Enter "The Red Baron(s)" (1996 - 7).
"I cannot compare myself with the world champion, but, of course, I hope that one day
I will be as good as Michael. It is a long and hard way. There is a six-year gap between
us and it is not so easy to close this gap."
- Ralf Schumacher, quoted in The Times, July 19 1995.
"I think it will be good fun to race against Ralf. It is no problem if he beats me, but
I will try not to let it happen. It will be a case of friendly rivalry between us."
- Michael Schumacher, quoted in F1 News, March 5 1997.
"My younger brother and I used to fight a lot when we were children. We were very fond
of each other at the same time, and we were inseparable; but I was plainly filled
with jealousy, as he was the stronger and better looking of the two....."
- Freud's patient "The Rat Man", 1907.
After considering his options carefully after two back to back World Championships, Michael decided to move to Ferrari for the 1996 season. He was aware that their cars were less competitive than those he had driven for Benetton, something that was made painfully apparent in his numerous retirements due to technical problems during the 1996 season (1). However, Michael wanted a new challenge, wanted to be the man who brought glory back to the legendary Italian team by winning its first world driver's title since 1979. It is a tribute to his outstanding talent that even in a vastly inferior car he was able to win three races and gain third place in the drivers' championship. 1996 was the year that Damon Hill finally triumphed over Michael after two years of disappointment by winning the championship, but he was also sacked by Williams halfway through the season, ostensibly in a dispute over money, which delighted Michael.
Michael's move to Ferrari prompted the British media (even upmarket "civilised" papers like The Times - see left) to nickname him "the Red Baron", a moniker that was originally bestowed upon the famous First World War flying ace Manfred von Richthofen. One assumes that this came about as Michael now drives a red car, was born in Germany and appears to have an aggressive attitude towards the English - but, as we shall see, there are a lot more parallels between Richthofen and Schumacher particularly in relation to sibling rivalry. In Michael's case this became evident at the start of the 1997 Formula One season when, after years of being a few formulas behind him, Ralf finally arrived in the same one and was thereby given his first chance to challenge his brother directly after a lifetime in his shadow.
Ralf's early career was in many way similar to his elder sibling's. After a childhood in karts, Ralf joined Formula Three in late 1993. He came third in the German championship in his first full season, 1994, with one win, and second in 1995 with three wins (including the famous race at Macau which Michael so controversially won in 1990). Ralf moved to Formula 3000 in 1996 and won the prestigious F3000 Nippon Championship that year, thus attracting the attention of F1 bosses (2). After rejecting McLaren's offer of a F1 test contract, Ralf secured a full driving contract with Michael's first Formula One team, Jordan. In accepting the Jordan deal, he disregarded the wishes of his elder brother, who had advised him to do another year in Formula Three. It will now be necessary to leave the Schumachers for a moment to outline the lives of Richthofen and his younger brother Lothar before comparing the two sets of siblings.
The "Real" Red Baron.
"Where to begin? Perhaps it was time to borrow from that queer Jew, Freud. 'Tell me
of your childhood, Baron'."
- Kim Newman, The Bloody Red Baron.
The man whom history would remember as the "Red Baron" was born on the second of May 1892 in Breslau, Silesia (now Wrowclaw, Poland), the first son of Major Albrecht Freiherr (3) von Richthofen and his wife Kunigunde, members of the decaying aristocracy that proved so profitable as patients to Freud. His parents named him "Manfred" (meaning in Germanic "man of peace") after his great uncle, who was a Commander in the Prussian Army and peacetime aide-de-camp to Kaiser Wilhelm. Many other members of his family proved illustrious - one of them, Freud's hero Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (related to Richthofen through his paternal grandmother), was allegedly the great grandfather of Jung (4). The young Richthofen may have crossed paths with Freud too, as Sigmund was fond of taking walks in Breslau, especially during his Interpretation of Dreams period. Like Michael and Ralf as children (one assumes), Richthofen had "long blond hair and looked like a girl" (5) (see picture, right). This, of course, was not considered as strange in 1894 as it was in the 1970's.
At the time of his birth, Manfred's parents already had a little daughter of 21 months (Elisabeth Therese Luise Marie, sensibly abbreviated to Ilse), who was swiftly overshadowed by the coveted firstborn son. As had been the case with the young Sigmund Freud, Manfred became the child upon whom all hopes and expectations for the future were placed. Being the most important member of the family, however, would not have meant that he did not harbour feelings of jealousy when his first little brother, Lothar, was born two years and four months after him in September 1894, as he was his first male sibling and could therefore pose a definite threat. In 1901, Albrecht was forced to take compulsory retirement from the army due to his advancing deafness, and the Richthofen family moved to Schweidnitz (now Swidnica, Poland), which stood forty miles south-west of Breslau. Manfred developed the passion for hunting that would dominate the rest of his life at about this time, and took to prowling around his father's estate with an air rifle, shooting and then stuffing small birds and wildlife. His youngest brother, Karl Bolko, was born in Schweidnitz in April 1903.
Albrecht (another "bad" father - see above) had always wanted his eldest son to be the great soldier that he was prevented from being due to his disability, so sent the eleven year old Manfred to Wahlstatt Cadet Academy in August 1903. Richthofen hated the academy and did as little work as possible, feeling increasingly isolated under the harsh regime ("learn to obey that you may learn to command" was the credo, strongly enforced). Only the visits home made it bearable, as he was able to once again go hunting in the nearby fields. Manfred adopted Lothar as his lieutenant, the role he was to play in the war, at an early age. During one summer vacation he enlisted the help of his unwilling (and terrified) little brother to "catch" the ghost which allegedly haunted the attic of the family mansion. Although he clearly enjoyed Lothar's company, he felt a duty to protect him so decided to warn him against being coerced into joining him at the academy. Albrecht clearly did not feel that Lothar was as capable as his brother, so was content for him to remain at the local school. By the time Richthofen left Wahlstatt in 1909 his capacity for tender feeling towards others had been all but destroyed by this oppressive establishment, though as far as his father was concerned it had served its purpose as he had learned everything that he would need for a successful soldiering career. His early love of horseriding also helped to develop the tenacious spirit that he showed in wartime battles. During one tournament at his birthplace, Breslau, he was thrown from the horse to break his collarbone, but finished (and won) the race before seeking medical attention. After completing his cadet training at Gross-Lichterfelde, near Berlin, which he found somewhat more congenial that Wahlstatt, he was made a Lieutenant in 1912 and posted in a light cavalry unit near his homeland.
Having spent half his life training for a military career, Richthofen was presumably as euphoric as anyone when the Great War broke out in August 1914. However, he was annoyed to discover that Lothar was managing to take part in more action than he was. Lothar won the Iron Cross Second Class in October 1914, just one month after his elder brother, and was involved in many memorable battles on the Russian Front, whilst Manfred (who must have been thinking at this point that the privations of Wahlstatt had all been for nothing) languished for "24 boring hours" a day in a stinking dugout in France. By the beginning of 1915 he was so frustrated with his endless administrative chores that he wrote a somewhat brusque letter to his commanding general requesting a transfer, and was subsequently selected for the air service.
