Freiherr Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen

Freiherr Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen was not only the most successful German fighter pilot in the First World War, he was also the best-known German pilot, who is known as the Red Baron to this day due to his red-painted plane after the war.



Origin and teenage years:

Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen was born on May 2, 1892, the son of cavalry officer Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen and Kunigunde von Richthofen in Wroclaw.

After the relocation of the family to Schweidnitz, Manfred began to be interested in hunting and riding at the age of 9. At age 11, he already participated in larger hunting companies.




Military career:

In 1903 Manfred began his military career with the visit Kadettenanstalt Wahlstatt from where he moved in 1909 to the main cadet institution Lichterfelde.

After completing his training, he joined in the spring of 1911 the lancers regiment "Kaiser Alexander III. of Russia "(West Prussian) No. 1 in the rank of Ensign.

The promotion to lieutenant took place on 19 November 1912.


Freiherr Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen


Manfred von Richthofen on the Sanke postcard




Use in the First World War:

After the outbreak of the First World War, Manfreds Regiment was initially transferred to the Eastern Front, but a few days later to the Western Front.

Von Richthofen first took part in the occupation of Luxembourg from her spot at Diedenhofen, followed by the invasion of Belgium. Since the war was still in motion at that time, Manfred predominantly carried out reconnaissance work behind the enemy lines as a mounted scout.

On 1 September 1914 was first transferred to the 4th Army before Verdun as a communications officer, on his personal request and a request for transfer Manfred was assigned on January 15, 1915 the 18th Infantry Brigade as Ordonnanzoffizier. Richthofen was able to fulfill his passion for hunting because of the distance to the front, but personally he was less and less satisfied.

For this reason, he changed at his request to the new flying force and began there on May 30, 1915 his training as an observer in the Flieger-Ersatzabteilung 7 in Cologne. He was then assigned on 21 June 1915 the field pilot department 69 near Lviv on the Eastern Front to perform there reconnaissance flights.

In August 1915 von Richthofen was relocated to the Western Front and there assigned to the Brieftauben Abteilung Ostende. This division was supposed to fly secretly bombing England. However, since the provided aircraft AEG G did not have the necessary range, only attacks on British ships in the English Channel and French positions were flown. Von Richthofen again requested a transfer, this time to the carrier pigeon department in Metz. On the way there, during the journey by train, he met his later squadron leader Oswald Boelcke.

In Metz Manfred earned the diploma as a pilot, flew some missions at Verdun and was assigned in September 1916 the Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 2, where he was under the command of Oswald Boelcke. Already on September 17, 1916 Richthofen was recorded on Cambrai his first shooting.

In the coming weeks Richthofen could achieve further kills. In the middle of January 1917 he recorded his 16th shooting and was awarded the Pour le Mérite medal. Shortly thereafter, he was given command of the Jagdstaffel 11, on March 22, 1917, he was promoted to lieutenant, on April 6, 1917 to Captain.

After the death of Max Immelmann on June 18, 1916 and Oswald Boelcke on October 28, 1916 Manfred von Richthofen was the most successful German aircraft and shot down alone in April 1917 20 enemy aircraft.

In June 1917, the Jagdstaffeln 4, 6, 10 and 11 were combined to the Jagdgeschwader 1 whose command was transferred from Richthofen. This injured in a dogfight in July on the head so hard that he had to make an emergency as he briefly went blind. Richthofen was never fully recovered from this injury.


Pilot of fighter squadron 1, Richthofen sits in the plane


After a long recovery and protection Manfred was ordered along with his brother Lothar von Richthofen to the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk on December 26, 1917. In mid-January 1918, after the conclusion of the negotiations, Manfred was transferred to Berlin to test new prototypes of aircraft in the testing center of the Flugzeugmeisterei.

After Richthofen was relocated to his hunting squadron again and took part in the fighting on the Western Front.




