A woman's aviation group has decided to honour Hanna Reitsch, who became the first woman to ever fly a helicopter back in 'ole 1937, which seems pretty cool until you learn she was totally a literal Nazi.
Mireille Goyer, the Vancouver-based founder and president of the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide (WOAW), told CBC that WOAW is "not into making a political statement" and that "her controversial part in political history, to me, that's not relevant."
With the recognition of Reitsch coinciding with International Women's Day, WOAW has been blasted online for the decision to honour an actual Nazi.
Reitsch wasn't even an ordinary, terrible Nazi; she was an extreme supporter of Adolf Hitler and was in close contact with him (as in, there is a literal photo of her shaking his hand). Yet WOAW wants Reitsch's commemoration to be based on her achievements as a female pilot alone, rather than the part of career where she pitched the idea of enlisting a suicide squad of pilots to strategically bomb the Allies during World War II.
Honouring Nazis is a tricky affair at the best of times and the choice to commemorate Reitsch seems even more bizarre given it comes amidst a time where anti-Semitism and Neo-Nazism appears to be on the rise in Canada and the US.
But some members of WOAW seem fairly unbothered by it.
"Are we going to keep on talking about the past?" WOAW member Margureite Varin said a recent event in Montreal according to the CBC. Varin even said there are videos of Reitsch on YouTube explaining how airplanes function, adding "It's really cute to watch her talk about it. It was amazing that a woman, 80 years ago, did such a thing." Another thing this woman did 80 years ago? Nazi stuff.
Air Canada, a sponsor of WOAW, is now reconsidering their funding given the controversy. The airline said in a statement they "were not involved in the planning and choice of theme, or consulted and advised of any people being recognized. Our support is determined on an annual basis and we will be reviewing it."
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