Hans Baur was Hitler's pilot from his early election campaigns, when Hitler was attempting to win power and used aircraft to make personal appearances across Germany, through to the very end of the war, when he was present in the Bunker in Berlin. During that time he served as pilot and leader of Hitler's personal flight, which developed into quite a sizable unit with a variety of aircraft. Before meeting Hitler Baur had been a First World War air ace and was a pioneer of safe long range air travel in the inter-war period.
Baur always claimed to be politically neutral, and simply a pilot, but this is almost certainly not true. After ten years repeating that claim in Soviet captivity he may well have come to believe it himself, but he was a member of the Nazi party for several years before first meeting Hitler (something that Baur fails to mention in the text). Even in this book there are hints that he knew more than he lets on - some of the political discussions that he is willing to admit to show that many of his passengers (including Hitler) were very relaxed in his company, and at the end in Berlin in 1945 he attempts to convince Hitler to fly out to take refuge with a supportive Sheik, because his attitude to the Jews had made him popular in that area.
We don't get much of an insight into Hitler the Tyrant or Hitler the War Criminal. Instead we get Hitler the boss, Hitler the friend, Hitler the politician and regular glimpses of Hitler the warlord.
For me the most valuable aspect of this memoir is the insight it gives us into Hitler's methods of gaining and keeping the loyalty of his close associates - Hitler the skilful politician and Hitler the charismatic boss, taking an interest in the everyday details of his staff's lives. These early reasons for Hitler's successes are often overshadowed by the later ranting, isolated, paranoid Hitler and Baur's account reminds us of the skills that made Hitler so successful and so dangerous.
Introduction by Roger Moorhouse
1 - The First War in the Air
2 - The German Lufthansa
3 - With Hitler Over Germany
4 - The Second World War
5 - In Russian Hands
Author: Lieutenant-General Hans Baur
Year: 2013 edition of 1953 original, with new introduction