“I wanted to take a different angle on the war. We have lots of books about Hitler and the top Nazi set but when you write about a woman, suddenly I got people saying how can you possibly pick this subject. It’s this ingrained sexism as well but it’s very important for us to understand the motives of women on both sides of the war. both these women are complicit – there’re on other ends of this spectrum – Hanna is a very fervent Nazi and very keen to support the regime with propaganda, PR, her image, everything whereas Melitta is secretly in the resistance and secretly plotting to assassinate Hitler – very different but nevertheless, Melitta’s skills are harnessed by the regime and they make good use of them.”
Today my guest is author and broadcaster Clare Mulley. Clare’s work primarily focuses on female experience during the Second World War and in this episode, we chat about two of Clare’s books, The Women Who Flew for Hitler, which tells the story of Nazi Germany’s only two female test pilots, Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg, and The Spy Who Loved, which is the story of Polish-born British special agent Krystyna Skarbek aka Christine Granville. Clare is a wonderful storyteller and our chat is full of interesting talking points, so I hope you are sitting comfortably and happy to stay with us.
We started our chat discussing how Hollywood can sometimes neglect or stereotype the role of women in war (01:18), before moving on to discussing the background of Hanna Reitsch, Melitta von Stauffenberg, and Krystyna Skarbek (03:52). I then asked Clare about the roles the women played in WWII and how circumstances dictated this (09:55), before discussing why Hanna had issues returning to post war life (14:00). We then moved on to how Clare was able to provide a balance between the two protagonists in The Women Who Flew for Hitler (19:35), followed by the story of Krystyna Skarbek in The Spy Who Loved (24:12), and the legacy of all three women (40:57). Towards the end of the episode, I asked Clare about forthcoming projects (44:30) and what she is reading, watching and listening to at the moment (44:50).
- Clare Mulley on Twitter
- Clare Mulley’s website
- The Women Who Flew for Hitler publication
- The Spy Who Loved publication
- Clare’s image by John Kerrison Photography
- For more, hear my conversation with Lt Cdr Grace Fanning, Mark Piesing and Katja Hoyer.
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