German Fighter Ace Red Baron’s Death Certificate Found

December 8, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Manfred von Richthofen, the famed World War I German fighter ace known, as the “Red Baron” was shot down over Amiens, France, on April 21, 1918 at the age of 25. Recently, a Polish historian researching archives in Wielkopolski, Poland discovered the official death certificate of the Red Baron, unceremoniously stored in a dusty registry book. The handwritten form was notable for its succinct and bureaucratic language, with no mention of Richthofen’s accomplishments as one of the most revered fighter pilots in German history.

Maciej Kowalczyk chairman of Ostrów’s Genealogical Society, was researching the deaths of soldiers, when he happened upon the volume containing Richthofen’s death certificate. He was surprised to find it there in Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland. But Richthofen was stationed there before deployed going to war in 1914 as a cavalry officer.

“I was surprised that it is a small document, just like for any other ordinary soldier, and does not mention that he was a fighter ace,” Kowalczyk said. The death certificate made no mention of Richthofen’s 80 confirmed kills or the controversy over the identity of the person who shot the Red Baron down.

The certificate, dated August 26, 1918, misspells Richthofen’s name as “Richthoven” and notes that he “died April 21, 1918, from wounds sustained in combat,” said the surprised historian.

Richthofen was the most successful flying ace during World War I, where he commanded the famous squadron known as “The Flying Circus.” He received his nickname, due to the bright red color of his plane and his aristocratic lineage.

Canadian Captain Arthur “Roy” Brown is credited with shooting down the Red Baron, but later accounts point to an Australian machine-gunner on the ground, who is more likely responsible for Richthofen’s death.

The Red Baron was respected for his combat skill by rival Canadian, British and Australian fighter pilots and he was accorded a rare burial with full honors by his enemies in France.



One Response to “German Fighter Ace Red Baron’s Death Certificate Found”

  1. Death Certificate on December 22nd, 2009 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the very intesting article. Will the cerificate be displaye somewhere? Wasthe authenticity of it confirmed?

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