Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum  

Go Back   Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum > Community > General

General Please use this forum to post feedback, suggestions and problems relating to

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 1st February 2016, 13:01
Adriano Baumgartner Adriano Baumgartner is offline
Alter Hase
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,650
Adriano Baumgartner is on a distinguished road
Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Dear all,
The main idea of this thread came from the advice of John Beaman (below):
Originally Posted by Adriano Baumgartner
Herr Jochen PRIEN,
Firstly, I am a real fan of your work, really. (I only do have the full set about the JG53 History, though; but am interested on the JG 27 work of yours, since Obfw. Wilhelm Baumgartner seems to be from the same root of my Family, back in Switzerland...but this is another story).
Secondly: I know you wrote several books about the Luftwaffe, etc...but have you thought about writing about your father? I did not know he was a former veteran and highly decorated...Excuse me being curious, but had you talked about the war, I mean, when you were a kid, etc.?....or was it a difficult subject to talk about? Do you see, I have met only 4 former German WW2 veterans here in Brazil, one of them being Martin Drewes, back in 1996, one JG 27 airman shot down in 1945...a Ju 88 trainee pilot (who is still flying gliders) and a former NJG 2 and NJG 1 technician from Siemens that helped install the FuG 212 in the very first Nachtjagd aircraft (almost all of them passed away)...and this was Always a difficult topic to talk about. Of course, I am not a, they may have been suspicious, etc....
I understand this is an OFF topic question and is not related to the thread itself, but as a Latin American, I would like to understand if, during the 50's or 60's this was talked about, within the families of veterans...or if this was "verbotten" topic...

Again, please do let me express my admiration for your work and the tribute you did to all those Luftwaffe airmen, writing about their units and memories.

Adriano S. Baumgartner
Adriano, you ask some interesting questions, but I think this needs a new thread. Why don't you cut and past your thread into a new one>

I have been in contact, during the last 25 years with many veterans and veteran’s relatives (sons, daughter, etc.).
Very few of those sons and daughters ever thought about writing about their parents, even in England or the USA.

I asked that for Herr Jochen PRIEN whose work I admire, why he had never thought of writing a full biography of his father (who was a RK winner himself). I have also humbly suggested, on previous postings on this Forum, to the relatives of Hauptmann Otto Kittel (whose wreckage was found by a Researcher/Historian) and the relatives of Major Hans-Georg Bätcher (whom I believe, deserves an amazing biography) to write about them…

There are much more…on the British side, we do not have (yet) a full biography of the most successful night-fighter team: S/L Branse A. Burbridge, DSO, DFC and Bill Skelton, DSO, DFC. Another dozen (or plus) successful airmen have not being remembered so far…I mean, DSO winners, airmen that have flown more than 100 missions, etc…

One of the daughters I contacted, thankfully wrote two magnificent accounts about his father and her mother (whose fiancée, a Canadian pilot, was shot down in September 1944). Her work (Sara V. Mosher) is written with her heart. Please do me share the link: and http://65eastindiasquadron.blogspot....vieres-65.html

As a “book-lover” and “book-eater”, since a child, WHY there are so few books written by sons and daughters about their fathers? Was it, after WW2 (principally on the German and Russian side) a “Verbotten” or forbidden topic?
Thankfully we have seen (including on this Forum), several Russian Historians digging their WW2 Records and re-writing History, with professional cross-checking, etc.

I am aware (25 years researching), Gentlemen, that to write and Edit a book of this kind, we will face quite a lot of setbacks and difficulties, but the memories of those forgotten heroes should not be buried, simply.

Dear John Beaman, thank you for letting me start a new thread, on this topic. I understand this is still difficult to talk about this, most principally to those who took part on the events, or their relatives. Maybe this is why, after WW1 there were so few books of memories…I guess they simply wanted to forget what they saw and faced.

For instance, my great-grand uncle fought on Italy, in 1944-45, as a Second Sergeant; however it is very difficult to find details of his participation on the Second World War. I was trying to find more about the BAUMGARTNER(s) that have served in the Whermacht and Luftwaffe, during WW2…and thankfully have been helped by a dozen of Members on this fantastic Forum.

In Brazil, there was no “Official” preoccupation in interviewing our Infantry and Air Force men that served between 1943-45. As a consequence, we do have very very few memories nowadays published, even Squadron memories.
PLEASE, Herr Jochen Prien, I know you must be a very busy person, but why haven’t you thought about writing about your father’s memories, yet?

I remember the son of S/L Oxby, DSO, DFC, DFM on that Forum saying that he was finishing a book about his father. This example should, in my humble opinion, be followed by the sons, daughters, grand-sons and grand-daughters…so we will have History preserved and, as readers, more biographies to read, from different writers, etc…

Thank you to all members, and I do apologize if I have touched a “mined area” or have being misinterpreted (it can happen if one is not 100% proficient in the language…so this is my case).

Adriano S. Baumgartner
Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2016, 17:55
Johannes Johannes is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 945
Johannes is on a distinguished road
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Dear Adriano

Herr Prien is correct that most children do not write books about their Fathers. There are several reasons. Firstly there really is no money in it, we do it for the love of the hobby. Secondly even if they did write, who would publish? Thirdly many Fathers wouldn't even like to talk about it, some to the extent that their children would not even known if they were in the war, or what they did.
Don't forget that for the survivors it was only a small piece of there lives.

With your relative Wilhelm.....I did include him in a publication a couple of years ago. Thirty-one confirmed claims from 14th May 1941 until 6th April 1943. Born on 25th October 1913 he was killed on 11th April 1943. DKiG on 4th August 1942. Likely that his decorations and flugbuch didn't get back to his family.

To any other Nation he would have been a top,top ace.

