The date of my birth was May 1st, 1892. A memorable day—less for the history of mankind than for myself. No matter how one may regard one's day of birth, it remains a decisive factor in the life of every human being. This sounds like philosophy. However, it is not even satirical, but a cold truth. Thirty-six years have elapsed between the 1st of May and to-day. What shall I relate and what shall I conceal?

The whir of propellers. It could be heard fifteen years ago. Always the same! Gasoline and rotating motors! Who thinks nowadays of the old Farman contrivance? What progress we have made. It is no longer an exciting question at every landing whether the propeller or motor will come crashing in upon the pilot. And so we go forward. Automobile accidents increase. Why not fly? Bleriot flew . . . across the Channel. There are many channels, but only one called The Channel. Times change.

The channel that airmen think about to-day is wider. Today it stretches from West to East, from East to West, and is called the Atlantic Ocean. Had Bleriot less courage than aviators of to-day? Was the feat he accomplished less important than the flights of to-day? No, most decidedly no ! I know the ship he flew, as I was trained with a similar type. Propeller and motor did not break my back. Yet it is a wonder that nothing happened. To fly with this machine from the British Isles to the Continent! What will our grandchildren say? Will the whir of propellers stop?

As I write, a vacuum cleaner burrs in the lobby, a reminder of the times we live in. Who was connected with aviation in 1913? Were we not Freemasons, who solidly held together? The One-eyed was given a full share, although he never obtained and will never receive a pilot's licence. He was called Huenefeld, and from his birth had only been able to see with his shortsighted right eye. That accounts for the inseparable monocle. Weaknesses may become strength! Huenefeld without a monocle would look banal and commonplace. To say more would seem immodest.

One writes, one flies, and one is flown. Bohemian remains Bohemian. Who still remembers in Berlin the Cafe Groessenwahn, its ostentatiously painted interior trying to obliterate its past? Futile attempt! The past remains the past. Maximilian Bern, publisher of the "Zehnte Muse" (Tenth Muse); small, neat, his artistic hair brushed back, with a well groomed white pointed beard, the center of our table. Into this circle I, an aviator, introduced a new note. Was not aviation in those days almost an art? It was, and will remain so. One wrote bad poems, better short stories—perhaps too many—and one really good poem. The trench-edition of the "Zehnte Muse" contained the first openly recognized product of my pen. Happy news for the seriously wounded.

The years crowd each other, 1914, 1915? No, still 1913, still the Spring and Summer of 1914. In the summer, Johannisthal The native site of German aviation. Rumpler-Taube, L.V.G., Melli Beese—names of the past. The war forced the drawing pencil into Professor Junkers' hand and he began then to construct those airplanes which ultimately were destined to serve the most peaceful purpose the world has ever known; the connection of people with people, of continent with continent.

A flying day in Johannisthal, arranged by three to four persons, doctors to be, young naval officers and myself. Badly ironed top hats, waving black cloaks, enormous field glasses. "Hallo" all along the line. "Have you all gone mad ?" "Are you having an aviation meeting?" Was there such a thing in those days? Very improbably. We created new modes, transferred racing track manners to the young aviation field. We were almost beaten by enraged and laughing comrades and friends, to whom we had to stand drinks. Who had money in those days? We had not. The old Major von Huenefeld had to give his son 300 Marks—on the 1st of August, 1914—in order to enable him to redeem his watch and chain, tie pins, his ring with the family crest on it that he had pawned. Herr Hahn, the head waiter at the Cafe Groessenwahn had also to be satisfied. Who never knew whether we would live the next few days. We had to leave our house in order.

Masters Schoene and Schiovani, in the days when our paths first crossed, had you heard of propellers? Hardly! But you directed along sensible lines the enthusiastic love of my brother and myself for sports.

When I was thirteen years of age, and my brother fifteen, we started fencing. My Father was a member of the Board of Directors of the German Government Committee for Olympic Games, and co-operated eagerly in the develop- went of new sports. Athens 1906—a promising feat. The next Olympic fight should be welcome to my brother and myself as foil fencers. We set about training. Illness came creeping along insidiously. Weeks and months passed. The fifteen year old youth had to give up all sports on account of kidney trouble and a weak heart. But they could not control my longings and thoughts. My love of sport remained. Time passed; at last I was free, and the years in which I had to accept medical warnings and advice were behind me.

Johannisthal ! I think of many nights in overcrowding cafes; frothing glasses sealed the pact "We fly." The mornings followed. The night's rest? What of that? The young do not need sleep. The day's work? What are cigarettes for? They keep us awake.

