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Old 10th May 2019, 20:54
rof120 rof120 is offline
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Galland's victories: Reply to Laurent Rizzotti - About translations, in particular of aviation books

2nd May 2019, 18:55
Laurent Rizzotti

Re: A Galland mystery – Galland’s two victories won on 3 June 1940

On a side note, I am not sure that speaking of translation of Galland's books as "separate sources" is valid: in most cases, the translator only translates, there is no new research or update done.

I know you mean well but alas what you wrote on translations does not match reality. It would, and this would be very fine indeed, “if” translators really “only (would) translate”, but in almost all instances regrettably this is not the case. For whatever reasons (I can’t elaborate on the causes here for this would take a lot of time and space) so-called “translators”, male and female, almost always write whatever nonsense they happen to stumble on or have in their otherwise empty brains. Of course such people are not translators but bloody incompetent amateurs. Most firms and almost all publishing companies hire them because they accept much lower fares than competent professionals. So almost all translations of any kind talk nonsense. The only excuses are the mostly incredibly low fares for translating (lower than for cleaning the floor, as the French translators’ union used to say) and very short time allowed for doing the job. Also, many “translators” feel they have to “improve” and even “correct” what the author has written. They are so much better than the authors!

This is how the English edition (1954) of Galland’s book “The First and the Last” contains a lot of nonsense. Not only was a large part of the chapters dealing with the Spanish civil war deleted – and quite a few English-readers complained about that – but, among many other horrors, you can read this in the English edition (first published 1955 in England by Eyre Methuen Ltd., London; my copy printed 1986 in the USA by Champlin Museum Press in Mesa, Arizona):

on page 45 about Galland’s very first victory on May 12, 1940 (a RAF “Hurricane) “He rather clumsily avoided action…”. In German it was: “He took evasive action which was not particularly skilful…” The poor guy did NOT “avoid action” but took evasive action, which is entirely different. But the rest is much worse:

page 47 – Galland describes how he chased a French Potez 63.11 and adds: “Der Heckschütze war ausgefallen.” (The rear gunner had been put out of action.) English “translation” : “I had (…) shot away part of his tail.” So the rear gunner became part of the tail. Very interesting.

page 47 too: “I pulled at my brakes like mad.” “Pulled”?
page 50: “I bent a blade of my airscrew and my undercarriage on his wing.” In German it was: “I bent (…) and my fin on his right wing” (RIGHT wing and FIN not undercarriage). Replacing the fin with the undercarriage really is a great feat.
page 52 (bottom of page): “On August 1st, when Marshal Kesselring pinned the Knight’s Cross on my tunic after my seventeenth kill (…)”. A Knight’s Cross pinned on the tunic, no comment.

Do you prefer the old French edition “Jusqu’au bout sur nos Messerschmitt” (publisher was Robert Laffont 1954)? Virtually everything is wrong or invented by the so-called “translator”. It’s almost necessary to correct every single word so I can give you but a few examples:

Page 8, 2nd line: Westerholt became “Westerholz”. He couldn’t care less. Same nonsense on page 9, 2nd paragr., 1st line.
Page 12, end of 1st paragr. : “ a small car” has become “an Opel”.
End of page 17: one hour in custody became “three hours”.
Page 59, end of 1st paragr.: “a small (private) tourism aircraft” was in fact a Fw 58 “Weihe” – a light, twin-engined aircraft. It was shot down by German fighters with a German general (Jafü) inside. The “translation” of the rest of this story is appalling: I am not brave enough to discuss it here. Pure inventions, nonsense etc. like in the WHOLE BOOK.

In this French “translation”, the fin of Galland’s Me 109 was not damaged any more on June 3, 1940.

Of course, like everybody else including those who made the film “The Battle of Britain” (and Galland was one of the experts having helped with this work), this “translator” wrote that Galland asked Göring for an “escadrille” (or “Staffel” (12 fighters), or “squadron”) of “Spitfires”. As he reported 1953 at the latest in his own book, Galland asked for “Spitfires” for his Geschwader (wing, escadre), which means a complement of 124 fighters not 12 or 16 (in the RAF, or later 20).

