Flight, expulsion and new beginning

On January 1945 the Red Army started a large offensive from the East, leading to the total occupation of Silesia in February 1945. Like so many the family v. Richthofen joined the trek of fugitives. This inferno has been documented in multiple records in our family archive. WWII has deracinated the family v. Richthofen from its Silesian „Heimat“.
Seventeen cousins died during the War or its aftermath. The survivors struggled to secure elemental needs and had to plan their future under uncertain conditions. The elder family members that had not been active in the War tried their best to sustain the younger ones. The main burden rested on the women, since men had either fallen in the War or were kept as military prisoners. All Richthofens knew that only a good education could reverse this tragic fate. Those without professional degree continued their education under the most difficult circumstances, started an apprenticeship, began or completed their dissertation.
The family council was re-founded in 1961. Our family members were able to prove themselves in many ways in the early days of the „Wiederaufbau“ of Germany and the integration within the free world. Their choice of profession and dedication to their occupation reflects the many talents of the family members and is testified by various activities in research, education, administration, medicine, technology, culture, pedagogy, aviation and entrepreneurship, amongst others.
A first family reunion in Silesia took place in 1992. It was as re-encounter with the Silesian „Heimat“ and a sign of reconciliation with the Polish population that had earned their rights in this beautiful place.
Our family laid a wreath at the location of the Concentration Camp Groß Rosen in commemoration to the victims of the Terror regime and the War. The ribbon read in German and Polish language the Jewish proverb: „The secret to salvation is remembrance“.

The family v. Richthofen is part of a group of benefactor families of the  Friedenskirche zum Heiligen Geist in Jauer.
The name of the church commemorates the Westphalian peace treaty at the end of the 30 Years War. As a sign of reconciliation with Poland and under the restless commitment of Siegfried our family restored the organ of the church. It also Siegfrieds commitment that lead to the classification of both churches in Jauer and Schweidnitz as UNESCO world heritage in 2001.
We will close the survey of the Richthofen family history with the latest genealogy of a few members that left us in the meantime:

  • Eleonore (1923-2005), Damsdorf, Dr. phil., Dr. med., Gynaecologist
  • Manfred (1931-2012) Barzdorf, Farmer in Angola
  • Joachim (1933-2012), Barzdorf, Author of Bridge-Manuals
  • Götz (1925-2012), Bersdorf, Entrepreneur
  • Ullo (1894-1971), Gäbersdorf and Faulbrück, longtime president of the family council



Ullo Freiherr v. Richthofen (1894-1971)

  • Anna-Elisabeth (1919-2007), Kuhnern, nurse, longtime chronist of the family council



Anna-Elisabeth (Annali) Freifrau v. Richthofen (1919-2007)

  • Bolko (1903-1971), Director of the Spielkasino in Baden Baden
  • Wolf-Manfred (1922-2010), Cammerau, Entrepreneur in Schweden
  • Manfred (1934-2014), Präsident des Deutschen Sportbundes (DSB), Mitglied des Nationalen Olympischen Komitees (NOK)

Manfred Frhr. v. Richthofen (1934-2014)

  • Klaus-Ferdinand (1941-2012), Dr. jur., Secretary of State in Hannover
  • Herbert (1900-1966), Neidchen,  Custodian after the War
  • Heinz (1904-1976) Plohe, Farmer in Canada
  • Fritz (1911-1987), Dürrjentsch, PR-Manager
  • Kraft (1919-2010), Leipitz, Industrial tradesman
  • Wolfgang (1909-2000), Leipitz, Farmer in Canada
  • Erich (1913-1989), Leipitz, Dr. phil. habil., Professor for Romanistics at the University of Toronto, Ontario



Erich Freiherr v. Richthofen (1913-1989), Leipitz, Professor

  • Oswald (1908-1994), Ambassador, longtime president of the family council



Oswald Freiherr v. Richthofen (1908-1994), Ambassador

  • Hartmann (1912-1996), Entrepreneur
  • Heinz Lothar (1899-1952), Tradesman, Consul of the Dominican Republic



The chronist would like to mention one cousin that can stand for all those contemporary Richthofens, that devoted their lives to serve others; deaconess Barbara von Richthofen (born 1919), Groß Rosen/Riemberg. Since her youth she followed the example of Eva v. Tiele-Winckler, an extraordinary personality of the deacon that had learned nursing for the sick in v. Bodelschwinghs foundation Bethel. Barbara eventually became deaconess in Bethel, where she had started as helper in 1937 at the age of 18, before handing over her duties as abbot to the Diakonissenschaft Sarepta because of her advanced age.


Diakonisse Barbara von Richthofen (geb. 1919)

Over the course of the last 450 years the family v. Richthofen outlasted uprooting and expatriation while constantly facing new challenges.


World Wars  <  Flight, expulsion and new beginning  >  Notes on the family history