Text: Jörn Leckscheid
The Red Combat Flyer
Manfred von Richthofen
When asking a regular person on the street
to name a famous soldier from the First
World War, the answer is most likely going
to be “The Red Baron”.
Richthofen family were actually “Freiherren”.
The translated term gained popularity in postwar times, especially when cartoonist Charles
M. Schulz had his cartoon character “Snoopy”
fighting imaginary dogfights against the “Red
Baron” in his equally imaginary Sopwith Camel in
the 1960s and 70s.
Manfred and his sister Elisabeth (born 1890),
more commonly called “Ilse”, were to be joined
by two more brothers: Lothar was born two years
after Manfred, and Karl Bolko Alexander, usually
called by his second name, completed the quartet
in 1903. By then, the von Richthofen family had
moved from Breslau to Schweidnitz.
In August of the same year, at the age of 11,
Manfred was obliged to join the Cadet Academy at
Photo: author's collection
The full name and title of the person behind
this moniker was Manfred Albrecht Freiherr
von Richthofen, who was born on May 2, 1892,
in Breslau as the second child and first son of
Kunigunde and Albrecht von Richthofen. The
term “Red Baron” was bestowed upon as the
Anglo-American translation of his Prussian
rank of nobility: The male members of the von
Manfred von Richthofen (left) chats with Jasta 10 commander and fellow Pour le Mérite ace Lt. Hans Klein during the First Fighter Competition in Berlin-Adlershof
in January 1918. Von Richthofen held Klein in high regard and valued his leadership qualities.