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An Eagle's Odyssey (Hardback)

My Decade as a Pilot in Hitler's Luftwaffe

WWII Greenhill Books Greenhill: WWII Hitler & the Third Reich

By Johannes Kaufmann, Foreword by Richard Overy, Translated by John Weal
Greenhill Books
Pages: 233
ISBN: 9781784382537
Published: 30th May 2019



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‘I realised that this brief but abortive sortie was to be the final mission of my Luftwaffe flying career.’

Johannes Kaufmann’s career was an exciting one. He may have been an ordinary Luftwaffe pilot, but he served during an extraordinary time, with distinction. Serving for a decade through both peacetime and wartime, his memoir sheds light on the immense pressures of the job.

In this never-before-seen translation of a rare account of life in the Luftwaffe, Kaufmann takes the reader through his time in service, from his involvement in the annexation of the Rhineland, the attack on Poland, fighting against American heavy bombers in the Defence of the Reich campaign. He also covers his role in the battles of Arnhem, the Ardennes, and the D-Day landings, detailing the intricacies of military tactics, flying fighter planes and the challenges of war.

His graphic descriptions of being hopelessly lost in thick cloud above the Alps, and of following a line of telegraph poles half-buried in deep snow while searching for a place to land on the Stalingrad front are proof that the enemy was not the only danger he had to face during his long flying career.

Kaufmann saw out the war from the early beginnings of German expansion right through to surrender to the British in 1945. An Eagle’s Odyssey is a compelling and enlightening read, Kaufmann’s account offers a rarely heard perspective on one of the core experiences of the Second World War.

This is an English language translation of a book first published in Germany in 1989. It is rare in that it is the story of an ordinary airman who joined the newly formed Luftwaffe and worked his way to Captain by the end of the war, commanding a Staffell of Bf 109 fighters – Very Highly Recommended

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The result is a good insight into the life of an ‘ordinary’ Luftwaffe pilot.


A fascinating record of one man's distinguished flying career as a pilot in the Luftwaffe. Nice to read about the second world war from the opposite perspective.

Books Monthly

I think this book provides an insight into one of the members of the Axis forces’ side of the War, it shows the issues that they faced and the daily struggles they went through. It also shows the training and challenges a new pilot had to face to join the Luftwaffe. I always enjoy reading memoirs of people who were actually involved in the war, but this one ranks quite high on my list. Even though it’s translated from German it has comes across well and makes for an excellent read.

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This is a very enjoyable and enlightening book. I thoroughly recommend it.

Guy Warner, Ulster Aviation Society

This is a very enjoyable and enlightening book... I thoroughly recommend it.

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Flying in Ireland

A really good detailed account, very interesting... a really important title.

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Scale Modelling Now

Weal's writing is always a pleasure to read and if you have any of his previous translated personal accounts such as Hanning's 'Luftwaffe Fighter Ace' then this is worthy and interesting book.

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FalkeEins - The Luftwaffe blog

About Johannes Kaufmann

Born in 1915, Johannes Kaufmann left school early to work as an apprentice in an aircraft factory. In 1934 he volunteered in the newly-formed Luftwaffe, working through the ranks to become a Hauptmann by the end of the war, commanding a Staffel of Bf 109 fighters.

Kaufmann’s book, Meine Flugberichte, was published in Germany in 1989. The English translation, a never-before-seen version, has been updated to enhance his story and add greater chronological and contextual detail for the English author.

About John Weal

John Weal is an aviation illustrator and historian of many years standing. Specialising in the German Luftwaffe of World War II, he has also translated the memoirs of eight former Luftwaffe combat pilots for the English-speaking market.

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