This Richthofen was famed for aerial action including the Spanish Civil War, with the Condor Legion supporting Franco which was responsible for the shocking destruction of Guernica depicted in Picasso’s painting.
Wolfram began his flying career in the Red Baron’s fighting unit, Jagdgeschwader 1 (Fighter Wing 1), during the First World War. The Red Baron (Baron Manfred Von Richthofen) was actually shot down and killed defending Wolfram, unaware that he too was being tailed.
During the Second World War, Wolfram fought extensively, commanding his own air corps in Poland, France, Holland and Belgium, and the Battle of Britain, the Balkans Campaign, Operation Barbarossa and throughout Russia. He died not in battle but of a brain tumour in July 1945.
Dickins offered one of two personal photo albums belonging to him, both estimated at £8000-10,000. They had been ‘liberated’ from Richthofen’s Berlin office by a British soldier and later bought by a collector local to the Buckinghamshire saleroom, who consigned them to this sale.
The first, covering the Condor Legion period, sold for £15,000, and the second, concentrating on Barbarossa, made £25,000, with both going to the same US collector bidding on the phone.
Auctioneer John Dickins says of the Barbarossa photos: “Every one of them almost sent a chill through you. These were really very powerful images.”
The rare nature of these mostly personal pictures was key to the result. “Richthofen would actually keep a photographic record of all of his campaigns,” Dickins says. “The first album was annotated by him, the second by a member of his staff.
“There was a photographer called Hoffman, and Richthofen basically had – from what I can gather – first call on any of the photographs that he wanted. So although there are some press photos in these albums, which would have been used as propaganda, many were personal [and therefore rare].”