About The Book

Under a Bomber’s Moon is the true story of a New Zealand navigator-bomb aimer with the Royal Air Force and a German night fighter pilot as they fight for success and survival over night time Germany during the bitterest years of the Second World War. In early 1944, after completing one tour of operations and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits, the New Zealander, Colwyn Jones, was killed during a raid on Berlin.

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About The Night War Over Europe

During the Second World War the night sky over Europe was one of the most lethal places to wage war. By 1945 almost half of the airmen who flew with Bomber Command and a third of the Luftwaffe night fighter crew pitted against them had been killed. Many German cities became moonscapes of rubble, their inhabitants the first to experience the reality of ‘total war’ – itself a glimpse of the destructive potential of the nuclear age about to explode in the Far East.

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16 - Unsettled History EXTRA MATERIAL

 HOW THE WAR SCARRED THE NEXT GENERATION OF GERMANS

A message from Otto-Heinrich Fries's daughter, Birgit Blumenstock

As a child and youth I often asked my father, what was it like then? How did all that happen? The answers I received weren’t always satisfactory to me. Of course, I understood his situation. But what I always felt was missing was a sense of the Big Picture. And answers like “we didn’t know about all that” or “what were we supposed to do?” made me deeply uneasy.

Against the background of getting his greeting for this website, I asked him again whether he didn’t feel an obligation– irrespective of what the strict requirements of his ‘job’ were – to express his deepest regret at how many innocent victims had been accounted for by Nazism. I pressed the point by citing the many concentration camps, such as those where my husband’s father– a Jew – had been interned, and where my husband’s grandparents had been murdered. My father believes this has nothing to do with your book.

I simply can’t understand this, and it fills me with great sadness that he wouldn’t devote a single sentence to this aspect. Is it really the case that the incomprehensible was never grappled with? That he seems unable to mourn? He admitted that he never looked at reports about the war. Why not? Why did he confine himself only to what was before his eyes?

As a child I wasn’t spared the personal consequences of ‘his war’. I remember one experience when I was a six-year-old girl. Driving to a holiday on the Baltic coast – a wonderful time for me – we visited one day, and the following year we did the same, an old flying friend of my father’s. In the car beforehand all I was told was I shouldn’t be shocked at his unusual appearance. Apparently a bomb or grenade had destroyed his face. The man I came upon was blind. He had no face, but rather a solid field of scarring: no nose, no ears, no eyes. His mouth was just a deformed slit. This is what my parents expected of me. And I just had to cope with it, even though I was so small. I don’t think I was ever asked how I felt. When I think of how scared I was and how helpless I felt….

Maybe I have no right, as someone who grew up in another time, to pass judgment too sternly, but to me the ‘stories’ about flying were always too one-sided. And it would have meant so much to me if my father had been big enough and had had the strength to talk about and face up to the terrible sadness of all the atrocities.

Why am I relating all this, you may ask? I wanted to express the fact that we, the new generation in Germany, remain deeply affected by this subject. With all respect to my parents, I don’t want to go easy on them. It is a subject – and that’s a good thing. For the generation after mine – and that includes my 22-year-old son – it is already history.

Translated by Stephen Harris. Copyright: underabombersmoon.com