The shooting and death of Richthofen:

On April 21, 1918 Richthofen flew together with nine other airmen, a renewed deployment over the Western Front. It came to a dogfight with British airmen, with one of the aircraft tried to move away from combat. When Manfred von Richthofen pursued the plane, a bullet hit him in the right side of his body injuring his lungs, liver and heart. Von Richthofen had to land emergency due to the injury near the French community Corbie, where he found Australian soldiers. Shortly after landing von Richthofen died of his injuries.

Until today it could not be clarified, from whom the shot came to Richthofen. The three Australian air defense shooters Robert Buie, William John "Snowy" Evans and Sergeant Cedric Popkin come into question who fired their machine guns at Richthofen's plane.


The replica of a Fokker dr. I flew with the Richthofen last





On April 22, 1918, the corpse Manfred von Richthofen was buried in Bertangles by British airmen with military honors. Already at night, French villagers tried in a cowardly manner, the grave to disgrace and to pass on the corpse. The plane from Richthofens was completely disassembled by souvenir hunters.


Richthofen buried in Bertangles by British officers


By a British fighter pilot was on April 23, 1918 dropped over the airfield of the squadron news of the death of Richthofen.

In Germany, a memorial service was held on May 2, 1918 in honor of the fallen pilot. In 1923 the corpse was reburied at the behest of the French military authorities at first to the German military cemetery in Fricourt. At the request of the family, the transfer to the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin was initiated on 20 November 1925, where it was buried with great participation of soldiers and officers.

In 1975, when the Invalidenfriedhof was to be leveled by decision of the Council of Ministers of the GDR, the family could again ask for a transfer. The final resting place is now in the family grave on the South cemetery Wiesbaden.





  • Brother Lothar-Siegfried Freiherr von Richthofen
  • Brother Bolko Freiherr von Richthofen
  • Sister Elisabeth von Richthofen




The title "Red Baron":

Manfred von Richthofen is also commonly known today as the "Red Baron". However, this title was only attributed to Richthofen after the war. Although he was called by the French "The Little Red" or "Red Devil", his 1917 published autobiography was entitled "The Red Fighter" and his plane had a striking red livery, the title "The Red Baron" derives but from a translation into English.

Since the term baron does not exist in the English language, the name baron was used in the translation. As a result, only the title "The Red Baron" prevailed in connection with Richthofen.






You can find the right literature here:


The Red Fighter Pilot: The Autobiography of the Red Baron

The Red Fighter Pilot: The Autobiography of the Red Baron Paperback – June 14, 2013

The autobiography of the "Red Baron", Manfred von Richthofen, written shortly before his death in April 1918. New introduction gives a brief history of the birth of aerial combat. Illustrated.

Click here!



The Red Battle Flyer

The Red Battle Flyer Paperback – May 3, 2011

The Red Battle Flyer is Manfred von Richthofen's autobiography which mainly deals with his role as an ace Fighter Pilot in the First World War for the German forces. The book describes how he went from being a cavalry officer to an observer on an aircraft, to a fighter pilot, and finally to the most famous fighter pilot of the war. Von Richthofen provides gripping detailed descriptions of his and his comrades' exciting exploits as fighter pilots, but we also learn about the continued loss of comrades in death and the suffering of war. Von Richthofen had 80 "kills" to his name, making him the most successful flying ace during the war. He was known as the "Red Baron", where the "Red" referred to the bright red colour of his famous Fokker triplane and the "Baron" referred to his title of Freiherr, which means Baron. This thrilling account of air fighting in World War I allows us more than a glimpse into the mind and life of one of the most effective and skilled warriors of all time.

Click here!



Red Baron

Red Baron Paperback – June 14, 2013

Manfred von Richthofen - the Red Baron - was the most celebrated fighter pilot of the First World War, and was holder of the Blue Max, Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military decoration. He was credited with 80 victories in the air, before being shot down in disputed circumstances aged 26. In this autobiography Richthofen tells not only his own story but also that of his contemporaries, their duels in the sky, ever present danger, fame, honour and spiralling death.

Click here!



Richthofen & Boelcke in Their Own Words

Richthofen & Boelcke in Their Own Words Paperback – August 22, 2011

Two German Aces of the Great War

Click here!






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