|Peter Ernst Riedel Grouping
Glider Champion and WWII German Air Attache
8/24/1905 - 11/6/1998
|Recently, I had the rare opportunity to obtain a grouping of items related to a true aviation pioneer and personality in the soaring and gliding
community. This page is dedicated to the original owner of these items, soaring legend Peter Ernst Riedel. These items that once belonged
to Mr. Riedel are now cherished items in my collection and are NOT for sale. These items will forever remain a permanent part of my
collection and will be preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from. Pictured above is the five booklet grouping related to Herr
This page is dedicated to the memory of Herr Riedel and will include some items related to the history of soaring. It can easily be said that
Herr Riedel forever made a lasting impression on the soaring community and history. Enjoy.
Bitte benutzen Sie Fotografien ohne Erlaubnis nicht.
Wenn Sie irgendeine Fotografien oder andere Anteile
von dieser Website benutzen wollen, kontaktieren Sie
bitte mich. Vielen Dank.
|Luftfahrerfchein fur Segelflugzeugfuhrer (Glider Pilots License). This particular license was
issued to Herr Riedel April 25, 1938 and is #392. The license is well stamped and was issued
in Berlin. The booklet shows little wear and is in excellent condition, apparently very well
taken care of. The third page of the book appropriately shows an ID photograph of Herr
Riedel with his signature appearing neatly below the photograph.
This image appears on page 22 in the Fall issue of Prologue, a quarterly publication by the
United States National Archives. (Fall/2011) A terrific piece about Riedel and his time in
|Above: Shown above is Herr Riedel's Kennkarte (Civilian Identification
Card). This identification card was issued to Herr Riedel on June 9, 1943.
The Kennkarte is appropriately filled out with all of Herr Riedel's
identifying information. The one Reichsmark police administrative paper
stamp is present on page 2 with an identification photograph of Herr Riedel
and his fingerprints on page 3. The bottom of page 3 clearly displays the
signature of the police official who verified all of the information contained
in this identification card.
The numerous photographs above and to the left show the Deutsches Reich Reisepass (German State Travel Passport) issued to Herr Riedel.
The travel passport is well filled out and complete with Herr Riedel's identification photograph on page 2 of the document. The photograph is
properly stapled in place with the appropriate government stamps on both corners of the photograph.
The passport appears to have been issued to Herr Riedel on January 26, 1938. This passport was carried by Herr Riedel for travel during the
first part of 1938. The passport shows travel starting in February of 1938 to various parts of the world, including South America, specifically
various locations in Columbia. The last page of the passport shows Herr Riedel's entry into the United States on February 10, 1938, as a
"temporary visitor." His entry into the United States is accompanied with the signature of James H. Wright, Vice-Consul of the United States.
Shown above and left is the Ahnennachweis (genealogical/
ancestor chart) booklet, issued to Herr and Frau Riedel on April 8, 1943. Page 4 and 5 of the booklet shows the identification photographs
for both Herr and Frau Riedel, with each of their names neatly signed under each photograph.
This booklet is extremely well filled out and shows the family history of Herr Riedel and Frau Rieidel back to the early 1700's! Each entry
into the booklet shows the appropriate government stamp, indicating that the family information had been verified by the government
official. The booklet is extremely well taken care of and in wonderful condition.
|Shown at left is the Ahnen Paß, Riedel's "Certificate of
Descent" or "Proof of Ancestry". This particular booklet
is named to Herr Riedel, but is not as complete as the
Ahnennachweis shown above. This booklet does contain
numerous entries related to the Riedel family history and
shows Herr Riedel as the owner of the booklet, along with
his identifying information. This booklet is also in terrific
condition and was apparently well taken care of.
|The history of Peter Ernst Riedel reads like a great adventure novel. Herr Riedel was born as the second child of a Lutheran pastor in the
small village of Dehlitz, Saxony. Along with two sisters, one older and one younger than he, Herr Riedel lived a modest life. His grandfather
was once a very wealthy industrialist. However, the family lost most of its fortunes during World War One and the post economic crisis in
Germany following the war.
