Flying Man: Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation

Flying Man: Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation

Flying Man: Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation

Flying Man: Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation


Hugo Junkers (1859-1935) was a German engineer and aircraft designer generally credited as the pioneer of all-metal airplanes. His company, Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG, more commonly referred to simply as "Junkers," became a major German aircraft manufacturer based in Dessau. From humble beginnings producing boilers and radiators, by World War II the company was producing some of the most successful Luftwaffe planes, including the Ju 88, the primary bomber of the German air force.

Hugo Junkers himself, however, was a socialist pacifist who saw aviation as a way to unify the world. Soon after the Nazi party came to power in 1933, Junkers was forced to surrender his patents, found his holdings seized by the state, and was placed under house arrest. He died in 1935, a "tortured genius" exiled from his life's work but, perhaps fortunately, spared from seeing his inventions destructively unleashed across Europe.

No biography of Junkers has been published to date. Author Richard Byers now fills that void with this compelling narrative of a man and his machines. Flying Man is a contribution not only to the history of aviation but also adds to our understanding of the consolidation of power in Germany's march toward World War II.


Dessau: The City in Green

Dessau, Germany, known to locals as the “city in green,” lies two hours south of Berlin by train. Travel to the city from the “old West” means passing through the bones of the Cold War borderlands, still distinctly obvious due to the architectural differences and the train stations—spotlessly clean and modern in the “old West” but decrepit and graffiti-covered in the “former East.” The city received a face-lift after reunification, but remains as it has been for centuries—a quiet, beautiful place. Dessau is also architecturally renowned, having been home to many in the modernist Bauhaus movement in the 1920s. Small enough to walk across in half a day, but large enough to act as regional center in an otherwise rural region, it sports a mixture of Cold War-era “Ostalgic” reminders, such as a Russian restaurant, and newer additions including a post-reunification industrial park like the ones found in most modern urban areas today, which encloses the former Junkers corporate headquarters and airfield. On these grounds is the hangar-sized Technikmuseum Hugo Junkers, a museum staffed by welcoming volunteers and former employees that celebrates the career and achievements of Professor Hugo Junkers. The Museum displays several rusting East German Air Force fighters and helicopters, as well as the broken, skeletal traces of the Junkers Corporation’s research facilities . . .

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