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Lecture: Combat Motivation, Experience, and Morale across the Luftwaffe during the Second World War

02 December 2022

At 12.30PM on Friday 2 December 2022, Victoria Taylor will examine combat motivation, experience, and morale in the Luftwaffe and how these could differ across the service and the theatres it fought within.

This free lecture will be hosted in our Cosford lecture theatre with a live audience. The lecture will also be live-streamed online via Crowdcast.

 

Talk Outline

‘I’m lying here in a village outside Leningrad. The bullets and grenades fly back and forth. What is man against it?’ This fraught letter from the mid-throes of Operation BARBAROSSA came not from a soldier with the German Heer (army), as one might expect, but instead from a low-ranking Luftwaffe serviceman with the Luftnachrichten-Regiment 11 (Air Signals Regiment 11) on 21 September 1941. In a topic that is dominated by the post-war memoirs of the famous German fighter aces, the Luftwaffe’s historians have often neglected the lived-in combat experiences of its men across the organisation’s ranks and roles during the Second World War.

That air signals units, anti-aircraft personnel, and even bomber crews sometimes became embroiled in brutal close-range fighting on the ground, or that the medical personnel tasked with patching up casualties in the flying arms were haunted by the broken airmen they attended to, rarely factors into our general understanding of the Luftwaffe’s wartime history. When a wider swathe of letters from both its flying and non-flying personnel are considered, a more complex and contradictory image of the Luftwaffe begins to appear – especially when considering its various sources of combat motivation, from their families to the Führer.

Drawing upon original letters sent home to their loved ones in the Third Reich and other contemporary sources, such as the Allied interrogations of captured Luftwaffe personnel, this lecture considers how combat motivation, experience, and morale could differ across the Luftwaffe and the theatres it fought within, although opinions of the war’s direction among its multiple branches could also vary considerably even when they were serving on the same front. In turn, this allows a more thorough perception of its operational culture, esprit de corps (or, in some cases, lack thereof), and eventual collapse to be more thoroughly developed beyond the gunsights of the Luftwaffe’s fighter pilots.

Location

The lecture will take place in our Cosford lecture theatre on Friday 2 December 2022. This lecture will begin at 12.30PM.

Tickets

This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you register now as tickets are limited. Booking is quick and easy:
Book Now for this free lecture

Please note: That this lecture will also be available to watch remotely via the Museum’s Crowdcast Channel.

To access the lecture you may need to check your internet browser is compatible. It is currently reported that Google Chrome provides the best experience for using Crowdcast.

About Victoria Taylor

Victoria Taylor is a PhD candidate at the University of Hull and Sheffield Hallam University, where she is completing her thesis on the Luftwaffe and National Socialism in the Third Reich. For this doctoral research, she was awarded the 2020 Royal Air Force Museum Doctoral Academic Prize in 2021. She also completed her Masters in Historical Research (MRes) on Britain’s wartime and post-war mythologization of Operation CHASTISE at Hull, for which she was awarded the Royal Air Force Museum’s RAF Centenary Master’s Academic Prize in 2019.

Victoria’s specialisation is in the history of airpower, aviation, and the public imagination. Her main focus is on British and German aviation during the interwar period and the Second World War, which she has frequently covered during her past collaborations with the BBC, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, and History Hit.

About the RAF Museum Research Programme

The RAF Museum’s 2022 research programme includes Lunchtime Lectures at the RAF Museum, Cosford; Air Power Lectures, co-organised with the Centre for War and Diplomacy at Lancaster University; Air Power Seminars, co-organised with the University of Wolverhampton; and the Trenchard Lecture series, hosted at the Royal Aeronautical Society. You can attend these lectures in person or join us online as we live-stream from the venue.

The RAF Museum will also be hosting virtual only lectures throughout 2022. You can find more information on our virtual lectures, and our Crowdcast Channel, by visiting https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/virtual-events/virtual-lectures/


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