At the age of 13, Herr Riedel began building a flimsy, biplane glider made of a wood frame and covered with parchment paper. He attempted
to fly this home built creation, but was only able to get a few feet off of the ground and the contraption only flew a very, very short
distance. At the age of 14, having read about an upcoming gliding meeting on the Wasserkuppe in the Rhoen mountains, Herr Riedel began
building his second glider, a biplane glider he called PR-2. Herr Riedel took the partially completed glider to the first ever Wasserkuppe
competition and with the help of some older and more experienced glider pilots, completed the glider and competed in the competition. (At
the tme of his death, he was the last living competitor of the first ever Wasserkuppe competition.) At the same time, Herr Riedel also
began to formally learn to become a glider pilot. He would later build and fly his third glider creation, which he appropriately named PR-3.
With the help of a very wealthy and generous benefactor, Karl Kotzenberg, Herr Riedel enrolled in the Darmstadt Technical University,
graduating in 1927. Following his graduation, Herr Riedel immediately began his training to obtain his commercial pilot license at the
Brunswick and Ober Schleissheim flying schools. He completed his training in 1928 but was unable to find employment in the economic
Using his knowledge and experience, Herr Riedel went to work for Professor (Dr.) Georgii at the Darmstadt Research Institute for Soaring
Flight where he worked for six years. During this time, he became one of the leading sailplane pilots of the time. In 1932, he became the
7th pilot to achieve the Silver C certificate (badge) and the following year made the world's best long distance flight of 229 kilometers
(just over 142 miles). During the same year he won the Wasserkuppe competition and the Hindenburg Cup.
In 1934, Herr Riedel, along with several other companions, accompanied Professor Georgii on a now famous expedition to Latin America
where the sport of soaring was introduced to Brazil and Argentina. One of the other companions in the group was Germany's famous female
pilot, Hanna Reitsch. Herr Riedel and Frau Reitsch would quickly become very close and became close friends.
In 1934, Herr Riedel also found employment as a pilot for Lufthansa, flying over 200,000 kilometers for the airline. Not enjoying the
political climate in Germany, Herr Riedel signed a two year contract to fly for a Colombian airline and he left Germany, not intending to
return. In 1937, Herr Riedel was invited by the Soaring Society of America to participate in National Soaring Contest at Elmira, New York.
Herr Riedel scored more points that any other competitor but failed to be named as the winner of the competition because he was not a
United States citizen. At this competition, Herr Riedel was approached by Luftwaffe General Botticher, the German Military Attache to
Washington. Herr Riedel was offered a job as the civilian assistant to the General in Washington, D.C., which he accepted.
Herr Riedel was installed into the German Embassy in Washington and began collecting information and data on American air power by all
legal means available. This information would be passed along to the leaders of Germany to establish America's ability to make war and the
strength of their air fleet. When war in Europe erupted, Herr Riedel was given a commission in the Luftwaffe and became an officer. He
was then given the official title of German Air Attache. It was shortly after this time that he met and eventually married an American, Helen
Klug, an artist and teacher from Terre Haute, Indiana. Helen and Peter were closely followed by the FBI during their honeymoon as a result
of the war in Europe and his position with the German government.
Following Pearl Harbor, Herr and Frau Riedel were held along with all other German embassy staff by the United States government until
being returned to Germany in a diplomatic exchange. At this time, despite having never been to Germany and not knowing how to speak
German, Helen accompanied Peter back to Germany. Herr Riedel worked as an engineer for the Heinkel aircraft company. A short time
later, he moved Helen to Switzerland due to a medical condition she was suffering from. Herr Riedel secured Helen's transfer to
Switzerland by agreeing to work for the German Abwehr and he was also sent to Switzerland as the German Air Attache where he remained
for quite some time.
In 1944, Herr Riedel began to hear of the atrocities in the German concentration camps and voiced his concerns to his close friend, Hanna
Reitsch. Having become disillusioned with Germany and Nazism, Herr Riedel began to deal with the American OSS. At one point, Herr
Riedel was betrayed by a friend and was recalled to Berlin. Fearing he would be arrested and killed, Herr Riedel went into hiding in Sweden
and moved Helen to a safer location to avoid her being arrested by the German government.
