Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Looking Death in the eye...

From the ceiling of my dugout hangs a lamp which I made from the engine of an aeroplane I had shot down. I fitted small bulbs into the cylinders; and if I lie awake at night and leave the light burning, its glow is reflected on the ceiling, and God knows the effect is grotesque and weird. When I lie like this I have plenty to think about. I write it down without knowing whether anyone besides my nearest relatives will ever see it. I go around thinking of continuing Der Rote Kampfflieger and for a very good reason indeed. Now the battle that is taking place on all fronts has become really serious; nothing remains of the "fresh, jolly war" as they used to call our activities at the outset. Now we must face up to a most desperate situation so that the enemy will not break into our land. Thus I have an uneasy feeling that the public has been exposed to another Richthofen, not the real me. Whenever I read the book I smile at its brashness. I no longer have that brash feeling. Not that I am afraid, though death may be right on my neck and I often think about it. Higher authority has suggested that I should quit flying before it catches up with me. But I should despise myself if, now that I am famous and heavily decorated, I consented to live on as a pensioner of my honor, preserving my precious life for the nation while every poor fellow in the trenches, who is doing his duty no less than I am doing mine, has to stick it out.
The Red Baron died at the age of 25. 

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