Richthofen, Wolfram Karl Ludwig Freiherr von, born on 10-10-1895, at the Richthofen Barzdorf estate, Gut Barzdorf, near Striegau, Lower Silesia to an aristocratic family. His father, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (1856–1922), and mother, Therese Gotz von Olenhusen (1862–1948) were of the Silesian nobility, and the family had been ennobled 350 years before Wolfram’s birth. Von Richthofen was the second child and oldest son of four children. His older sister, Sophie-Therese, was born in 1891, and died in 1971. His brother Manfred was born in 1898 and Gerhard in 1902. He was the fourth cousin of the German World War I flying ace Manfred von Richthofen , popularly known as the “Red Baron,” and the baron’s younger brother Lothar von Richthofen . As the son of a nobleman, he enjoyed a life of privilege. The family’s noble status dated back to the 1500s, and by the 1700s the Richthofens owned 16 estates in Lower Silesia. When Frederick the Great annexed Silesia in 1740, he personally granted the title of Baron, Freiherr, to one of Richthofen’s direct ancestors. The family remained in Silesia for a further three generations. Von Richthofen’s home, an eighteenth century estate, of which 269 was farmed and the rest was forest. Interestingly Wolfram, as the oldest son did not inherit the estate. Instead, on the death of his father in 1922, it was given to his younger brother, Manfred. Some years before, Wolfram’s uncle General of Cavalry Manfred von Richthofen, his father’s brother, who died age 84 on 28-11-1939, had asked him to inherit his estate to keep it in the family, as he himself had no children. Wolfram inherited the estate after Manfred legally adopted him. The General did not die until 1939, having lived long enough to see his nephew win success in the Spanish Civil War and in the Polish Campaig. In March 1918, von Richthofen, qualified as a pilot with German Army Air Service . After the war Richthofen studied engineering (1919-22) before rejoining the German Army. When Hermann Goering announced the formation of the Luftwaffe in 1933, Richthofen immediately joined and become one of the organizations chief technical assistants.
In 1936 Richthofen, left with Eric von Manstein went to Spain with the Condor Legion. During the Spanish Civil War he was leader of combat formations and was appointed as Chief of Staff to Hugo Sperrle.
In September 1938 he was promoted to Major General and remained to support General Bahamond Franco until returning to Nazi Germany in May 1939 when he became commander of the legion. After the outbreak of World War II von Richthofen led the 4th Air Corps, he succeeded Generaloberst Alexander Löhr and in Poland directed the attempt to destroy Warsaw. He also played an important role in the blitzkrieg tactics used during the Western Offensive. This included the use of Junkers Stuka dive bombers to give air support to Walther von Reichenau and his 6thArmy in Belgium and General Paul Kleist and his forces in France. In the Battle of Britain (see Bomber Harris) his 8th Air Corps had the mission of winning air superiority over the Royal Air Force. Like other leaders of the Luftwaffe, Richthofen was shocked to discover that the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane were able to out-perform German aircraft during the battle. In April 1941, Richthofen provided air support for the German invasion of Greece. After the battle for Crete he was awarded the Oakleaves on 17-07-1941. He then commanded the 2nd Air Force in Italy before being sent to support Field Marshal Erich von Manstein and the Army Group South during the invasion of the Soviet Union. Richthofen then had the task of supplying General Friedrich Paulus and his 6th Army that was encircled in Stalingrad. Over a 72 day period the Luftwaffe delivered 8.350 tons of supplies. Casualties were high with 488 aircraft and over 1.000 crewmen lost. On 17-02-1943, Adolf Hitler (did you know), decided that Richthofen should become Germany’s youngest Field Marshal . During the final year of the war, Richthofen was suffering from headaches and exhaustion and was diagnosed as having a brain tumor. He was sent on medical leave to the Luftwaffe hospital for neurological injuries at Bad Ischl in Austria. On 27-10-1944, he was operated on by a leading brain surgeon, Dr. Wilhelm Tönnis . Tönnis died age 80 on 12-09-1978 in Köln. Formerly a professor at the University of Würzburg, Tönnis was one of the most notable German specialists. Initially it was thought that the operation had been successful, but the tumor had only been slowed. In November 1944 von Richthofen was officially relieved of his command in Italy and transferred to the Führerreserve. His condition declined steadily in early 1945. It is thought likely that Professor Tönnis attempted second operation, but that the tumor had progressed beyond hope of recovery. Germany surrendered on 08-05-1945. The hospital was taken over by the American Third Army, “Patton’s own” , and von Richthofen became a prisoner of war.
Death and burial ground of Richthofen, Wolfram Karl Ludwig Freiherr von.
He died in captivity on 12-07-1945, age 49 and Wolfram von Richthofen is buried in a soldiers fault on the Stadfriedhof of Bad Ischel.