Richthofen originally flew as an observer, but his initial escapades in the air proved rather less than successful. He decided to train to become a pilot after being inspired by the brilliant aerial tactician Oswald Boelcke (pictured right), whom he had met on a train in October 1915 and who had advised him to learn to fly a Fokker monoplane. Boelcke was to die a year later, in October 1916, after an accidental collision with one of his own pilots, Erwin Boehme. Once he was gone Richthofen set himself the task of replacing his master. He spent a lot of time alone reading Boelcke's air combat manuals (still used in the Second World War), trying to absorb his methods and persona. This was rewarded a month after Boelcke's demise, when Richthofen shot down his eleventh and most famous opponent, the nine victory British ace Lanoe Hawker, after a prolonged battle. From that moment on it was clear that Richthofen was fast emerging as Boelcke's successor.
Richthofen was first nicknamed the "Red Baron" by the British media in December 1916, when he decided to paint all of his aeroplanes red. No satisfactory explanation has ever been found for this action, which seemed totally out of character for the normally conservative pilot, and Richthofen himself was similarly elusive in his autobiography ("For whatever reasons...."). However, the somewhat arrogant explanation he gave to his mother that "One cannot make oneself invisible in the air and so at least our people recognise me" (6) is probably closest to the truth. The British pilots were amused by the garish colour of the German planes and used to make fun of them - there was even a rumour that the red plane was piloted by a young girl. On the sixth of January 1917, Richthofen was awarded Germany's highest gallantry award, the Pour Le Merite or Blue Max. He was now "officially" a hero, but, like Freud, soon grew to loathe the adulation that came with fame as he found that he could not go anywhere without being mobbed. Germany suffered from a chronic shortage of aggressive fighter pilots so had to venerate those available, unlike the British who discouraged such adulation. Richthofen was given his own squadron (Jasta 11) to command on the twenty third of January, and swiftly began to teach Boelcke's dicta to the new pilots.
Whilst Richthofen encouraged Lothar to train to become a pilot, he did not specifically request him for his flying squad. The government, however, thought that it would be a good propaganda exercise to have the two siblings flying together, so posted Lothar to Manfred's airbase in March 1917. As far as was possible in those dangerous times, Richthofen kept a protective watch over his little brother. He gave him one of his favourite old planes to pilot as well as a pair of flying gloves which he considered lucky, to replace Lothar's own favourite talisman, a riding crop, which would not fit into the cockpit. Along with all the other pilots, Lothar found his tenth victory rewarded with a signed photograph of his brother - no doubt just what he wanted!
Richthofen received his first serious injury - a bullet wound to the head - on the sixth of July 1917. He later admitted that this had been caused by a fundamental error of judgement as he had not thought that the observer of the English aircraft he was chasing was close enough, at 200 feet away, to hit him. This injury fundamentally affected his personality as he became increasingly subject to mood swings and depression and began to spend even more time alone. He was also becoming disillusioned by the ever-more frequent deaths of his young pilots. His final memoir, in which he derides the "insolence" of his autobiography, vividly captures his despondent state of mind by this stage of the war:
"I am no longer so insolent in spirit. Not because I can imagine how it would be one
day when death is breathing down my neck, surely not for that reason, although I have
thought about it often enough that it can happen. I have been told by people in high
places that I should give up flying, for one day it will catch up with me. I would be
miserable with myself if now, burdened with glory and decorations, I were to become
a pensioner of my own dignity in order to preserve my precious life for the nation,
whilst every poor fellow in the trenches endures his duty as I do mine.
I am in wretched spirits after every aerial combat. But that is surely one of the
consequences of my head wound. When I put my foot on the ground again at the airfield,
I go directly to my four walls. I do not want to see anyone or hear anything. I believe
that the war is not as the people at home imagine it, with a hurrah and a roar; it is
very serious, very grim...."
Richthofen was not able to share this inner torment with the outside world; it would have conflicted with the "superhuman" image of die Rote Kampflieger that had been carefully nurtured for propaganda purposes ever since he had first stepped into his blood red plane, even more important now that Germany's chances of victory seemed increasingly slim (8). He no doubt drew on the iron sense of discipline he had gained at Wahlstatt to maintain this role for the public, right to the end.
The "man of peace" had amassed eighty confirmed victories, more than any of the other pilots, and was just eleven days short of his twenty sixth birthday when he took to the skies for the last time on the twenty-first of April 1918. At about 11.45 German time, his plane crashed heavily over British lines, the pilot dead from a single bullet to the heart. Richthofen was either killed by Canadian pilots of the RAF's 209 Squadron (as was vividly portrayed in Roger Corman's 1971 film Von Richthofen and Brown) or by ground fire from the Australian gunners in the trenches below. Lothar survived the war with forty confirmed victories, the same as Boelcke but half as many as his brother.
Since his death (and probably because of it), Richthofen has been turned into a cultural icon, most famously in the Peanuts comic strip. Cartoonist Charles M. Schultz, an American presumably of German extraction, claimed to have been inspired by his son's collection of First World War planes to draw a picture of Snoopy (9) as a flying ace (see right), thus giving a whole new meaning to the term "dogfight". Richthofen has also been portrayed in a number of films - from Howard Hughes' 1930 classic Hell's Angels to Roger Corman's bizarre Revenge of the Red Baron (1993). Richthofen is thus the only one of the First World War flying aces likely to be remembered today. He remains a mysterious and enigmatic figure though: like most people who die young and in controversial circumstances, he has been accorded a "schizophrenic" portrayal. Depending on which account you read, he was either a bloodthirsty sociopath who delighted in torturing and killing enemies for "sport" or a gallant patriot who selflessly sacrificed all personal concerns to carry out his duty to the Fatherland.
Richthofen and Schumacher.
Manfred and Lothar von Richthofen were as different as it is possible for two siblings to be, something that has been emphasised in all accounts of their lives. They were not physically similar (as is evident from the photograph left) - Manfred, who was five feet seven inches tall (the same height as Freud) and of slight build, had an air of fragility about him, whereas Lothar, a head taller and broader shouldered, was built much like Ralf Schumacher, and was physically dominant over his elder brother from a very young age. Richthofen certainly felt threatened by this; it is surely probable that Michael Schumacher does also.
Unlike Michael and Ralf, Manfred and his brother also had very differing personalities. The Schumacher siblings are in fact unusual in this respect as most siblings strive to be very different from those who immediately precede them in the family constellation (see above). Carl Jung's theories of psychological types may prove helpful here. He divided people into extraverts (those who project their energies onto external objects) and introverts (those who project their energies inward). Jung believed that these two groups would be in conflict with each other constantly.
