Berthold´s end is still somehow unclear, as several different versions exist. The

most anticipated tells the story about his attempt to leave the school through

the back of the building. The angry onlookers spotted “Blue Max” on his neck

and swarm of people attacked him. The other one says he managed to escape

the school but was recognised in the coffee bar a little bit later with similar

consequences. The third one, stating Rudolf Berthold was throttled to death

with the ribbon of his Pour le Merite as ligature, is only a myth. In any case, he

was lynched by outraged crow, suffering numerous injuries, and shot twice to

the head. According to some of the sources his face was stomped into bloody

mush and his paralyzed right arm was ripped from its socket. His corpse was

after that robbed of decorations and coat. Somebody rescued Berthold's Pour

le Merite, Iron Cross First Class, and Pilot's Badge from a garbage dump in



Iron man Rudolf Berthold: Germany´s indomitable ace of World War I; Peter

Kilduff; Grub Street Publishing 2012

Rudolf Berthold. Sieger in 44 Luftschlachten. Erschlagen im Bruderkampfe für

Deutschlands Freiheit; Ludwig F. Gengler; Schlieffen-Verlag 1934

Jagdgeschwader Nr II Geschwader Berthold; Greg VanWyngarden, Osprey

Publishing Limited, 2005



Rudolf Berthold was buried on March 30, 1920 in Berlin's cemetery the

Invalidenfriedhof next to his best friend Buddecke. On his first gravestone, since

destroyed, was allegedly stated: “Slain in the brother fight for the freedom of

the German lands."

Icon without glory

Rudolf Berthold was for sure very brave and combative man, excellent pilot,

organiser, and commander. The Nazi propaganda used all that spirit to make

him idol and martyr. There were also wreath-lying ceremonies full of the Nazi

salutations at his grave. His sister Franziska, who took so much care about him,

died in 1932, one of his brothers, three years older Arno Oskar Berthold (in

fact his step-brother, as they had different mother) moved to USA in twenties and was serving as National Guard member for some time. He died on

January 4, 1942. His son and Rudolf´s nephew become Colonel of US Air

Force in eighties.

photo: Jörn Leckscheid collection

Special thanks to Greg VanWyngaarden and

Jörn Leckscheid for photos and additional informations.

Rudolf Berthold in front of his Fokker D.VII as commanding officer of JG II.

28 eduard

INFO Eduard - January 2021