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Breakfast with the Kaiser

Event ID: 560

03 May 1917

50.22803678981427, 8.61048946932352

Source ID: 33

Richthofen, Beyond the legend of the Red Baron, Peter Kilduff, Arms and Armour, 1993

ISBN: 1854091271

Richthofen found his midday appointment at the Kurhaus much more to his liking. He recalled: “It was my birthday and someone must have divulged that to His Majesty and so he congratulated me. First on my success, then on my 25th year of life. He also surprised me with a small birthday present.

The description of the gift is understated. Kaiser Wilhelm II presented a bronze and marble bust of himself in martial splendour; it took two husky servants to carry it into the imperial dining room. It was a rather immodest gift, but Richthofen graciously accepted it as a singular distinction. He had it shipped home to Schweidnitz, where it was displayed proudly for many years when his family residence became the Richthofen Museum.

“The Kaiser talked with me for about a half hour after the meal; the conversation was very one-sided. The theme of the dialogue was anti-aircraft guns.” Then, switching roles from Supreme War Lord to Father of the Nation, Kaiser Wilhelm wagged his finger at Manfred von Richthofen and playfully threatened: “I have heard that you are still flying. You be careful that nothing happens to you!” Turning to his aide-de-camp, Kapitän zur See Nikolaus Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien, the monarch asked: “How could that be? Have I not forbidden him to fly?” The aide responded: “Majesty, in the interests of the whole situation, we cannot do that. We need Richthofen as an example and as a Geschwader-Kommandeur, we need him as a combat pilot…”

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