Book Review: Wolfram von Richthofen: Master of the German Air War


by James S. Corum

Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008. Pp. vii, 421. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 0700615989

With this first full biography of airman Wolfram von Richthofen, the less famous but more important cousin of the "Red Baron", Prof. Corum (Dean of the Baltic Defence College, Estonia), once again demonstrates the skills that have made him one of the most distinguished historians of the German military experience, first evidenced in such notable works as The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform andThe Luftwaffe's Way of War: German Air Force Doctrine, 1911-1945.

Corum begins by looking as Richthofen's early life as junker youth, follows him into the Imperial Army as a cavalryman with field service in the early part of World War I, during which he transferred to the air service. He then looks more deeply into Richthofen's career in the war Reichswehr in the inter-war period, during which he helped plan the revival of German air power, while earning a doctorate in engineering. Corum gives particular attention to the period following the rise of Hitler, during which Richthofen became an important leader of the new Luftwaffe, demonstrating how plans and
preparations made during the 1920s, bore fruit under the new regime. Naturally, Corum covers the wars years in considerable detail, following Richthofen service commanding air forces in Poland, France, the Battle of Britain, the Balkans, the Eastern Front, and finally the Mediterranean, during which rose to marshal, exploring the intricacies
of the operational and strategic problems that confronted German air power as the war unfolded

This is an outstanding work, not only for the excellent, nuanced picture it gives of the life and work of Wolfram von Richthofen, but also as an account of the complexities of air power and air warfare in the twentieth century, and for its look at the German military reform following World War I and the creation of the Wehrmacht.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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