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I Flew for the Führer

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  422 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Heinz Knoke was one of Nazi Germany’s outstanding pilots, and this dramatic record of his experiences, illustrated with personal photos, has become a classic among aviation memoirs. He joined the Luftwaffe at the outbreak of the war, rose to the rank of commanding officer, and received the Knight’s Cross. Knoke’s account crackles with vivid accounts of air battles; and ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Cassell (first published 1952)
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carl  theaker
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
By time you're finished reading this one, you'll swear you've put some seat time in a ME-109. The matter-of-fact, fast-paced perspective could be attributed to author-pilot Heinz Knoke's pre-war literary aspirations - it is a compelling tale.

The title does have a bit of that tabloid headline ring to it, however since it was published in 1953, you get that right after war perspective. For example, a variety of future Experten all make cameo appearances, Marseille, Rall, Barkhorn, Moritz, long
This Bantam edition of Knoke's military memoirs I read when I was in high school.

The reader immediately feels a part of Knoke’s life in the air. One of the most searing episodes in the book was when Knoke, in advanced flight training, was awaiting his turn, along with his fellow fledglings, to fly for the first time the Messerschmitt 109 (ME-109), then one of the most sophisticated fighter planes in the world. While a very nimble and durable fighter, the ME-109 was very tricky to handle at both
Elliot Jackson
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I Flew for the Fuhrer by Heinz Knoke is the most captivating book about the war I have read to date. It's simply impossible to put down. Knoke briefly documents his childhood and upbringing before getting into the main part of his story which starts with the following diary entries:

"August 31,1939
The Polish atrocities against the German minority make horrible reading today. Thousands of Germans are being massacred daily in territory which had once been part of Germany. Thousands more arrive
Jawad Usman
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't know why such books need to have an introduction from anyone, let alone some idiot... In this case the idiot said something to the affect of "I don't believe any German ace shot 150 Allied aircraft." Firstly even the Soviets were Allies, but I know he meant Western Allies (Brits and Americans). But I'll leave that hanging in the air... He doesn't seem to understand if "beliefs" changed facts, we'd all be speaking German today. Knoke does come across as an enthusiastic and devoted Hitler ...more
Big H
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very persuasive. I walked into this book thinking, "Pish, posh! Germans in WWII? I have no sympathy." I especially expected this, being a WWII British re-enactor. But I found myself CONSTANTLY cheering the main character--a German Pilot--on, hoping he knocked those damn Tommies to the ground! (And the Yanks...and the Bolsheviks...and the Frenchies...) It really turned me on my head, and was a refreshing re-look at WWII; it was good for me to see it from a different perspective, methinks. (NOTE: ...more
Phil Marsh
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. So interesting to get a perspective from "the enemy's side". The decline in his mental state and health as the wore draw on and more of his friends and colleagues were killed is clearly marked, and quite affecting. His belief in what they were doing was clearly shaken and he came to believe they had been lied to by their leaders, just as we so often feel here. Different country, different war - but we're more similar than you would think.

Very entertaining and easy to read.
Aug 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii
A book very much in the same style as -Stuka Pilot: Hans Ulrich Rudel- It reads like a flight log at many points, but unlike Stuka as a diary at others. I read this and "Iron Coffins" as I wanted to view the war from a different point of view. The view of the loser is bleak. People fighting valiantly as they dwindle in number until they are not just too few to make a difference but must undertake suicide missions as commands. Not necessarily a must read but if you want a different view, than I ...more
Michael Sloan
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best autobiographies to come from the German point of view. Knocke was an outstanding fighter pilot, with over 50 kills, and was able to survive the war.

His descriptions of air combat are riveting. His discussions of the morale and motivations of the pilots of the German Air Force offer an insight not seen elsewhere. His noting of the inevitable losses among his comrades is heartfelt.

A number of pilots, from all sides, contributed to the literature of the war. This is certainly on of
TheHenry Blank
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent account of Luftwaffe fighter pilot life on the Western front during WWII. Not so much because of the descriptions of fighter operations but because of Knoke's enthusiasm for his cause. You see, Knoke was apparently an ardent supporter of Hitler, unlike so many of his Luftwaffe contemporaries who also went on to write their own memoirs. He also believes his 'comrades' shared his own sentiments.

Knoke also makes himself the Hero of his combat memoirs, fighting the enemies of
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the silly title, this is a really good book on the aerial war from a German pilot's perspective. It's amazing to read early passages such as:

August 31, 1939
The Polish atrocities against the German minority make horrible reading today. Thousands of Germans are being massacred daily in territory which had once been part of Germany.

September 11, 1939
The war in Poland draws to its close.

How dare those Poles inflict all that horror upon the Germans.

