spacing changes introduced no differences.  So if you are looking for information on a particular subject, remember to use all variations of the wrods related to the subject.  The pages a search engine will give you to look at will vary with each method. Also in general, I have referred to World War II on these pages using WWII (using the capital i for the 2).


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 Last updated May 29, 2010