Author: Gunther Plüschow
Title: Die Abenteuer des Fliegers von Tsingtau [The Adventures of the Aviator of Tsingtao] Time: 1914-1915
Destination: China, also Germany, USA, UK
Length: more than 1 year
Type: war, flight
The story: At the outbreak of WW1, GP, a young pilot in the German air force, gets dispatched to the German colony of Qingdao (they called it „Tsingtau“ back then). He is supposed to be one of only two pilots on guard against the Japanese and the British there. He fights for a while, but when the fall of Qingdao is imminent, he gets sent out with some documents and tries to make his way back to Germany. Interestingly enough, because his airplane crashes shortly after, this feat also involves some walking through China. He eventually assumes a false identity and gets on a ship via Japan to the US, then on another one to Europe, where he gets taken prisoner of war by the British. He manages to flee from the UK though, too, apparently becoming the only German POW who was able to do so. At home he gets mistaken for a spy at first, but receives military honors when the whole thing gets cleared up. This book is about all this, making it a true adventure story in the sense of the word. It sold more than 600.000 copies.
Gunther Plüschow a „winner“
This was a fun read. GP is a soldier in late Imperial Germany, so his language often has an unhealthy touch of racism and chauvinism to it (especially when he’s talking about Asians). This can get annoying, but he still comes across as a pretty charming fellow. He narrates his story in a light and enthusiastic manner, making hardships appear simple and generally radiating with optimism. I think maybe this is what made the book so popular in post-Versailles Germany: GP’s optimism, and the fact that at least this one German managed to come out of the war as a sort of „winner“ – if only because he was able to escape from the UK.
read it for the story
If you are looking for something about China, then this might only be of limited interest to you. There is some information about the German colony of Qingdao though if that’s what you’re looking for. If, on the other hand, you enjoy reading adventure stories, then by all means get this book. It was written for you.