Manfred von Richthofen, reserved, cautious and extremely self absorbed, was a model introvert. He spent most of his free time on his own, especially after his head wound. He is supposed to have been fairly morose, but this is not borne out in informal pictures of his flying squadron, in which he is invariably smiling. However, in many official pictures (see example, right) he projects a distinct coldness. Pictures such as these perhaps inspired Kim Newman to portray him as a malevolent, savage vampire in his pulp fiction novel The Bloody Red Baron. Newman's book, a postmodern novel par excellence which presents an alternative history of the air war involving a variety of both historical and fictional characters, ironically gets close at times to conveying certain aspects of Richthofen's character more vividly than many "real" biographies, especially his apparent lack of need for close emotional attachments to others (10):
"The Baron looked at me without passion, without contempt, without interest. I cannot
convey the emptiness of his eyes. Some nosferatu have a deadness in their heart
that has nothing to do with true death....in Richthofen, there must have been a coldness,
a need to retreat from physical and emotional contact. For such a man to be a vampire,
to be eternally dependent on such contact, must be very like perdition"
This portrayal, of course, evokes the long held stereotype of Germans as impassive, ruthless robots. Michael Schumacher is not depicted much differently (the wily British press have often referred to him as "The Terminator" or "Robocop"), though his social isolation is of a very different kind.
Richthofen also appears to have been somewhat of a misogynist, perhaps because he had been surrounded almost exclusively by men from an early age. He would probably have agreed with Freud's assessment that women are "biologically inferior", though his shyness around them indicated that he feared them, as Freud did - people always attack most strongly what they are most afraid of. Whilst it was rumoured that he had a female acquaintance to whom he sent letters and wanted to marry when the war ended, the evidence for this liaison is tenuous at best: none of the letters have ever been found, and most of his flying comrades who survived the war dismissed the whole story as "nonsense" (12). Instead of courting women's affections he preferred to channel (or "sublimate") his energy into his favourite pursuit: hunting. The urge to hunt and kill living creatures seemed so fundamental to Richthofen's character that many observers, citing his admission of fifteen minutes of "satisfaction" after shooting an enemy plane down, have detected a sexual motive (13). However, it needs to be noted that he was certainly not alone in this respect. Most men enjoy the feeling of mastery that comes with a victory (castration) over another man, whatever form this victory may take (this is also evidenced, of course, in Michael's podium jumping). The difference is that for Richthofen hunting functioned as a substitute for sexual fulfilment rather than as an addition to it: all his free time was occupied with stalking animals or playing with his beloved dog Moritz (pictured with him above). Clearly the dog, a huge ugly Great Dane, was his best friend, sharing his bed and even accompanying him on patrol flights. It is of course easier for someone with underdeveloped emotions to love a dog rather than another human being as animals can give you unconditional love without ambivalence, as Freud noted (14) whereas there has to be some give and take in human relationships.
Lothar, in sharp contrast to his brother, was a high spirited and gregarious young man who much preferred rowdy parties to spending time alone - a model extravert. Lothar was also better adjusted emotionally, not having been handicapped by an oppressive unhappy childhood at military school, which would have destroyed his youthful joie de vivre. Women tended to find him more attractive than his brother as he was not at all shy around them, and he soon became well-known around the airfield as somewhat of a playboy. This contrast between the brothers is again well portrayed in Newman's book: the exuberant Lothar "would rather be a lover than a fighter" and is glad that he lacks the elder Richthofen's cold hearted nature: "He is not a man, he is a weapon. I love him for he is my brother, but I would not trade hearts with him, not for his score, not for his fame" (15). Lothar was married soon after the war's end to Countess Doris von Keyserlingk, by whom he had a son and a daughter, but the marriage was dissolved three years later, which suggests that Lothar found monogamy hard to cope with after his multitude of girlfriends during the war years. He may also have married her to please his father (who died in 1920) as he was now the eldest son and therefore had a duty to produce some heirs by a "suitable" woman. A Grafin, after all, is higher than a Freiherr in the aristocracy stakes.
How significant is the time gap between the era of the Richthofens and that of the Schumachers? I believe that the two sets of siblings are linked strongly by the fact that it is possible - indeed, likely - that modern Germany still suffers from feelings of anger and desire for vengeance created by the 1918 defeat - what I call a "1918 complex". The First World War witnessed the first widespread emergence of the illness known as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue" that has occurred in most modern warfare since (16). As the war dragged on and on and became ever more bloody, many soldiers began to exhibit symptoms similar to clinical neurosis. The recognition that shell shock was primarily a psychological rather than a physical disorder meant that people started taking psychoanalysis more seriously, though this was rarely enough to save traumatised soldiers from a firing squad. Freud, beginning to recognise life and death instincts, saw war neuroses as constituting a conflict between the subject's old peaceful ego and his new warlike one. The peaceful ego tried to protect itself by retreating into neurosis, which thus functioned as a self-defence mechanism. Freud however asserted that most neuroses disappeared at the end of the war as the sufferers' desire to escape from this barbaric persona was achieved (17). In fact, as I shall demonstrate, the desire to escape was transformed in many Germans into a desire for revenge - hence the neurosis changed direction but did not disappear.
"The Germans are a race of born fighters. They don't consider that there is any point
in living unless they can get themselves into a war....[They] are brutes, beasts, swine
born to the trade of murder, and the sooner everyone in the world realises that, the
sooner we'll get them under once and for all and have peace again."
- Dennis Wheatley, The Man who Missed the War, 1945
The "German fighting spirit" is legendary: for centuries the Germans made a profitable living as mercenary soldiers, offering their services to anyone willing to pay for them, thus giving rise to the opinion that they enjoyed fighting for its own sake. The spirit of these ancestors was much in evidence in the soldiers of the First World War. The war should have been over at least a year before it was given the increasingly insurmountable odds against Germany (life expectancy of new pilots was little more than a week, that of trench soldiers even less), but still the men refused to give up fighting. British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George urged the other key participants in the Versailles peace conference not to make the treaty too hard on Germany as he knew that if the Germans felt humiliated then this could eventually lead them to wage another war. This warning, however, was ignored. Germany was not allowed to send representatives to the negotiations and was forced to admit total responsibility for the war, a demand previously unheard of in the history of diplomacy.
Sure enough, when the armistice was signed many Germans refused to accept such a degrading defeat and vowed revenge. They believed that Germany could never be defeated in an honourable battle, thus giving rise to the rumour that they had been betrayed by a small number of their countrymen, namely Communists and those eternal outsiders, the Jews. This became known as the "stabbed in the back" theory or Dolchstoss. It was not long after Versailles that the political movement known as National Socialism (Nazism) came into being with the organisation in 1920 of the National Socialist German Workers Party, which by August 1934 had assumed complete control over the state and all its functions.
The reasons for the ease with which a regime as brutal as that of the Nazis secured a hold on the national consciousness have long been debated. Many believe that a satisfactory explanation will never be found as to how apparently "normal" people could commit such atrocities, how family men could spend a morning murdering Jewish children then go home to play with their own offspring as if returning from a simple day at the office (19). Having considered all the relevant arguments, this writer believes that the most satisfactory explanation for the acquiescence by ordinary Germans in the crimes of the Holocaust is that they were willing to pay any price (even murder) to get revenge for the war that they had lost twenty years earlier. As Klaus P. Fischer notes in Nazi Germany: "The defeat of a proud and arrogant nation, which up to the very last months of war believed that final victory was within its grasp, [was] bound to cause a collective trauma with far ranging consequences" (20). The privations and humiliation brought by the 1918 defeat provided all the impetus that Hitler needed to turn latent anti-Semitism into active genocide. Once he had convinced the German nation that the Jews had betrayed them to the enemy during the Great War, their complete annihilation seemed the only appropriate option.
