|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 a hero 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. Pictured above is the five booklet grouping related to Herr Riedel.
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.
Right: “Rhön Segelflug Wettbewerb 1934” A rare painted and
stamped metal tinnie. The aluminum border edge of the piece
bears the inscription which translates to “Rhön Glider Competition
1934”. The tinnie is in very clean condition, with the reverse
lightly toned and the original pin and catch in excellent condition.
Left: Two early to mid 1930's glider stick-pins, which were
handed out for donations given to support gliding activities at
various events. Often times, young boys would hold donation
boxes and any time someone made a donation, they would be
given one of these pins. The pins would be worn on their attire
to show they had donated to the event. A standard donation
would secure the pin on the left, while a larger donation would
secure the more elaborate pin on the right, with the "sun" in
Left: Shown to the left is Peter Riedel's
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
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.
Above and Left:
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
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. (See photographs above for
views of various pages.)
Above and Left:
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.
Above: Shown above is the Ahnen Paß, Riedel's "Certificate of Aryan
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 distressed
Using his knowledge and experience, Herr Riedel went to work for Professor 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 Krug, 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 also was 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.
Peter Riedel's book, "German Air
Attache." This book can easily be
found on amazon.com and Ebay for a
decent price. Well worth taking the
time to read to learn more about this
amazing man and his aviation career.
Left: This stickpin is from a Segelflieger's
Flying day held at Feldberg in 1932. A recent
addition to my collection, the stickpin retains a
large amount of its original finish and is maker
marked on the reverse with very small lettering.
Really a beautiful pin with a beautiful gold finish.
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.
Above: The two photographs above are not in my collection, but show Peter Riedel's glider (#41) at the 1924
Wasserkuppe competition. The photographs provide a terrific view of one of Riedel's early gliders.
Above: A 1933 dated postcard in
my collection depicting Robert
Kronfeld (May 5, 1904 - February
12, 1948). Kronfeld was an
Austrian gliding champion and
sailplane designer of the 1920s
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
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
and 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
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
Three original postcards in my collection, showing the
Fliegerdenkmal at Wasserkuppe. The above postcard is postmarked
June 10, 1930. The postcard to the upper left is postmarked May
4, 1943, the postcard shown to the lower left is unused, but is
stamped on the reverse with a beautiful Wasserkupper Rhön stamp
(shown below). All three postcards show a terrific view of the
Fliegerdenkmal which dominates this world famous soaring site.
A Few Personalities from Riedel's Past:
A photograph of Ernst Peter Riedel in his later years.
Other Early Soaring Items:
Left and Right: These two photographs show the actual soaring
badges that once belonged to Peter Riedel. Unfortunately,
neither of these badges are in my collection and both were
recently sold on Ebay. However, the photographs show the
terrific detail in each badge and shows that Riedel had achieved
the the highest level of soaring achievements, earn three
diamonds to his badges. The badge on the right is a Third Reich
era award, while the badge on the left is a post-war version.
**I would be very interested to hear from the current owner(s)
of these badges.**
"Start in den Wind", a book written
by Peter Riedel in 1977. This book
provides a detailed history of gliding
and soaring in the Rhon Wasserkuppe
region between the years of 1911 and
Additional Peter Riedel items:
The items shown in this section are not part of my collection, but are included here on this page to add to the document
grouping and other items shown above. Many of the items shown here were recently sold at auction and were purchased by
private collectors. If any of the owners of these items visit this page, I would very much enjoy hearing from them.
Left: "Three Kings of the Air"
This photograph was recently auctioned and shows three world
class glider pilots from the 1930's. From left to right is:
Heini Dittmar, Peter Riedel and Ludwig Hoffman. This
photograph was used for the magazine cover that is in my
collection and is shown above.
Above: This photograph shows Peter Riedel sitting in
the cockpit of a glider with his close friend, Hanna
Reitsch standing nearby.
Left: This photograph shows a very distinguished group among the
soaring community of the 1930's. From left to right is: Heine
Dittmar, Wolf Hirth, Professor Georgii, Hanna Reitsch, Peter
Riedel, and two men identified only as Harth and Mihm.
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.
Left: 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.
Left: 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.
Wasserkuppe Rhon stamp found on reverse of postcard
to the left.