Following the end of the war, numerous arrests and numerous escapes from custody (he was arrested for being an illegal immigrant), Herr
Riedel and Helen spent several years attempting to make their way back to the United States. Herr and Frau Riedel eventually returned to
the United States where Peter found employment with TWA and later, with Pan American Airways. Herr and Frau Riedel eventually retired
and settled down in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Herr Riedel's book, German Air Attache, was published in 1998, the same year he passed away.
|Above: An original, postcard in my collection of Herr Ernst
Peter Riedel, showing him sitting in the cockpit of a glider.
|Shown below are the items that once were carried by and belonged to Peter Ernst Riedel. For more detailed views,
most of the photographs can be enlarged simply by left clicking on them. This will give you a more detailed view of the
photographs. Again, these items are NOT for sale. Please do not reproduce any of the photographs shown without
permission. If you desire to use any of the photographs shown on this webpage, please send me an email for
permission. Thank you for visiting the website and enjoy.
|"German Air Attache" by author Martin Simons. This book can easily be
found on amazon.com and Ebay and is well worth the time to read about the
life of Herr Riedel. A spectacular read, Simons puts together a rather
hectic life into a clear and concise format. The story reads like an old
time adventure novel with travels around the world and an intriguing look
into wartime Germany and the sport of soaring in its early years. A
|Hanna Reitsch, Germany's most famous female pilot. Reitch was a close friend of Riedel's
both prior to and during the war. Their friendship extended back into the 1930's when the
two shared their love of soaring and eventually partnered with Professor Georgii for their
famous soaring trip to Brazil.
In 1937, Reitsch was posted to the Luftwaffe testing center at Rechlin by Ernst Udet. While
under direct command of Karl Franke she soon became a leading test pilot on the Junkers Ju
87 Stuka and Dornier Do 17 projects, as well as one of the few to fly the new
Focke-Achgelis Fa 61, the world's first fully controllable helicopter. Her flying and her
photogenic qualities made her a star of the Nazi party, always looking for publicity, and in
1938 she flew the Fa 61 every night inside the "Deutschlandhalle" at the Berlin Motor Show.
After hearing rumors about atrocities committed by the Nazis on the Jews, confronted
Reitsch who was a fanatical Nazi. Reitsch refused to believe the rumors of war camps and
concentration camps and their friendship went cold. It was not until years later that Reitsch
denounced the actions of the Nazis for their atrocities after learning the full extent of the
war crimes committed.
|General Friedrich Von Boetticher. Boetticher was Reidel's commanding officer while stationed
at the Germany Embassy in Washington, prior to and after the start of the war.
During this time, Riedel was tasked with legally compiling and obtaining information and
statistics on the air power capabilities of the United States Army Air Corp. Riedel did not
hold a high opinion of Boetticher, who refused several requests from Riedel to marry his
future wife, Helen. According to Riedel in his book, Boetticher took great pains to suppress
certain information before it was sent back to Germany to the high command, to keep from
upsetting the Fuhrer and jeopardizing his post in Washington. Boetticher was also known to
frequent American Civil War battle fields in his leisure time.
|General Ernst Udet (April 26, 1896 – November 17, 1941) was the second-highest scoring
German flying ace of World War I. He was one of the youngest aces and was the highest
scoring German ace to survive the war. He was 22 when the war ended. His 62 victories
were second only to Manfred von Richthofen, his commander in the Flying Circus.
Udet was a close friend of Riedel's and Riedel held a very high opinion of Udet. Their
friendship started in the 1930's. During the 1936 Olympics, Udet, Riedel and Hanna Reitsch
banded together and flew a soaring exhibition during the Olympic celebration. Riedel had
returned to Germany shortly before Udet's death (he comitted suicide in 1941). Riedel was
suspicious of the initial story concerning Udet's death. Out of embarrassment the Third
Reich leadership issued a story indicating Udet had been killed testing a new aircraft. Riedel
always maintained that Udet was an outstanding pilot.
|A Few Personalities from Riedel's Past:
|A photograph of Ernst Peter Riedel in
his later years.
|Above: An original postcard in my collection showing Peter Riedel's
Motorglider, complete with German government markings on the tail.
