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The Kaiserin

Event ID: 561

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, too, was no courtier, but he knew the role he had to play. The following day Ltn Krefft, who delayed his own leave to enjoy life among the luminaries of the German Empire, flew Richthofen to Bad Homburg vor der Höhe. The old spa city, northeast of Frankfurt am Main, was one of the great playgrounds for Europe’s rich and royal families. The most important guests  arrived at the Kaiserbahnhof, a special wing of the main railway station. It therefore caused a local commotion when Krefft and Richthofen arrived in a great open field in an LVG C.V two-seater.

Lothar von Richthofen recounted what Manfred told him about the reception: “The Kaiserin had such interest in aviation that she herself appeared at the airfield. During the flight my brother wore the old leather jacket in which he had achieved all of his aerial victories.  Right after landing he reported to the Empress. In order to justify to some extent that he had dressed in his old leather jacket for this ceremonious occasion, he told her that he had won 52 aerial combats with it. The Empress stroked the jacket and said: “The good jacket, you have gone through 52 aerial victories with it.”

Bad Homburg had been spared the wartime deprivation of other German cities and, much to the Empress’s liking, was almost devoid of the blur of uniforms seen in Bad Kreuznach. The arrival of the famous flyer became a marvellous diversion. Although forbidden to fly, Richthofen could not resist starting the two-seater’s engine and taxiing across the broad lawn, raising a wind at every turn.

Empress Auguste Victoria presented Richthofen with a belated birthday present, ‘a gold and white enamelled cigarette case inscribed with her name’, a reminder of his new status as a national hero. With that status came a greater degree of comfort and even affection for his hostess, as he recalled: “One had a feeling, as it was with Hindenburg; one was in the presence of a charming old lady, with whom one could compare an old aunt or one’s own grandmother, and easily forget that she is the Empress.”

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