FREIHERR VON RICHTHOFEN, FIELD MARSHAL DR. WOLFRAM: Germany Third Reich. 1895-1945. As a military aviator, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen participated in a leadership role in two of the most important events in the shaping of World War II perceptions of the vulnerability of cities to air attack. As a Lieutenant Colonel and Chief of Staff of the Legion Condor he was responsible for the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937. Promoted to Colonel in Januray 1938, and to Major General in September 1938, he served as the Commander of 8th Fliegerkorps in the attack on Poland and was responsible for the application of lessons from the Spanish Civil War to the bombing of Warsaw. He subsequently commanded the 8th Fliegerkorps in the Battle of Britain. Von Richthofen clearly understood the integration of fighter, level bomber, and dive bomber aircraft in what today's air combat planners term strike packages, and was a pioneer in the use of concentrated, high tempo air operations against a single target. His successful concentration of air power provided an operational demonstration of the single massive attack scenario that drove civil defense planning of the 1920s and 1930s.
Freiherr von Richtofen's military career started in 1913 as a cavalry officer, with a transfer to aviation in 1918, qualification as a pilot, and achievement of 8 kills in air-to-air combat over the Western Front. From 1919-1922 he studied engineering at the University of Hanover, and in 1923 he rejoined the Reichswehr, serving in the 1920s in a number of positions associated with Germany's clandestine efforts to rebuild its military aviation, and then in technical positions on the Luftwaffe staff in the 1930s. After successful service in a variety of command positions in World War II and promotion to Field Marshal, Freiherr von Richtofen was transferred to the reserve in 1944 as a result of a cerebral tumor, and died in a prisoner of war camp in 1945.
Sources: "General Dr. Ing. Marischal de Campo Wolfram Freiherr von Richtofen," location http://www.exordio.com/1939-1945/personajes/richthoefn.html, accessed 9 August 2003. "Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (1895-1945)," location http://www.luftwaffe39-45.historia.nom.br/richthofen_wolfram.htm, accessed 9 August 2003. "Wolfram Richthofen," location http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co,uk/GERichthofen,htm, accessed 9 August 2003.
Entry 0382 - posted 9 August 2003