Hermann Goering, the last commander of Richthofen's flying squadron (21), provides perhaps the best illustration of the1918 complex in force. He refused to surrender his planes to the Allies at the war's end, destroying them instead, then gave his men a farewell speech in which he thanked them for fighting so valiantly and assured them that they would be revenged. By 1933 Goering had become one of the most powerful men in Germany and was telling the world in a new introduction to Richthofen's autobiography that Germany was once again hungry for combat:
"We want to adhere to the great example set by Manfred von Richthofen. We want to
remember him in order to bring into play all of our might to reach our national goals -
to give Germany once again an air force physically equal to the other nations', but superior
in spirit, courage, sacrifice, and equal to the Richthofen wing in the World War"
It is ironic that Richthofen should have been chosen as an emblem of the Luftwaffe since after the First World War the wealthy aristocracy were largely despised by the starving masses, and even many of those who were initially attracted to the SS later became involved in anti Nazi conspiracies. The most famous of these was of course Count Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of the July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler. The failure of this assassination attempt resulted in the virtual destruction of the old military elite, as Hitler ordered the execution (and torture) of thousands of often innocent aristocrats. Given these circumstances, it is interesting to speculate whether the middle-aged Richthofen would have become a supporter of the Nazis or not. Although he had a cruel (some might even say sadistic) streak, as was demonstrated by his passion for hunting, unlike the unscrupulous Goering, he was also a man of high moral principles so would not have approved of the senseless (23) butchery of the Nazi regime. The talented pilot Werner Voss, perhaps Richthofen's best friend, was Jewish.
Does the revenge complex still exist today? After the Allied split of the country, the "two Germanies" adopted a defensive standpoint towards each other, with both maintaining that "their" people had neither known about nor contributed towards the Nazi genocide policy. This position was subsequently shown to be false in Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's seminal best seller Hitler's Willing Executioners, which used compelling contemporary evidence to demonstrate that the majority of "ordinary" Germans had played an active and eager part in Hitler's regime (24). The West German historians debate of the mid-1980's known as the Historikerstreit, in which an attempt was made to "relativise" the Holocaust by comparing it to other twentieth century atrocities such as those committed by Stalin and Pol Pot, exacerbated rather than resolved the debate about whether we could remove the Nazi period to "history" as many concluded that the Nazi mentality still plays a major role in modern German psychology (25).
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 enabled a new generation of Nazis from the West (such as the group pictured right) to infiltrate the East and incite its confused and disaffected youth to racial hatred. This Neo-Nazi movement has continued to flourish, no doubt aided by the unwillingness of nervous government officials and apathetic police officers to take proper action against it (26). The 1998 displacement of the long serving xenophobic Chancellor Helmut Kohl by Gerhard Schroeder and his younger Social Democratic Party means that government ministers are now a generation away from the Nazi era; thus they should be strong enough to draw a schluss-strich (line) under the past. However, events such as the recent controversy surrounding Hitler propagandist Leni Riefenstahl's attempt to exhibit her Naziesque documentaries shows that they are not yet ready to do so (27). British comedians like to make fun of this attitude, most famously in Fawlty Towers "don't mention the war" skit, which has passed into popular mythology. More recently, Harry Enfield introduced a new character called "Jurgen" onto his comedy show, who starts each sketch apologising for the conduct of Germany in the war and is shouting Nazi declarations by the end. Even Michael Schumacher is not immune from this. When British comedian Lee Hurst, a participant on the comedy show They Think It's All Over, was given Michael's name in a charades round, he simply drew a car and a swastika. The team guessed the correct answer immediately. The Nazi menace will never be truly buried until everyone involved agrees to let it be.
"When does the past become history? One might answer, when it is no longer imbued
If the Germans do still remain tied to their Nazi past, as appears most likely, it seems logical to conclude that they are also bound to that which helped spawn Nazism in the first place: the 1918 complex. However, for the majority of vengeful Germans a solution of sorts has presented itself, as they have learned to transfer the desire for revenge onto another plane. It has been a common psychological claim, from Orwell to Reagan, that sport can replace war - a very Freudian standpoint, as Dean Dervin indicates:
"Sports of all kinds represent a socially acceptable medium for displaying our basic
destructive instinct. Freud would almost certainly endorse the Duke of Wellington's
alleged comment that 'the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton'.
Furthermore, psychoanalysts would go on to argue that without such playing fields
there may well continue to be a great many more Waterloos"
It is a widely held belief that sport works as a catharsis. Participation in sport is said to release and purge our aggressive instincts through a safer channel than war, and thus sport becomes, in the words of Philip Goodhart and Christopher Chataway, "war without the weapons" (30). The spectator also experiences beneficial effects by temporarily identifying with the athlete. Although much late twentieth century research (such as Gordon W. Russell's 1993 book The Social Psychology of Sport) has tended to suggest that in fact sport merely intensifies our aggressive tendencies, as is evidenced in the phenomenon of hooliganism, this is by no means conclusive given the ever-changing social dynamics of the world (Russell mainly cites American studies) (31). As we have seen, the cathartic effect certainly seems to work its powers on Michael - he is an aggressive racer but calm and composed at home.
And what of his fellow Germans? In the case of a country with as strong a fighting spirit as Germany, victorious participation in sport is surely likely to be beneficial as an alternative to war. It provides one possible explanation as to why the Germans have not attempted to provoke another one as many people appeared to fear they would in the 1950's and 1960's, despite the division of the country and the fact that Germany was no longer a major world power. The British author Dennis Wheatley, who served on the Joint Planning Staff during the Second World War and therefore had privileged access to government files on the Nazi Party, was telling readers even before the war was over that: "We must make very sure that no false sentimentality on our part enables that race of murderers we call the Germans to grow strong enough to imperil freedom and civilisation for yet a third time" (32).
Whereas before the Second World War the Germans were more likely to regard sport as a training ground for future combat activities, as was vividly demonstrated in the Berlin Olympics of 1936, it would seem that they have now adopted it as an altogether safer alternative to war, period. West Germany's victory in the World Cup of 1954, for example, symbolised for many people the country's moral and physical rehabilitation into European society. As The Times' Bonn correspondent noted: "A foreign observer has to make allowances for the apparent excess of rejoicing. Germans collectively have felt starved of successes over the last ten years" (33). The fact that Germany takes sports very seriously is also evidenced in its intense veneration of Michael Schumacher. Germans were never successful in Formula One and had very little interest in it before Michael started winning races - in his quest for the World Championship he united the whole country behind him (34). It would therefore not be an exaggeration to say that he is as important for the morale of the country as the heroes of the First World War were.
