Remember all those bad war movies that came from the BBC and all the german character’s had an english accent? Or in more modern movies when they start speaking in a foriegn language and than transition to english, to take a nod at the actual language spoken? I suppose Merryl Streep was the star of practiced accents that won her a few awards in films like “Sophie’s Choice”. Jack Hunter was drawn to the german language early in life as a huge aviation fan who wanted to read Baron von Richthofen’s autobiography. His knowledge of the german language shaped his life when he entered into military service during World War 2 and became involved in secret missions in Germany.
When he wrote “The Blue Max” he filled the book with german language particularly when attempting to describe military leadership and aviation terminology. The german words stand out because they are always in italics. I hope eventually to include these word and their definitions in this blog as a glossary so I can use them as a reference when I start writing the script for the graphic novel. What follows is fast look at some of the key military terms that show up in the book with what definitions I could muster from from the internet.
Those with more knowledge than me feel free to post corrections or sources so I can make these more accurate!
German Air Force Structure
Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte “German Air Force” of World War 1
Die Fliegertruppen The air arm of the German Army(of which it remained an integral part) during World War 1 (1914–1918). Often referred to as the “Imperial German Air Service”
Jagdstaffeln (often abbreviated to Jastas) Specialized fighter squadrons in the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I.
Jagdgeschwader A fighter unit of the German Luftstreitkräfte, comprising of multiple Jastas or ‘fighter squadrons‘. Jagdgeschwader 1 or JG1 was formed as combination of Jastas 4, 6, 10 and 11 formed on 24 June 1917, with Manfred von Richthofen as commanding officer, by combining . JG 1 became known as “The Flying Circus”.
Jadggruppe Likely an even larger combination of Jastas
Leadership Terms used in “The Blue Max”
Kofl…”The Kommandeur brought us greetings from the Kofl himself”…Headquarters?
Kommandeur General der Luftstreitkräfte Commanding General of the Air Service
Kogenluft.…”the cadaverous major from Kogenluft” I am guessing that this is a slang abbreviation of Kommandeur General der Luftstreitkräfte
Kommandeur der flieger….”We completed our business with the Kommandeur der flieger in short order”..Commander of the Flyers
Rittmeister...as in “Rittmeister Von Richtofen”. In German language literally Ride master or Cavalry master was the military rank of a commissioned cavalry officer in charge of a squadron (a troop in the United States), the equivalent of O3 or Captain, in the armies of German-speaking, Austro-Hungarian and some other states
Jastafuhrer Leader of a German Squadron, Stachel referred to Heidemann this way when he want to show high respect, instead of Hauptmann
Kettenfuhrer A Kette is a group of planes, like a flight, so I assume this is the “flight leader”
Kanone…as in “ Heidemann, a full fledge Kanone with forty victories..” Kanone can be translated from German as “cannon.” A looser translation as used by the Kaiser’s airmen meant “big gun” or “big shot” reserved for the ace airman.
List of Characters and their Rank
Major Klingel …a Major assigned to publicity for Kogenluft
Hauptmann Otto Heidemann…the Captain of the Squadron
Oberleutnant Karl-Heinz Kettering…Adjutant…Administrative Assistant to the Captain
Leutnant Bruno Stachel.…A pilot in the squad
Unteroffizier Gerhardt Rupp…”Uffz”…like a supply sargent
Leutnant Ziegal, Mechanic