Historical Social Research

Kevin T. Hall: Luftgangster over Germany: The Lynching of American Airmen in the Shadow of the Air War. [Abstract]

This study analyzes the Lynchjustiz committed against American airmen in Germany during World War II. Largely overlooked by historians, the extent of violence against flyers is drastically underestimated, hindered by the complex historical memory of the Allied air war, the arduous denazification process, and the looming Cold War of the postwar era. While the precise number of Allied flyers that experienced Lynchjustiz is impossible to determine, due to a lack of remaining records, this study provides a more accurate estimate and an improved historical analysis of the broader impact of these events on history. Lynchjustiz initially occurred as a spontaneous response to the devastating experiences of the Allied air war in 1943. The Nazi regime took advantage of German citizens’ plight to endure the overwhelming and inexorable air war that erased all physically and psychologically boundaries and attempted to harness the outrage of the German population, redirecting the anger explicitly against the new enemy in their midst. Individuals and groups of civilians, Party officials, security forces, government officials, as well as military members carried out this state-sponsored vigilantism, which was a byproduct of the political and societal instability produced by the Nazi regime.

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