May 10, 1940
Our armies on the West Wall
Nick Boldrini
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very readable diary style account of the authors experiences. It gives a glimpse of military life as a fighter pilot - with familiar examples (if you have read any allied accounts) of youthful lust for life to make up for the risks involved, as well as the impartiality of military careers (he is posted away from the action on more than one occasion) as well as some of the horrific experiences of combat. AS his comrades gradually die, and the war is obviously being lost, he changes from a firm ...more
Ur mom gae
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read from the German fighter pilots perspective

A great read from his early day of just trying to learn to fly to the hopelessness of the final days with so few aircraft and pilots taking on an ever increasing number of allied aircraft.
huagang yang
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read

A truthful account of a young German pilot in do or die dogfights over Europe. Highly recommend this book to any war buffs
Graham Crosby
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A great insight to what a fighter pilot went through from the initial success to the destruction and death of the Luftwaffe
Arttie Parker
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A highly informative and unique read from "the other side" of WWII. This, along with "A Higher Calling", delve into the minds and lives of Luftwaffe pilots and their views of a tumultuous time in American, German, and world history.
Glenn Gray
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fast read in paperback and provides an enlightening perspective on WWII from the perspective of a Luftwaffe flyer. Here are a few thoughts I found to be especially profound.

After being shot down in one air battle, he managed to shoot down the Allied fighter whose pilot shot him down. Both aircraft crashed in the same field and both pilots survived. They managed to locate each other and lay together nursing their injuries while awaiting rescue. They entered into a friendly dialogue,
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon this book entirely at random on a shelf at one of those 'leave a book, take a book' community library things in the CBD of Auckland, New Zealand.

I found it quite an interesting read, hearing something from the German side of the war. I found myself genuinely liking for the characters in the Author's flight wing, and mourning their loss when they were shot down.

Mr. Knoke himelf went into Politics for 2 decades from the 1950s to the 1970s, and after that went to university to study
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Bierle
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An interesting primary source introducing the German aviation side of World War II. I enjoyed this journal for its details on flight and strategy, though - being American - it was different to have the Americans and English constantly called the enemy. Good to read the other side's perspective and motivations and understand how the regular German military had no idea of Hitler's atrocities.

There is some bad language in the book (mostly mild) and some harsh realities of fatal crashes. Probably
TheIron Paw
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: military-history
Read this as part of the WWII Group's April read. This was written shortly after the war (the edition I had was published in 1951) and provides a somewhat different German perspective on the war compared to present day's historical perspectives. However, the book touches on politics only tangentially and is primarily about the author's experience as a day fighter pilot in a thoroughly readable style.
Lee Ann
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This was very exciting. He writes great dogfights without all the technical jargon. This is obviously the view from the other side but, wowza, what a story! You get a sense of being there as the Luftwaffe prepares for battle and then engages the enemy. It's neat to read what the Germans thought they were fighting for. This would make a great re-read or a companion to an American or British pilot memoir.
This was an interesting book but didn't include anything new that hasn't been in many other books. Knoke was very luck having been wounded five times and shot down a few times. Much of the book revolves around the German's dwindling resources. To the end Knope sees Germany as the worlds only hope against Bolshevism.
Jun 30, 2012 added it
I enjoyed the book very much. Easy to read in diary form and pretty unemotional, especially since it was by a combat pilot from Germany shooting down USA planes and of the type, B-17, that my dad flew in the Pacific. But there was also a pilots code of ethics that was nice to see and not a lot of blind hatred for the enemy.
Jasen Martinez
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a really interesting book. My first, and only, WWII book written from the German perspective.

I need to re-read this because it's been years since I read this but I really liked the personal stories and the insight on flying.
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you can live with such drivel as: “It is useless for us to trouble ourselves now over such academic questions as responsibility and war guilt.” Which fills part of the book. Then you are in for an entertaining yarn, which gives a good experience of the Luftwaffe during the war.
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely Fascinating. Highly recommended. Puts life into perspective.
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting look into the life of a German fighter pilot through World War II. If you are a fan of aviation or World War history I recommend you find it. If you are a fan of both buy it.
Jack Hwang
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the battles were on the west front. Knoke downed 52 Allied aircraft in about 400 missions and several of them the 4 engine heavies. Very amazing that he survived.
Neil Munday
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
brilliantly plain and honest and interesting.
Geoff Cain
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Required reading with my pals in Junior High.
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“„Eddig még senki sem maradt fönn a levegőben!” – olvasható Steiger jellegzetes macskakaparása. Pontosan tudjuk, mire gondolt a magas, szőke srác, amikor mosolygós arcképe alá firkantotta e szavakat.
Ezer fölszállás az annyi, mint ezer landolás. Így vagy úgy, de valahogy mindig le kell szállni. S aztán egy napon megtörténik az utolsó földet érés.”
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