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John C. Hook’s visit to the Richthofen Museum

Event ID: 751

01 January 1934

Władysława Sikorskiego 19, 58-105 Świdnica, Polen

Source ID: 62

Inside the victories of Manfred von richthofen - Volume 2, James F. Miller, Aeronaut Books, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935881-43-8

However, this bedroom was not the room in the post-war museum that contained Richthofen’s souvenirs. This was confirmed in a 1934 issue of Popular Flying that included the article A Visit to the Richthofen Museum, written by John C. Hook after he personally visited Schweidnitz and toured the museum, which opened to the public on 21 April 1933, the fifteenth anniversary of Richthofen’s death. Wrote Hook: “Driving down the Richthofen Strasse, I arrived at an imposingly large house which a placard proclaimed to be the Museum. At the entrance an attendant sold me a ticket and numerous postcards, as well as a leaflet, written by Freifrau v. Richthofen herself describing the exact manner in which her son was killed. On ascending the stairs, which are decorated with hunting trophies of the Richthofen family, I arrived in a long corridor from which five rooms all led off, this is the Museum. “ 

Hook visited all five rooms and detailed their contents thusly: 

Room 1: This room focused on Lothar and his accomplishments. One wall contained photographs of Lothar, fabric swatches of souvenired serial numbers and roundels, and a complete victory list. The next wall focused on Lothar’s credited victory over Albert Ball (today it is known Ball was not shot down by Lothar; instead, although the men were involved in the same air battle, Ball likely suffered spatial disorientation in cumulonimbus clouds and emerged inverted at a too-low altitude to recover from his unusual attitude before fatally impacting the terrain), which includes a Vickers machine gun, ammunition belts, flare guns, and various airplane instruments. It also included painting of Ball, whose father sent it as a gift to Kunigunde, along with “a beautifully phrased letter.” The two other walls contained more fabric swatches and “two propellers from machines Lothar flew.” A glass case stood in the room and contained a model of Lothar’s Albatros D.III, his medals, and a cigarette case “with the inside autographed with the names of about 30 famous aces.” It also contains a cigarette case and cufflinks that Manfred received as gifts from the Kaiser and Kaiserin.

Room 2: This room focused on Manfred. The walls contained the fabric swatches of serial numbers and roundels, as well as many framed documents and photographs. (Photographs reveal that the swatches of airplane fabric were now been applied to some sort of sturdy backing and fitted with clasps or grommets used to affix the souvenirs to the walls, as opposed to tacking the fabric directly to them as had been done in the past.) Also adorning the walls were flare guns, sections of propellers, entire rudders, Lewis ammunition drums, a bell made out of an engine cylinder, and a Lewis machine gun said to be from Richthofen’s eleventh victory, Lanoe Hawker. Along one wall was a bust of Kaiser Wilhelm, presented to Richthofen by the Kaiser himself, and angled in a corner was a wood and glass case containing, amongst other items, the small silver “victory cups” Richthofen had made after every victory, up to number 60. In the middle of the room sat a table built from pieces of old wooden propellers, as did another glass case that contained various items that included the leather flight helmet Richthofen wore when shot in the head on 6 July 1917, the bullet hole of which was well visible. Prominent on the wall was a large color painting of Richthofen, done by Fritz Reusing, and from the ceiling hung the rotary engine chandelier seen in so many photographs.

Room 3: According to Hook, this room was “of little Interest.” It contained “about five” hunting trophies and various photos of German and Russian delegates at Brest-Litovsk.

Room 4: This room featured a glass case that contained the letters Manfred had written to RUnigunde from the front, and presumably on the walls were “photos of almost all the prominent German Aces, including signed portraits of Loewenhardt, Schaefer, Bolle and Wolff.” As an aside, Hook mentioned that Kunigunde told him that Wolff had been a “frequent visitor to Schweidnitz, ” although the author has not yet unearthed information or photographs regarding such visits.

Room 5: A portrait of Hermann Göring hung above the entrance to this room, which had been Richthofen’s bedroom and where all of his souvenirs originally resided. Hook described the room as “almost chapel-like in appearance, for it contains the cross which the British erected over Richthofen’s grave in France, around which are heaped wreaths.” Against the wall a glass case contained Richthofen’s Uhlan uniform and fur coat, and upon a pedestal another case displayed his Ordenkissen with all of his medals. On the wall above these decorations hung the zinc plate originally fitted to his first coffin at Bertangles, and to the left of this plate was the streamer and photo the RAF dropped across the lines to confirm Richthofen’s death.