"It was all just a wonderful game. To bring down a machine did not seem to me to be
killing a man; it was just like destroying a mechanical target, with no human being
in it....I did not relish the idea even of killing Germans, yet, when in combat in the
air, it seemed more like any other kind of sport, and to shoot down a machine was
very much the same as if one were shooting down clay pigeons."
- William Bishop, Canadian ace, who survived the First World War
"For the past 500 years, we in Britain have spent much of our time arguing the toss
with Johnny Foreigner, and the mere fact that some people do it with F1 cars does
not alter the fact that too many xenophobic Brits regard the English Channel as the
only thing which separates civilisation as they know it from the primeval hordes.....
professional sport has now taken the place of hand-to-hand combat. If you can't have
a war, let's have a GP."
- 'The Scrutineer' of F1 Racing magazine
As the above quotations demonstrate, if First World War sky battles turned war into a sport, then Formula One can be considered to have turned sport into a war. Many more similarities between the two forums can in fact be discerned: the psychology of air combat is similar to that of car racing as both involve one to one battles ("duels" or "dogfights") and participants need similar skills, such as determination, stamina, and quick reflexes, to outwit their opponents. It is not therefore surprising that racing drivers made good pilots. Eddie Rickenbacker, who was probably the world's most famous racing driver of the nineteen-teens, also became America's most successful war pilot with twenty-six confirmed victories. There is some irony in this, since his parents, the Reichenbachers, were both of German origin. Richthofen's friend Count Holck and the French ace Charles Nungesser were also notable racers of their day.
Both racing and combat flying have been given a glamorous image in which participants are seen as brave, exciting and hyper-masculine. This was vividly demonstrated in the First World War by the attitude of the German public to Richthofen. As we have seen, he was one of the first victims of that peculiarly twentieth century phenomenon "fan adoration" and was constantly mobbed by autograph hunters and inundated with fan mail and marriage proposals. This seductive image (somewhat misleading given the agonising deaths pilots were liable to suffer if their planes broke up at 10,000 feet) stood in sharp contrast to the horrors of trench warfare. With the exception of a few well-known poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, trench heroes were anonymous.
In addition, both forums are dangerous - see Fig 3.1. As is evident from these tables, of the thirty two top scoring aces of the First World War (with 40 victories or more), ten were killed in action (marked with a x in the final column). At least two of these deaths (those of Boelcke and Loewenhardt) were caused by accidental collisions with their own men. Of the thirty four top scoring Formula One drivers from 1950 to the end of the 1999 season (with six victories or more), six were killed on the racetrack (this includes Clark, who died in a Formula Two race). At least three others (Surtees, Lauda and Hakkinen) suffered such severe injuries that their lives also hung in the balance for a time. Incredible as it may seem, this means that statistically, for its most gifted participants Formula One has proved only marginally less hazardous to life than dogfighting was for the major aces of the First World War (37).
These similarities have clearly influenced those who like to refer to Michael as the "Red Baron". However, we can take this further. It is possible that Michael himself might identify with the First World War aviators, and particularly Richthofen, as some sort of ideal image - Germany's new national hero becomes the one of eighty years ago. Certainly the picture on the left gives this impression! (38). The concept of the "ideal" is difficult to clarify, though crucially, the concept of "ideal" identification involves a much more egocentric positioning than is usually the case when identifying with a lost object. The subject identifies with an ideal image with the aim of returning to the earliest stage of development, when infantile narcissism dominated and it reigned supreme, believing that the world had been created specifically for it to live in (39). This mode of identification explains Michael's arrogance as if through identifying with an ideal he can convince himself that he is "perfect", then he will have re-entered this infantile narcissistic phase and become supreme again. By trying to return here he shows his vulnerability towards neurosis as he can only get there by forsaking his role in the Symbolic.
Daniel Lagache's concept of the ideal ego is perhaps the most appropriate formulation for examining a possible trajectory between Schumacher and Richthofen. He claims that the subject's striving for perfection can form the basis of a "heroic identification" with historical figures "remarkable for their independence, nobility and superiority" - all true of Richthofen, of course (40). We can see why Michael would want to identify with Richthofen as opposed to other historical figures if we consider the concept of what I call "safe history". Each country has a historical past that it is ashamed of (unsafe history) and a historical past it is proud of (safe history). It is a commonly held notion that "history is written by the winners" or, as George Orwell would say, "he who controls the present controls the past", i.e. victorious nations decide which version of any particular event is publicised. Britain, for example, which before the Second World War was at least as anti-Semitic as France or Germany, was able to conceal the true extent of her reluctance to assist the Jews for nearly six decades. The recent declassification of government documents means that we are at last learning the truth (41). "Great" Britain has also had her fair share of historical villains - should not Lord Kitchener, who condemned over twenty thousand African women and children to death in concentration camps during the Boer War, be vilified in much the same way as Hitler? Because Germany lost both wars it had no choice about having its unsafe history exposed by the Allies afterwards. In an attempt to compensate for this, most German educational programmes from 1945 up to the 1970's suppressed the Nazi period as much as possible and instead venerated historical characters from an earlier era. Therefore, in schools Richthofen would have been portrayed as an exciting and glamorous figure whom young boys could aspire to emulate, much as had been the case all those years earlier.
Michael is one among many Germans who has learned to channel his 1918 complex into sport conflicts. This may encourage him to identify with Richthofen as it helps to explain his fierce hostility towards Damon Hill: as Richthofen, he sees Hill as representing Britain en masse which needs to be defeated as revenge for the war(s). Michael's own inferiority complex, as we have seen, also contributes to this: he secretly believes that Hill is far more powerful than himself. Stirling Moss in his Mercedes Benz powered car in the 1950's helped cement good relations with Germany, whilst forty years later Michael Schumacher was reversing the trend again. The British media are of course perpetuating this German/British rivalry by nicknaming Michael after a famous war hero. In further support of this "identification" idea, there are several parallels in the development of Richthofen and Schumacher's professional careers.
Richthofen, as we have seen, was a very tenacious horserider, as was Michael in karts. Even as teenagers, both had an unsurpassable self confidence which is clearly reflected in photographs (see Fig 3.2). Their relationships with their mentors were also similar - after the deaths of Boelcke and Senna, Richthofen and Schumacher were able to shine in their own right but also found themselves competing with their predecessors' memories and even adopting many of their personality traits, whether consciously or not. It is also the case that both had a hand in these deaths (albeit accidentally). Richthofen chased a British flier into Boelcke's path, forcing the older pilot to bank sharply and thus resulting in his fatal collision with one of his own men; Senna lost control of his car at the San Marino Grand Prix whilst under intense pressure from Michael's challenges for the lead.