He also survived two weeks days behind Russian lines 15th-29th October 1941 before returning to German lines. There would be quite a story to be had about this guy. Shame he didn't survive.

Kind Regards

Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2016, 18:12
Nick Beale's Avatar
Nick Beale Nick Beale is online now
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Exeter, England
Posts: 4,327
Nick Beale will become famous soon enough
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Another thing to bear in mind is that a relative's story can seem remarkable to the rest of the family (who may not usually read war books) but may be something that many thousands of people went through at the time and some have already written about.
Nick Beale
Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2016, 19:28
ChristianK ChristianK is online now
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 541
ChristianK is on a distinguished road
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Hi Adriano,

I can't speak for Mr Prien, but you have to bear in mind that for many Germans who were born after or during the war a Wehrmacht soldier (no matter if Luftwaffe or not) is anything but a hero who's story is worth telling. Those guys participated in a war of aggression that killed or uprooted millions of people, devastated thousands of cities and shook the geographical, economical and ethnic foundations of Europe for decades, sometimes the repercussions last until today. Hitler couldn't have done what he had done without his soldiers. It doesn't matter if you have been a General of the army, a fighter pilot or some office clerk in a supply unit. If you cling to this mindset, the highly decorated veterans actually are the worst, because they made personal gains from all of this AND, atop of it all, most of them enlisted voluntarily.

At least since the late 1960s this is the common public opinion in Germany, and this is even true when it comes to one's own relatives. There is some leniency in regard to the very young draftees in the last years of the war, but certainly not for people like, say, Galland, Hartmann, Steinhoff or Rudel. Most Germans nowadays see those guys as murderers, not heroes. In fact, it makes a vast difference how you got into a war and what you were fighting for...

Last edited by ChristianK; 2nd February 2016 at 19:59.
Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2016, 20:01
Chris Goss's Avatar
Chris Goss Chris Goss is offline
Alter Hase
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 8,262
Chris Goss is on a distinguished road
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

The basic problem is many children just simply are not interested. I was asked by the son of a Battle of Britain pilot if I could tell them what he did for his Eulogy................they had no idea
Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2016, 21:50
DavidIsby DavidIsby is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 575
DavidIsby is on a distinguished road
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

To state the obvious, many did not wish to tell their stories. In many cases, this was because there were painful memories. For others, there were the examples of fathers or other relatives that had not talked about their Great War experience. There was also often a desire to avoid being considered a "line shooter" or to imply that one's experience was exceptional. Finally, many people are simply uncomfortable talking about themselves.
author of THE DECISIVE DUEL: SPITFIRE VS 109, published by Little Brown. Visit its website at:
Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2016, 22:55
Bruce Dennis Bruce Dennis is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 533
Bruce Dennis is on a distinguished road
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Further to what has been said, I have interviewed a few 'old warriors' who told me things they had never told their families: one said he would talk freely only if I agreed not to share anything he said until after his death. As David said, they did not want to tell their stories or certain parts of the stories to those who knew them as Father, husband, uncle etc. The role played by people in war time sometimes just is at odds with the peacetime character of the same person.
My own father's stories, I found out too late, were true but incomplete.
Reply With Quote
Old 2nd February 2016, 00:28
andy bird andy bird is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Pembrokeshire & Berkshire
Posts: 674
andy bird is an unknown quantity at this point
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Unfortunately, people are uncomfortable talking about themselves, I helped ghost write a couple of chapters for a former Air Commodore who flew Mitchell's. Currently doing the same for a senior Army officer, its like pulling teeth to get him to talk about how he won his military medals for bravery, determination and leadership. Except when his wife is out making the tea . . .
Reply With Quote
Old 2nd February 2016, 19:29
Richard T. Eger Richard T. Eger is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Seaford, DE, U.S.A.
Posts: 626
Richard T. Eger is an unknown quantity at this point
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

Dear All,

Good discussion. We need to be careful about some of the statements, as they may lead into very negative commentary.

I don't believe that the Luftwaffe participants have fully refused to enter into public commentary about their careers. We have books written or ghost written by a number of them.

The German Fighter Pilots Association ( has been around for quite a while and publishes the news magazine Jägerblatt.

To gain the fullest possible understanding of what went on during the war we need access to as many sources of information as possible, including the participants themselves. There are always the questions as to the fallibility of memory, errors in original documents, intentional confabulation, personality clashes and attitudes affecting what is told, misinterpretations, carelessness, etc. Quotations of supposed conversations given on any particular day, especially if given in flowery language, are highly suspect. To the extent possible, corroboration offers some safety in getting at the truth.

Confabulation is especially insidious, a question of "I can claim whatever I want and no one will know the difference," equating to "if I can, why not get my satisfaction by claiming something that isn't true?" This contrasts with "I can do it, but should I do it?" In other words, does the writer write with high morality or not?

In saying all this, I do hope that we won't deflect the discussion away from its original focus. I think the refusal to talk or write on one's war experience is a bit over stated in this discussion.

Reply With Quote
Old 3rd February 2016, 08:39
Johannes Johannes is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 945
Johannes is on a distinguished road
Re: Why sons and daughters do not write about their fathers (WW2 biographies)

The Athlete Steve Ovett was always hounded by the press. I remember once his closest rival and himself entered two different 1500 metres races the same night, both won their races, and recorded the exact same times, yet the press called the rivals time a great success, and Ovett's a slump. Ovettt moved to Australia and had children, his son became quite a 800 metres runner himself, but was surprised to learn later that his Father was an Olympic champion!.........Ovett just it seems never spoke of it!

Some people and just modest, or have moved on. Guess he think that being successful as a fighter pilot was all they thought about post-war, well I guess a lot just regarded it as a harsh period in their lives, and officers were discriminated against post-war also.

Is a hard life!
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 20:18.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004 - 2018,