Like the other items shown above, this also came from Herr Riedel's
estate and was once owned by Herr Riedel.
|Above: This is an original, September 1935
magazine cover showing the "Three Kings of the
Air", from left to right, Heini Dittmar, Peter Riedel
and Ludwig Hoffman. This is an original magazine
cover which came from the estate of Peter Riedel. I
can't imagine too many of these are floating around.
|Above: This is an original, pre-war photograph of
Peter Riedel. The engine he is carrying is most likely
from his motorglider, as shown in the original
postcard above. This original photograph came from
the estate of Peter Riedel and is approximately
11x14 inches in size.
|Right: An original, early 1900's photograph, dating most likely from
somewhere around 1912 or 1913, showing Peter posing with his family. In the
photograph, Peter is standing on the far right side, wearing the visor cap.
Really a terrific item showing Peter in his younger years. Most likely the
photograph shows both of Peter's sisters, his mother and grandfather. Of
interest is the ornate pipe being held by the older gentleman on the far left.
Also interesting is to see Peter playfully wearing an Imperial German visor
cap and military like jacket, just prior to the start of the war to end all wars,
|Left and Above: A letter that was hand written by Helen Riedel to Peter, dated March 3, 1945. The letter is actually addressed to Herr P. Sefeldt, who was
a Captain in the Swedish military, and who was assigned to the Swedish Air Ministry. Peter encountered Capt. Sefeldt during a mission he was sent on to recover
a piece of secret Lichtenstein Radar equipment that was on a crashed Ju-88 in Swedish territory. Capt. Sefeldt had been assigned as Peter's escort on his trip
to the downed aircraft. The letter is addressed to Capt. Sefeldt in care of the Hans Ostermann Company, which was a chain of car repair garages. After going
into hiding to avoid the Gestapo, Peter worked for one of the Ostermann garages, renting an apartment above the garage and getting his letters and other mail
from Helen via Capt. Sefeldt. The "Geoffnet" stamp indicates the letters arrived to Peter in an "open" condition. They most likely were read and scanned by a
censor before being delivered to Peter.
|Above and Right: Memorial Service programs from Peter's funeral.
August 24, 1905 in Halle, Germany. He passed away on November 6,
1998 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The services were held at the
Harvey-Douglas Funeral Home in Ardmore and were overseen by
Reverend Robert Hinckley of the Trinity Lutheran Church. The eulogy
was given by Paul Hannak, and Jim and Simine Short of the Soaring
Society of America. It no doubt was a fitting tribute to Peter.
|A photograph showing Peter sitting in the cockpit of the
reconstructed Fafnir glider in 1933 at Wasserkuppe.
|Peter sitting with numerous
|A special thank you to author Martin Simon for his time, help and assistance.
In addition, a special thank you to Peter Ocker and Bruce Stephenson, both of which have contributed to the content and context of this page
on my website and have been invaluable.
|While doing some research on the above letter, I contacted the Swedish Air Ministry and received some additional
information about Captain Sefeldt, including a photograph of his that is shown to the left. His full name is Captain Nils
Olof Sefeldt, born 2/18/1911. He graduated high school in 1933 and earned his Swedish pilot wings on 3/21/1934.
During the war he served as a test and ferry pilot, often flying various types of German aircraft from Germany to
Sweden. He was later attached to the Swedish Air Ministry technical branch, which provided the opportunity for him
and Riedel to encounter eachother.
Following the war, Sefeldt was assigned to the Swedish Embassy in Washington where he remained until his
retirement in 1968.
|Newly Added Riedel Items: June 2008
|In June of 2008, I was fortunate to receive a large amount of original material related to Peter Riedel and the writing of his memoir, "German Air Attache", by
author Martin Simons. This material is being added to this page out of chronological order of the items above, in order to show what has been recently added.
This new material added a new dimension to the Riedel grouping already in my collection, and provides a more in-depth look at the career of Peter Riedel,
soaring legend and German state servant.
This material was obtained directly Ex Martin Simons' archives, and was a large portion of the research material Mr. Simons used in writing his book, "German
Air Attache." It was a tremendous pleasure to have received these items from Mr. Simons' archives, and to have the opportunity to interact directly with Mr.