There are also several similarities in the attack techniques used by Richthofen and Schumacher and also between those of their younger brothers. It was recognised that there were two different types of pilots in World War One: those who planned their offensive carefully and only attacked from a position of advantage and those who recklessly plunged into battle at the first sight of the enemy. As we have seen, Richthofen's restrained and calculating nature made him an accomplished animal hunter. He considered that his victorious battles in the air were also best described by reference to the hunt, so in his autobiography he used the terms "hunters" (strategists) and "butchers" (impulsives) to distinguish between the two types of pilot. Both Richthofen and Schumacher are known for their ability to "hunt down prey":
"Primarily, he has to thank his hunter's eye for his incredible success. Watching like
an eagle, he spots the weakness of his opponent and like a bird of prey he dives on his
victim, which is inescapably in his clutches"
- Erwin Boehme's view of Richthofen's fighting strategy
"He lies in wait behind his competitors like a bird of prey, just waiting for them
to make the most subtle of mistakes. Then he mercilessly swoops past them"
- Chuck Penfold's view of Schumacher's fighting strategy
The second of these quotations is from an article titled "The Red Baron strikes back" - more appropriate than the author could have known.
Richthofen collected "souvenirs" such as serial plates from downed planes (see picture right) to keep alongside his animal trophies and even commissioned a Berlin jeweller to produce minute silver cups to commemorate his victories, each engraved with the type of plane and the date it was brought to earth - a gruesomely egotistical act. He would probably have agreed with the parallels between war and sport that have been discussed in this chapter. At the same time, however, he felt no personal animosity towards the Allies. The airmen were usually considered to treat captured prisoners better than other branches of the army did, and Richthofen was not an exception. This serves as an ironic contrast to Michael's attitude to Damon Hill (see Fig 3.3).
Whilst those who possess the hunting mentality obviously conduct their attacks with considerable skill, the trouble with these types of people is that they can never allow themselves to give up the chase. Whilst there is still controversy, probably never now to be resolved, about who killed Richthofen, this is not as important as why he died. His head wound of July 1917 and death in April 1918 were both the result of not backing off when it would have been expedient to do so. In the second case at least he violated his own rule in his Air Combat Operations Manual: "One should never obstinately stay with an opponent who, through bad shooting or skilful turning, one has been unable to shoot down, when the battle lasts until it is far on the other side and one is alone and faced by a greater number of opponents" (44). Unfortunately for him, Richthofen had too much confidence in his own ability (the "he won't get me" mentality). Michael Schumacher often replicates these mistakes, albeit with less serious consequences (45).
Butchers, as is implied by the derogatory name, were considered to lack the skilful nature of a hunter, relying on enthusiasm rather than experience. In his autobiography Richthofen classed Lothar as a "butcher", thus effectively oppressing him into the Imaginary Order. In some ways this was an apt description: although Lothar's forty victories placed him amongst the top ten German fighter aces, his approach to combat flying displayed little tactical ability. People with extravert natures often tend to be impetuous, and Lothar was no exception. He would plunge thoughtlessly into an attack without taking proper note of the competition, and often had to use trickery and pretend to be shot to get out of situations in which he was outclassed. He survived the war only because he spent so much of it in hospital after being frequently shot down. Lothar was also somewhat of a liability to his brother, as the following extract from the squadron's adjutant Karl Bodenschatz's eyewitness war journal testifies:
"On the last day of October, with rainy weather and a heavily overcast sky, the Rittmeister
is flying around with his regular Staffel, Jasta 11, looking for Englishmen in the wet,
grey, desolate skies, when he notices that one machine of his Staffel is flying rather
erratically. Is it breaking off? Breaking up? What is wrong? The machine is going
down in a rather fast dive, and a sudden jolt goes through the Rittmeister. It is his
brother, Lothar! Something seems to be wrong. And because he never leaves a comrade
in the lurch in a precarious situation, he doesn't leave this comrade in the lurch
either. In any case, he rushes down after him.
The airplane dives steeply and the Rittmeister soon gets the picture: his brother has
to make an emergency landing, the Devil knows why. So he too will make an emergency
landing. In an area that is not exactly the best, the two of them set down, first
Lothar, and then Manfred. Lothar makes an absolutely smooth, perfect landing. And that
is the last thing the Rittmeister sees, for he himself falls victim to some kind of damn
mischief. His machine sets down, cracking and bursting. It shatters into a number
of large pieces and many small fragments, and is, to use the pilots' slang term, "totalled".
The commander clambers out of the mess, uninjured and somewhat bewildered, and his
brother watches him, equally bewildered. The Rittmeister doesn't say a word, and Lothar
clears the matter up, somewhat timidly: his engine failed, failed completely, and as
a result, he'd had to get down as fast as possible"
Richthofen only flew three planes without a victory - the one destroyed in this effort to protect Lothar was one of them. It is significant, perhaps, that Lothar's most famous "victory" (the young British ace Albert Ball) was later proved to have in fact shot Lothar down, then plunged to his own death in circumstances still unknown. "Wild, reckless, [and] rather stupid" was how aviation historian Stephen Longstreet saw Lothar (47): this would be a pretty shrewd appraisal of the young Ralf Schumacher too, who could also be seen as a butcher.
Whilst Ralf's early Formula One performances appeared promising as the raw talent and speed were clearly there, he did not live up to expectations later in the season as his driving became increasingly erratic. Ralf's main problem proved to be that of many an over-enthusiastic little brother: in his eagerness to prove himself as good as his elder sibling, he pushed his vehicle much too hard, driving over the limit rather than on it, resulting in frequent off-road excursions and collisions. He finished only seven races from seventeen starts and ruined a lot of other drivers' races by knocking them off the track too. An ill judged passing manoeuvre on Michael's 1995 Benetton teammate Johnny Herbert, now in a Sauber, eliminated them both from the Italian Grand Prix and left Herbert fuming: "It was completely unnecessary and unacceptable: the sign of an inexperienced driver who still has a lot to learn about the art of racing at high speed" (48). Johnny's boss Peter Sauber was even less forgiving: "It was one of the most negative experiences I have had in all of my years in motorsport. Racing drivers who look for an advantage in this way not only endanger the health of other drivers, but also do the image of our sport absolutely no good at all" (49).
However, Ralf's most spectacular error was surely when, under pressure from teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, he crashed into Michael on the first lap of the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, putting all three of them out of the race and all but destroying Michael's championship hopes. He thus proved to be as much a liability to his brother, in depriving him of victory, as Lothar von Richthofen was to his. Michael was understandably furious at the Nurburgring, storming off to his trailer and refusing to talk to reporters, whilst Ralf remained pretty calm, telling ITV's Louise Goodman that: "Aw, it was nothing special" (50). It is evident from pictures of the incident (see left and below) that Ralf narrowly missed decapitating his brother - his back wheel came to within a few inches of Michael's head as the Jordan shot over the Ferrari. Hardly "nothing special".