Here is the official inventory of items displayed at the Richthofen Museum, as translated from a Museum brochure:


  1. Manfred’s Uhlan saber.
  2. A stirrup a grenade went through. The horse was killed, Manfred remained unharmed next to it with a shredded cloak.
  3. Russian cavalry trumpet.
  4. Russian war postcards.


Room 1: Lothar Freiherr von Richthofen. 

  1. Albatros airplane model [Albatrosl D.III.
  2. Photo of Captain Albert Ball.
  3. Fuel pipeline from the aircraft of Cpt. Ball, with a bullet hole from Lothar’s machine gun.
  4. This letter was written to Frau v. Richthofen by the father of Albert Ball, who was shot down by Lothar.
  5. Machine gun of Captain Albert Ball with a bullet hole [caused] by Lothar.
  6. English steel helmet.
  7. Flare guns.
  8. Lothar’s portrait, by professor Fritz Reusing.
  9. Two propellers of Lothar’s.
  10. Board of factory placards of shot-down English aircraft.
  11. Lothar’s Ordenkissen [medals].
  12. Swedish sword, a present of honor.
  13. The airplane with which Lothar crashed once during the war; Lothar was badly wounded. [Presumably a photo.]

On the walls [are serial] numbers of English aircraft and photographs of Lothar.


Room 2: Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen. On the walls [are the] original numbers of English airplanes shot down by Manfred

1. Oil painting of Manfred, by Professor Fritz Rueusing.

 2. Machine gun of Major Hawker.

  1. Flare guns.
  2. Center-piece of an English propeller, with altimeter.
  3. Reception of a just shot-down Englishman. [Likely photograph with Algernon Bird.]
  4. Bell [made] from an engine cylinder, from Manfred’s airfield at Douai.
  5. Cupboard with silver goblets. Each goblet carries the date of the victory, the type of English airplane, and the names of the witnessing fighter pilots.
  6. Manfred won this goblet as a prize after a crosscountry [equestrian] ride, which he finished with a broken collar bone.
  7. Present to Frau von Richthofen by the Navy.
  8. Riding trophies from the time with the Uhlans.
  9. Table [made] from propeller wood.
  10. Chandelier made from an English engine.
  11. English war trophies.
  12. This [flight helmet] was worn by Manfred when he received a head shot, which robbed him of his eyesight for moments. He landed as if through a miracle.
  13. Kaiser bust of gold bronze.
  14. Present from the Unteroffizier Weih on the 50th aerial victory.
  15. Factory placards from shot-down English aircraft and badges of their pilots.

Room 3:

  1. Head of a wisent [bison], shot at [the hunting grounds of] Prince Pless at Pless.
  2. Head of a boar, shot in France.
  3. Head of an elk, shot in East Prussia.
  4. Table with elk feet.
  5. The Russian delegation in Brest-Litovsk.
  6. The German delegation in Brest-Litovsk.
  7. The Czar’s castle at Bialowes, in which Manfred and Lothar [stayed].

Room 4:

  1. Excellency von Hoeppner.
  2. Oberst Thomsen.
  3. Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke.
  4. 4. Leutnant Schaefer.
  5. Leutnant Wolff 1 [Kurt Wolff].
  6. Leutnant Hans Joachim Wolff
  7. Leutnant Almenröder.
  8. Leutnant Voss.
  9. Leutnant Böhme.
  10. Leutnant Löwenhardt.
  11. Leutnant Leffers.
  12. Leutnant Loerzer.
  13. Hauptmann Goering.
  14. Oberleutnant Freiherr von Boenigk.
  15. Leutnant Udet.
  16. Leutnant Klein.
  17. Hauptmann Ritter von Tutscheck.
  18. Leutnant Laumann.
  19. Oberleutnant Berthold.
  20. Leutnant Baeumer.
  21. Hauptmann Brandenburg.
  22. Leutnant Immelmann.
  23. Jagdstaffel ll.
  24. Jagdgeschwader Nr, (drawing by Professor Busch)

Room 5:

    1. Cross from Manfred’s grave at Fricourt.
    2. The British had attached this zinc placard on the coffin; it has been underground for 18 years.
    3. Manfred’s Ordenkissen.
    4. Air mail and photos of the grave at Bertangles— dropped over the German lines by the British.
    5. Photos of the burial through the British Royal Flying Corps at Bertangles,
    6. Photos from the burial in Berlin.

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