I think of my early youth and of good old priest Hoehne, so good a Christian, one of the most industrious of men. For three and a half years you directed, not without effort, the studies of the Huenefeld brothers. What has become of your old protege? Do not worry. The spirit of Goethe, whom you always worshipped as one of the greatest of Germans, whose importance you succeeded in impressing upon us as children, will always be venerated by the sports-bohemian. Did not Goethe utter the motto—which is that of my life—"Denn ich bin ein Mensch und das heisst ein Kaempfer sein" (Fo I was a man, and that means to be a fighter) we love to fight. For the sake of the fight? Drily the mature man sees clearly the driving at. Youth wants to fight. seals, but still they are ideals. Who in the ill-reputed room of the Cafe L, the meeting place of Johannisthal night? The great names of brothers Jeanin, Leitsch, Hans, Reiterer pass before my eyes. Whereever they were, there the fight was in a sporting manner. While glasses were tinkling? Yes, then more than ever. Then fell all the barriers of nationality. We had one aim: “Conquering the air."

I must go back to earlier days. My grand-parents estate in far away Masuren had been sold; my father's estate disposed of in the same manner. It was not until 1903 that we acquired piece of land in the vicinity of Berlin. Since my father's sudden death, due to heart fail-three days before our first attempt to cross the ocean, my mother has made her home there. His death remains still a very sad memory, even of our successes. The veteran soldier who looked  forward so proudly during the August days of 1927, who anticipated a happy conclusion to our risky undertaking, was not allowed to live to see the accomplished feat.


Happy days of childhood emerge. The delicate mother fighting always against illness, an inheritance passed on to the younger son; the parents' home the meeting place of intellectual people; the hospitality simple, the artistic and intellectual pleasures on a high level. And so grew up the two sons, my elder brother and myself. Later on as students we sat in the gallery in the Royal Opera House as often as our purse and time permitted us.

I still remember the first military training in my early youth! The ex-Gendarmery Sergeant and Magistrate Secretary of the city of Berlin, Paul Elgner, was filled with happiness when we spoke to him a few years ago about our first drilling. It was he who instructed us brothers, at our father's request. "Slow step," "present arms," "march," varied with gymnastics, not to forget target practise—such was the routine we went through. "Discipline of the body creates discipline of the mind." This theory I consider correct enough for a life motto. Others might be of a different opinion.

The colorful years crowd one another. The first period of the war makes me a cripple. For years I am forced to walk on crutches. The great surgeon Lexer performs one operation after another. The last operation, two years ago, restored both my legs to equal length, and gave me full freedom of motion. The Private Assistant of Privy Councillor Bier, Dr. Krueger, who in spite of his young years, was one of the oldest and most faithful friends of my parents, removed from my left leg two centimeters of bone, restoring it to its normal position; and now nobody would notice from my gait any sign of the shrapnel splinters which shattered and maimed both my legs. The smell of the fumes of chloroform and ether come back to me. Altogether it required eleven operations to undo the ill effects of the War. Professor Gross in Bremen during the autumn of 1926 removed a third part of my stomach.

How did I have time to marry? Yet I am married! Moreover I am living in bigamy, and if I look at it clearly, I have three wives. Yet I am neither a Turk nor a Mormon. My first love was my pen, to which I have always remained faithful. It would be going too far to count up all my "immortal works,"—poems, dramas published in Germany. Good friends like Koehl insist that nowhere could they find a better nightcap. My political articles and manuscripts belong to my marriage to politics. A dangerous topic, and yet I must mention it. I have repeatedly emphasized during the enthusiastic days of my round trip in America that only a patriot can understand a patriot, and that only he who loves his own country with his whole heart and soul can respect and honor other nations and countries, and so arrive at that understanding and goodwill which tends closely to bind all the nations. This thesis represents my conception of life. I have stood long and striven hard in, political fights, and shall never be so cowardly as to deny this.

My third wife, the unhappiest love of my life, is aviation. I have previously mentioned that my eyes, hardly able to see stereoscopically, overestimate or underestimate distances. The Crown Prince, with whom I spent two years in Wieringen, complained lately that during my last visit in Oels, I did not break any glasses and did not spill any wine. He insisted that a visit of mine, without such displays of awkwardness, could not be called a visit at all. He may be right, but I believe I did not have a chance in those days to pour out my drinks.

One must recognize one's own weaknesses. A landing effected by myself could be successful only by chance. But I love this third wife of mine, maybe because she is so hard to master, with the same if not more fervor than I love the other two.

How one's energies are dissipated! 'What life is not frittered away! The simple straight line contains more curves under the microscope than the onlooker would suspect. I am becoming philosophical. Perhaps my professors in Berlin who lectured me on philosophy years ago, would be glad to see that their relentless efforts were not quite in vain. To graduate I had no time, and did not feel like it. But let us leave that alone.