Ralf's driving style led to him being viewed as somewhat of a joke by the F1 fraternity, especially ITV commentators who often referred to him as "Ralfy" or "little Ralf" (or even "baby Schu"), despite his physical dominance over Michael, thus oppressing him into the Imaginary Order. Ralf's personality has not emerged as much different from his elder brother's, and he has come to be regarded as as arrogant and egotistical as Michael is. His attitude was best demonstrated by incidents with the other drivers at Jordan. The twenty-one year old had barely signed for the team when he launched a blistering verbal attack on Nigel Mansell, the 1992 World Champion, who was trying to gain the other Jordan seat: "I would have been disappointed if Nigel had been faster than me.... I have done a lot of testing recently and Nigel has been out of the sport a long time...I'm not sure the knowledge he has would be helpful" (51). Unsurprisingly, Nigel was furious. Ralf did not attempt to endear himself to Eddie Jordan's eventual signing, the young Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella, either. He gained his first (and only) podium of the season by barging Fisichella off the road with an audacious overtaking manoeuvre on lap 24 of the Argentinean Grand Prix, and appeared somewhat reticent afterwards to accept blame for the incident, an attitude which reflects that of his elder brother on so many similar occasions. Fisichella was predictably irate: "As far as I'm concerned, any friendship is finished" (52). He got the last laugh here though, as he swiftly overshadowed Ralf, who showed a tendency to panic if put under pressure by other drivers, on the track. The handsome Italian also proved far more popular with the female fans. Because of such incidents, Ralf has become as isolated from the other drivers as Michael is. He shares his brother's extreme views that it is impossible for fellow drivers to be friends (53).
The press did not take to the younger Schumacher either. Ralf was made the subject of constant vilification by the media - even Formula One's legendary Murray Walker, who rarely has a bad word to say about anyone, named Ralf as the "biggest disappointment" of the season (54). Since other young drivers made more mistakes than Ralf without being castigated (where was the tabloid backlash against Jan Magnussen?), it seems fair to conclude that people generally tend to expect more of him simply because he is Michael's brother (55). His racecraft is often compared (negatively) to his elder brother's. Even Germans like telling jokes about Ralf's arrogant nature ("What's the difference between Ralf Schumacher and God? God knows he's not Ralf" "How would Ralf commit suicide? By jumping off his ego"). Alarmingly, the first of these jokes originated from Ralf's own management team! Michael is clearly "allowed" to be arrogant because he is such a good driver, whereas Ralf has yet to prove himself.
On the track Michael is therefore oppressing Ralf indirectly, but this has the same effect (castration) on Ralf as if it was intentional. Ralf may blame Michael for giving him so much to live up to and this may perhaps add to his inferiority complex. Many would argue that Ralf's behaviour gives no evidence of this: in fact, instead of acting jealously, he constantly expresses his love and support for Michael, always ready to defend him against his many detractors, and Michael himself replicates this attitude by playing the role of the protective elder brother. The 1997 French Grand Prix provided a particularly good illustration of this. Michael was leading the race but deliberately slowed down on his final lap to give Ralf, who was running in seventh place, nearly a lap behind, the chance to pass him and take sixth from the Scottish driver David Coulthard before the chequered flag was shown. This proved the perfect birthday present (Ralf turned twenty-two the following day) as it gave the younger brother a much welcomed championship point. However, the relationship between the Schumacher brothers is not as straightforward as it may first appear. Freud believed that people often display exaggerated affection towards each other as a defence mechanism to keep unconscious hostile feelings repressed (56), and indeed the picture that the Schumachers paint of their relations seems perhaps a little too idyllic to be a true one. It is not of course difficult to fathom their reasons for wanting to present a perfect image to the world. Given the amount of controversy that he has involved himself in already, Michael in particular must be aware of how the media would love to exploit any apparent feelings of jealousy that he may display towards Ralf.
Ralf is perhaps less careful than his brother to protect this image of mutual love and trust: as early as July 1995 The Times noted that he was tired of being constantly questioned about Michael and yearned to establish his own identity in motor racing (57). He often expresses irritation when journalists favour Michael's achievements over his own. When an interviewer's first question was "What do you do better than Michael?", Ralf replied sharply: "Really I don't care, to be honest " (58).
The same ambivalence can be detected in the relationship between the von Richthofen brothers. The fact that Manfred encouraged Lothar to be a pilot was cited by Richard Townshend Bickers as evidence that he was not jealous of his younger brother (59). I would however argue the opposite. His decision was motivated not, as Bickers suggests, by his inability to see his brother as a threat but rather by his desire to show that he was better than Lothar: he needed to compete with him on equal terms to prove this convincingly. Whilst Manfred and Lothar probably did not experience many conflicts before August 1914 due to their vastly divergent personalities producing different interests, the war served to make their goals identical and to bring previously repressed feelings of hatred to the surface, leading the brothers to pit themselves against one another in a fierce rivalry for domination of the skies.
Although Richthofen certainly seems proud of Lothar in his autobiography (he remarks of one particular dogfight that he observed between Lothar and a British pilot that "I myself could not have done any better than he did" (60)), he skilfully manages to oppress him at the same time. Firstly, as we have seen, he denigrates his brother by calling him a "butcher". He also notes that Lothar cannot stand the sight of his own blood - a remark clearly designed to embarrass him before the other pilots. Richthofen clearly enjoyed asserting the superiority over Lothar that was his due as his commanding officer, as the following extract demonstrates:
"When we met at home he asked me proudly: "How many have you shot down?". I said
quite modestly, "One". He turned his back upon me and said, "I did two". Thereupon I sent
him forward to make inquiries. He was to find out the names of his victims, etc. He
returned late in the afternoon having found only a single Englishman.
He had looked carelessly, as is usual amongst such butchers. Only on the following
day I received a report as to the place where the second had come down.
We had all seen his fall."
This last sentence clearly refers as much to Lothar's "fall from grace" in the eyes of the squadron as it does to the unfortunate English pilot, as yet another attempt to surpass his brother failed.
Richthofen's fear of being surpassed by Lothar was exacerbated by his head injury. He was concerned that his brother, who was also convalescing at that time, would beat his total as he had already downed twenty-four enemy aircraft in six weeks: "I am curious as to whom can climb back into the crate first, my brother or I. My brother is afraid that it will be me, and I am afraid that it will be my brother" (62). He managed to persuade his mother to keep Lothar at home until he was fully recovered, whilst returning to the airfield himself even before his bandages had been removed, to give him the advantage. Richthofen's attitude to his brother shows that sibling rivalry can be so strong it even exists in wartime when one really should be more concerned with the aim of defending one's country. He was also jealous of his brother's prowess with women, despite his own lack of interest in them. When his mother remarked that girls generally tended to pay more attention to Lothar, who was noted for his good looks, Richthofen retorted angrily: "I will make more of them look at me one of these days" (63). It is of course possible that one of the reasons he stayed away from women was because he feared that they would find him somewhat inadequate when compared to his vastly more sexually experienced younger brother.
For his part, Lothar frequently told his flying comrades of his desire to surpass Manfred in the victory stakes and resolved to try to always be the first to attack the enemy on patrol flights, so as to claim a victim before his brother (64). In Newman's fictional (but very perceptive) book, he says to another character:
"Can you imagine what it has been like having Manfred as an example for a whole lifetime?...