Left: A modern view of the eagle (Adler) that resides at
the top of the Fliegerdenkmal. As indicated on the NSFK
page, the Fliegerdenkmal is often referred to as a "Nazi"
site. This memorial was in fact erected in 1923, pre-Nazi
era, and was erected as a memorial dedicated to WWI
German fliers who had perished. The second photo shows a
modern view of the memorial located at the base of the
Left: This is an original autograph of
famed glider pilot, Robert Kronfeld.
This postcard is postmarked January
21, 1933 and has a nice, solid
autograph of Robert Kronfeld as
shown. Terrific historical autograph
from the world or soaring. As
indicated under the photograph to the
far left, Kronfeld died in February of
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, WWI.
Above and Left: An original, six page, wartime 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.
The programs from Peter's funeral show his date and place of birth as
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.
An early photograph of Peter at the age of 15, taken
as indicated in 1920.
Peter sitting in the cockpit of the reconstructed
Fafnir glider in 1933 at Wasserkuppe.
Peter in his PR-2, biplane glider at Wasserkuppe.
Peter at Darmstadt Griesheim airfield in 1933 with an
Peter sitting with numerous family members.
A special thank you to author Martin Simon for his time, help and assistance.
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 Olaf 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.
The items shown below are pieces from my collection. These items relate to the early years of soaring (gliding) and are
added on this page for soaring enthusiasts to enjoy along with the military items shown above. These items are NOT for
Above: Another pre-war postcard showing Robert Kronfeld standing next to his famous glider, Austria II. Shown to
the right is the reverse of the postcard with the numerous stamps along with the specialized Kronfeld stamp. Like
the other Kronfeld postcard in my collection, the postcard is dated 1933.
Left: A 1932 dated postal cover commemorating the
Third Annual National Gliding and Soaring Contest, held in
Elmira, New York, July 11 to July 24, 1932 by the Soaring
Society of America. Interesting early American soaring
item commemorating an event of the still strong Soaring
Society of America.
"If flying were the language of man, then soaring would be its
1) Items related to Peter Riedel.
2) Early soaring items including gauges, glider parts, postcards and original photos.
3) Early, 1930 to 1945 items related to Wasserkuppe.
Left: A late 1930's photograph in my collection
showing a government sponsored soaring event
at Wasserkuppe. Gliders are lines up along the
left side of the photograph, leading to the
launch point. In the far background on the right
portion of the photograph is the Fliegerdenkmal,
seen from a distance.
Left: A late 1930's postcard in my
collection showing a "Segelflug" in
flight near the Fliegerdenkmal.
Often incorrectly referred to as a
Nazi monument, this is a memorial
erected in 1923, pre-Nazi era, that
was a memorial to German Fliers
from WWI. To the right is a photo
showing a modern view of the eagle
(Adler) on top of the monument. This
area was a popular gliding site for the
A gorgeous, unused, pre-war postcard showing a glider soaring into the
sunset. Numerous gliders can be seen soaring in the background.
A late 1930's glider in flight, another
Two distinguished looking gentlemen out for a day of soaring!
An early glider pilot preparing to soar.
This photograph shows the early flight gear
worn by these daring pilots.
An unidentified pilot in the cockpit of his early glider. The
reverse of this original photograph is dated March or May 7,
1933. Interesting details showing the cramped conditions of
these early glider. Also of interest is the unidentified
armband of the male in the foreground, possibly indicating
some kind of competition taking place.
Below are several Riedel documents that are currently in the collection of another private
collector. I would like to thank that particular collector for sharing photos of these
documents and allowing them to be listed and shown on this website. Because these items
do not belong to me, I ask that you do not copy these documents for private use, thank you.
Right: An autographed photo of Wolf Hirth. Wolfram Kurt
Erhard Hirth was a German gliding pioneer and sailplane
designer. He was a co-founder of Schempp-Hirth, one of the
most renowned sailplane manufacturers in the world today.
Hirth took up gliding and was soon drawn to the Wasserkuppe,
earning his pilot's licence in 1920. In 1924, Hirth lost a leg in a
motorcycle accident. From then on, he would fly while wearing a
Wolf Hirth and Martin Schempp founded “Sportflugzeugbau
Schempp-Hirth”. The company's first real success was the Gö
3 Minimoa, a gull wing design that was used to break several
world records and win championships around the world.
He had a heart attack while flying his aerobatic glider in 1959
and died in the subsequent crash.