Simons. I most appreciate his advice, knowledge and assistance.
|Above: Peter Riedel's Diplomatic Visa, issued to him in
1938 and signed by the Reichsminister des
Auswartigen. As shown in the above photographs, the
via clearly shows Herr Riedel's photograph, and
contains entries from the United States Embassy in
Berlin, recognizing the Diplomatic visa and authorizing
its use. The visa also contains entries and stamps from
Portugal and Mexico. This Diplomatic visa was utilized
by Herr Riedel when he was ordered back to Germany
in 1942, traveling through Portugal from the US.
|Above: Two original photographs showing Herr Riedel and his Kranich. The photograph on the left shows the tail of the Kranich at Du Pont Airport in
Wilmington, Delawre in 1938. The photograph on the right shows the Kranich at Elmira, New York in 1937. This was the year Herr Riedel competed in the
National Soaring Contest which he won, but was not able to be declared the winner as he was not a US citizen.
|1933, Herr Riedel at Darmstadt airfrield with an unknown aviator.
In the background is a Falke sailplane and famed aviator Heini
|Right: An original photograph taken in 1932, showing Herr Riedel
(standing in doorway holding the small dog) and numerous soaring
pioneers at a make shift bar in the Rhön mountains. Among the
aviators shown in the photograph are Wilfried Teichmann, Heini
Dittmar, Martha Mendel, Edgar Dittmar, Erich Bachem, Wolf Hirth,
Oskar Ursinus, Hasso Hemmer and Robert Kronfeld.
|Above: Two original photographs. The bottom photo shows from left to right: Mihm, Harth, Wolf Hirth, Hanna Reitsch, Dr. Walter Georgii, Peter Riedel,
Heini Dittmar and two unknown South American fliers. The uniformed pilot in the photo has been identified as Columbian pilot, General Acevedo-Torres.
|Above: Two original photographs showing Herr Riedel and Hanna Reitsch in 1934, on-bard
the oceanliner during their expedition to Latin America where the sport of soaring was
introduced to South America.
|Above: A series of four original photographs showing Dr. Walter Georgii and Hanna Reitsch with a two seat sport/trainer. The aircraft shown in the
photographs, registration number D-2152, is a BFW (Bayerische Flugzeugwerke) M23b, Werk-Nr. 559, driven by a Siemens-Halske 13a engine and
was first registered in august 1931 on the name of a Mr. M. Ostenrieder, then living at Lindenberg.
Thank you to Mr. Peter Ocker for supplying this information. He continues to be a wonderful source of rare and hard to find information.
|Above: A Uniformed Services Identification Card issued
to Her Riedel by the US Department of Defense on May
27, 1968, at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base. It is not known why
this identification card was issued to Herr Riedel.
|Above: Two original photographs of Dr. Walter Georgii. The photograph on the left is
marked on the reverse as "Dr. Georgii in Latin America 1934." THe other photographs,
apparently taken during the same time period shows Dr. Georgii conversing with an
|Above: Another original photograph showing several legends within the early
soaring community including Oskar Ursinus, Herr Riedel and Wolf Hirth.
|Left: An identification sized, original photograph of Luftwaffe pilot/test pilot Walter
Flinsch. Flinsch was an Olympic athlete, competing in the 1928 and 1932 Olympic games.
During the 1932 Olympic games, held in Los Angeles, California, he won a silver medal as
part of a four man rowing team.
Flinsch later joined the Luftwaffe and became an accomplished pilot, flying the FW-200
Condor on missions over the Atlantic. Due to a large attrition of his squadron, Flinsch was
moved out of combat and given a position as a production test pilot with the Heinkel aircraft
firm, conducting flight tests on the mammoth HE-177. On February 3, 1943, while
conducting stall testing of the HE-177, Flinsch was killed when he lost control of his HE-177
at an altitude of approximately 13,000 feet. Flinsch was able to bail out of the aircraft,
but never had a chance to open his parachute before striking the ground.
Flinsch was born in the United States, spoke English and like Herr Riedel, was a Lufthansa
pilot prior to entering into a career with the Luftwaffe.
|In the past, I have displayed other items on this page which related to Herr Riedel, including some of his other identification booklets and awards which are
now owned by other collectors. Given the amount of new material that I've recently acquired, I've elected to remove those items to make room for more of
the Riedel items within my own collection, and maintain this page as I do the other pages on my website, only showing items currently within my private
collection. I sincerely thank those other collectors who were kind enough to share photographs of the Riedel items in their collection.
|Above: Four original photographs showing Herr Riedel experimenting with various
aircraft for the purpose of aero-towing gliders to assist in launching.