The Red Battle Flyer is German flying-ace Manfred von Richthofen’s autobiographical account of his career as a pilot in the Imperial German Army during the First World War. Known as “The Red Baron,” von Richthofen’s impressive skill as a fighter pilot was renowned, and with eighty aerial victories, he was the most decorated German pilot of the period. Der rote Kampfflieger, or The Red Battle Flyer, was written at the request of the German propaganda ministry while von Richthofen was recovering from injuries sustained after being shot down in combat.
The Red Battle Flyer was heavily censored by Germany’s propaganda board, so much so that von Richthofen voiced a desire to revise the book, and although he died in combat before he was able to do this, the very fact that the book was influenced by Germany’s propaganda machine makes it an interesting primary source in wartime social history.
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