The impressions of the war began to fade. For us, who had then tasted the first charm of youth, the years 1914-1918 will always remain an unforgettable experience. But somehow the world carried on; and now my great concern is that my hair is gradually disappearing. Soon I shall be on the threshold of senility. No wonder my gaze turns backward, and is only directed forward if new struggles and adventure loom up in front of me. So I will close this section of our book with a few more recollections.

Comparatively early I came in contact with persons whose names were already historical or have since become so. Who knew in 1914 the "Seeteufel" ( The Sea Devil) ? At that time his deeds lay hidden in the future. He was simple and modest; the Naval First Lieutenant Count Luckner, but in some respects a queer fellow even in those days. Luckner, do you still remember the days we spent together in the Naval Hospital in Hamburg? Your desire for activity actually precipitated you into an almost unnecessary operation. Was not the Privy Councillor Lexer a fatherly and understanding soul, willing to gratify even that whim of yours? At eight o'clock in the morning the operation took place and your appendix was removed. At 4 P.M. you sat on my bed smoking a pipe. I can still see you, slightly bent forward in order to prevent the newly sewn up wound from tearing open. All my protests were ignored. You sat like a rock on my bed until late in the evening, when the nurse finally succeeded in overcoming your obstinacy and induced you to go to bed. In spite of all our pains we spent many happy days in the small officers' quarters in the Naval Hospital, which originally was intended for the purpose of putting up emigrants of the Hamburg America Line. Did not Sister Elise and myself mail you your appendix well preserved in alcohol? If you should read these lines, remember your old comrade of the war.

Unforgotten are the years after the war on the island of exile in Wieringen. The thunderbolt had struck; old landmarks had been swept away. During the first years of his exile I was privileged to live with the man upon whose brow it once seemed that the Imperial Crown of Germany would rest. Not a word about politics! I am merely recalling the human interest of those years, years which were an unforgettable experience. To make the best of his fate was always his motto. Never a word of complaint passed his lips, in spite of the very primitive conditions under which we lived. Imagine two or three rooms in a tiny house, devoid of the simplest comforts. Thick fog day and night, oozing in through cracks in the doors and through crevices in the badly fitting windows. In order to obtain some protection from the cold we spent a large portion of the first weeks in bed,—beds which were, however, damp. Holland had no coal, and no coal oil to keep the lamps burning. It was the Post-War period! Writing and reading our chief occupation; long chats at night. Later it was made public how those five years were spent. I do not wish to say another word about them.

Eventful years in Germany had brought about many changes. Who still thinks of the inflation period? Goods were bought and sold without having even been seen. The frontiers were guarded, but goods and money nevertheless passed out of the country. The misery and need of the times resulted in dishonesty. Organizations attempted to regulate the order of economic life, but they collapsed as all unnatural institutions do. For two years I acted myself in an official capacity, endeavoring to seize and realize in the interest of the government goods illegally imported or exported. I became Manager of the "Realization Department of the Reichs-Finance-Administration" in Bremen. There my old friendship with the Kaffee Haag King, Ludwig Roselius, brought me much happiness. I discovered furniture vans supposedly carrying household articles over the frontier, which in reality contained marble crosses stuffed with paper marks amounting to milliards. As I said, necessity often drives people to dishonesty. In hard times bad elements rise to the surface. But slowly conditions improved; the mark became stabilized, and the German Mercantile began to resume operations.

In 1923 I joined the Norddeutscher Lloyd as a syndic. There I was in a better position to watch economic progress. My three wives were still with me, having remained true to me as I to them. My spare time was devoted to them, and one day my plans for the Ocean flight were ready. My life does not end with it. Or maybe it does? Nobody can look into the future. So far my life has had a meaning. What will the next years bring?



It is possible, although rather improbable, that there will be readers unable to follow my thoughts, who will not clearly understand how I lived my life. For such readers, few though they may be, I am giving the following table:

Born May 1, 1892, in Koenigsberg, Prussia.

Schools : Gymnasium Steglitz, near Berlin. (A school preparing for the university, the classical languages being an essential part of the curriculum.)

From 1911 studying at the University of Berlin. Active as a writer from that date onward (philosophy and literature).

1914: Seriously wounded outside Antwerp.

1916: Spring, official mission in Sofia and Constantinople.

1916: Autumn, Imperial German Vice-Consul in Maastricht (Holland)

1918: November, Resigned from the Governmental service.

Until 1920 in Wieringen.

From 1921 Manager of the Realization Department of the Reichs-Finance-Administration in Bremen.

From the Spring 1923 Syndic of the Norddeutscher Lloyd in Bremen. At the same time devoting much time to aviation, writing and political activities.

The future: full of cares because of my liking for extravagant adventures.

Marriage and year of death: yet uncertain.