In The Canadian Jewish News, Janice Arnold reports that the Vancouver-based Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide (IWAW), a non-profit sponsored partly by Air Canada, is honoring Hanna Reitsch for her barrier-breaking role as first woman helicopter pilot. “The problem,” writes Arnold, “is that Hanna Reitsch was a Nazi, and apparently an unrepentant one.”
This seems to me (and, according to the story, to B’nai Brith) like a deal-breaker: It’s good and well to celebrate women’s professional achievements, but how about not ones within Nazism? Is that too much to ask?
Arnold reports that “Mireille Goyer, founder and president of IWAW, defended her choice, arguing that Reitsch’s historic achievement and talent as an aviator, as well as her postwar work in Africa, are distinguishable from her politics.”
Hmm. In my opinion, no, a Nazi pilot’s achievements in aviation can’t be separated from the “politics” in question. I’m not sure which branch of feminism it is that celebrates Nazi women for professional achievements, only that it’s not one I’d want any part of.
Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.