Sorry, I have to hurry up. I’ll just add that Galland described in great detail, in this same book, how he was shot down on 21 June 1941 and very nearly died in his burning and diving 109. He can’t jettison the damaged transparent roof of his cockpit, which becomes a jammed “ejection seat” and his parachute becomes “my second parachute”, as if any fighter pilot in the world had been carrying TWO parachutes!

At the very end of the book we learn highly interesting things: the airport of Munich-Riem becomes “Riehm” twice because the “translator” didn’t like the real name, and this place (which was part of Munich) is to be found “in the suburbs of Salzburg”, which is approximately 100 km (60 miles) to the East. Big suburbs I have to say. This “translation” does not mention with one single word that Galland was wounded in a knee on 26 April, which made him unable to fly and made his capture by American troops possible. So we believe that he was on Salzburg airfield when the 60 Me 262s of his beloved JV 44 were blown up by their German owners (a certain concentration of the jet fighters had taken place in the last few days). To replace himself he had chosen Heinz Bär (say “Bair”) as the new CO of this unit. Galland was not there – he was still in hospital, certainly much to his chagrin.

Terrible translations are to be found everywhere, not only in aviation literature. The most interesting German book of Mr. Karl-Heinz Frieser on the 1940 French Campaign with the title “Blitzkrieg-Legende - Der Westfeldzug 1940” (released 1995, 4th edition in the meantime) was massacred by some female nitwit who did not even know that tanks have turrets not towers and that big guns do not fire "coups de feu" (shots from light weapons like rifles). This "translation" is incredibly poor and misleading (poor historians!). Some people disagree with Frieser but this is not the point. I read both the German and the French editions. The French one is absolutely terrible: artillery pieces and antitank guns fire “shots” (coups de feu, in French shots by small arms), a heavy French tank B1bis (the by far heaviest tank in Europe except the USSR) becomes “un char minuscule” (minute, tiny like a sparrow is “minuscule” as compared with an eagle). Tanks have a “tour” (tower) instead of a “tourelle” (turret). The 41,000 (or possibly 43,000) wheeled vehicles of “grouping Kleist” engaged in the decisive battle of Sedan (May 12-14, 1940) become 41,000 cycles (like bicycles and the like). This so-called “translation” is a masterpiece and very typical.

Buyer, reader, beware! Translated books are a permanent fraud. Check first.
Galland and his German publishers were infuriated and very bitter when they read the so-called French “translation” of "Les premiers et les derniers" (1954) with the changed title of “Jusqu’au bout sur nos Messerschmitt” – a mouthful – and probably all the other “translations” or most of them; as we just saw the English “translation” is hardly better. This made them very suspicious and very careful about more recent translations, which were checked very carefully and had to be accepted before being printed and sold. (This procedure is applied very rarely, which is a great pity.)

Galland, in particular, scrutinized translations very carefully – possibly with the help of numerous German fighter pilots who had survived the war. He was extremely satisfied with "Les premiers et les derniers" (1985-1992) and he wrote this to his new French translator-publisher in no uncertain terms.
This is why I counted 5 different books not 3 containing Galland’s story of his two victories won on June 3, 1940, for there is no doubt at all that he checked these translations very exactly. He confirmed this story at least 5 times including 1995 or 1996 (he passed away in February 1996, aged almost 84). This started 1953 (aged 41) and I am convinced that he knew what he was talking about. He never changed or corrected this story 1953-1996 contrary to some other ones in the same book (the 3 non-Belgian RAF “Hurricanes” he got on May 12 and more).

More on this:
Choose the chapters "Adolf Galland" etc. and (ON PAGE 2) "Mais enfin, qui diable…" (Who the hell is that Michelet fellow…). In both chapters numerous photographs of Galland etc. See also "Photos d'avions" (Aircraft photographs) - some gems there. I found it interesting.

Last edited by rof120; 11th May 2019 at 00:28.