Even if the gods of battle will it and Manfred falls, I will never be the Red Baron.
I will always be the Red Baron's brother. I have my medals. I have my score. But I fly
in his shadow"
Ironically, this is probably very close to the truth: it expresses what Lothar may have thought but could not say so directly since he would have appeared ungrateful and unpatriotic if he had dared to even appear to show jealousy towards Germany's greatest war hero. Like Ralf, he must have longed for the chance to establish his own identity apart from his more famous elder brother's. We can take this further - it is likely that he resented Manfred's often derogatory attitude towards him and unconsciously longed for his removal. Lothar's immediate reaction to his brother's death expressed his feelings of guilt at his own passivity ("survivor guilt", as Freud would call it), for being away from the battlefield at the critical moment: "I lay in a military hospital in Dusseldorf and had not helped my brother! How often had we both saved each other's lives - [and] on his last flight I had let him down" (66). His self-reproachful feelings were, of course, generated by his superego, which recognised that his death wishes and desire to triumph over his brother had now been fulfilled.
Lothar, whose hair turned grey with grief after his brother's death, sought to atone for his guilt complex by taking an "oath of revenge" against his parents' wishes. He ignored orders not to go back to the Front and left the hospital in secret one night, telling his commanding officer that he had been passed fit for duty. It should be noted that "ordinary" soldiers had been shot for lesser offences than lying to a superior. Lothar was clearly unfit for active service so was highly likely to be shot down and killed, but like Oedipus' daughter Antigone, who loved her brother so much that she sacrificed her own life to give him a proper burial, Lothar refused to give up. He found a new "big brother" figure in fellow Silesian Erich Loewenhardt, who was in fact younger than him but who displayed the same confidence of leadership as Manfred. Loewenhardt, though, was killed in August 1918 in the same way as Boelcke had been. Lothar fulfilled his oath by claiming two planes from the unit that were believed to have shot down his brother, 209 Squadron. Lothar himself was shot down again in August 1918 and forced to retire for good - but he had gained his revenge.
Not much is related about Lothar after 1918 - after his brother's death he became increasingly unimportant to Germany. After the war he took up short-lived careers in farming and industry management, but was restless in a ground job so became a civil pilot, flying mail passengers between Berlin and Hamburg. On a routine flight to Hamburg on the fourth of July 1922, the engine of the plane failed and he had to make a forced landing in a wood. As he approached the ground he clipped a row of trees and the plane tipped over on its back. The run of luck that had protected him throughout numerous crashes during the war deserted him here: although Lothar and his two passengers - American actress Fern Andra and her business manager - were pulled from the wreckage alive, he later died in the ambulance carrying him to hospital. The manner of the von Richthofen brothers' deaths, then, reflected their preferred methods of attack during the war years: a quick clean death for Manfred the hunter, a prolonged and messy one for Lothar the butcher. Lothar's old comrades from the war attached to his floral tribute the following words: "Now the brothers, upon whom all Germany once looked with pride, are united in Valhalla" (67). Lothar's death meant that Karl Bolko, once the petted baby of the family and by all accounts a tenacious child who liked to bully his elder brothers, was now the only adult male member left. Bolko, his sister Ilse and their mother all lived long enough to experience the horrors of another war, and probably greeted it very differently to the way Manfred and Lothar (and in fact most young men) had welcomed the one which broke out in 1914.
In the final analysis, Manfred von Richthofen never really had anything to fear from Lothar. The fact that the younger brother spent so much time in hospital meant that he was never really in a position to beat the elder, although had he not been wounded so often, it might have been a very different story. Lothar eventually shot down forty planes in just seventy-seven days of combat flying, which in many ways appears more impressive than his brother's tally of 80 planes downed in twenty months, especially considering that Manfred had the advantage of eleven years of military training. Statistically, this means that Lothar was four times more likely than his brother to score a victory each time he went up in the air.
And how would one rate Ralf's chances of succeeding in the same sphere? Ralf's early career is in many respects more impressive than his elder brother's: he won his first race at eighteen to Michael's nineteen, and also came into Formula One a year younger. Michael was in fact twenty three years and two months old when he began his first full season in F1 in 1992, so therefore Ralf, having already completed a season at just twenty two years and four months old, is perhaps a more mature driver than Michael was at the same age - we can expect great things from him in the future.
It may also be relevant to consider the history of brothers in Formula One (see Fig 3.4). As is evident from this table, there had been ten sets of brothers in F1 prior to the Schumachers, although only the Scheckter, Fittipaldi and Whitehead siblings actually competed against each other in this particular formula. In contrast to the norm, younger brothers have proved as successful overall as elder ones, with five younger siblings outshining their elder brothers (it would probably have been six, if Rodriguez minor had lived longer). Three of these (Jody Scheckter, Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi) became World Champions, whilst Michael is the first World Champion to have had a younger sibling following him into F1. F1 siblings also seem to have suffered from higher than average mortality rates: Gilles Villeneuve, Manfred Winklehock, Peter Whitehead and both Rodriguez brothers were all killed during qualifying sessions or races of some kind. At least one of these deaths can be attributed to sibling strife: Graham Whitehead was driving the car in which his (half) brother met his death, but escaped serious injury himself.
1)Michael failed to finish the Australian, Canadian, French, British and Hungarian Grand Prixes through car unreliability.
2) Even as a F3000 driver Ralf was influencing his brother's F1 career - when he came third in a Japanese race he telephoned Michael and challenged him to better this, which Michael promptly did with a second place at the Nurburgring. See Nottage, Jane (1998) Ferrari: The Passion and the Pain (revised edition), CollinsWillow, London, p.37.
3) The title has no English equivalent: "Baron" is the closest rank available and it is usually translated as such.
4) This connection was through Jung's grandfather, Carl Gustav Jung the elder, who was said to be Goethe's illegitimate son.
5) This was Michael's description of how he and Ralf appeared as children. See Schumacher, Michael, quoted in The Sunday Times Magazine, July 5 1998.
6) See Kilduff, Peter (1995) Richthofen: Beyond the Legend of the Red Baron, Arms and Armour, London, p.73.
7) See Kilduff, Peter (1995) p.198.
8) However, this passage did appear in later versions of the book, long after his death.
9) The comic's hero, a philosophical beagle. See Schulz, Charles M. ( 1980) Peanuts Jubilee, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
10) This image of Richthofen as a man totally lacking in emotion, however, is not a completely accurate one as he did sometimes demonstrate strong reactions to the deaths of comrades, as Peter Kilduff (1995) has shown. In addition, his private writings (as we saw earlier in this section) often revealed his troubled mental state.
11) See Newman, Kim (1996) The Bloody Red Baron, Simon & Schuster Ltd, London, p.106.
12) See Burrows, William E. (1970) Richthofen: A True History of the Red Baron, Rupert Hart Davis, London, p.164.
13) See Burrows, William E. (1970). Stephen Longstreet provides a particularly poetic description of Richthofen's reactions to his first (uncredited) victory that encompasses this idea: "But there had been a kill, and he had felt again in his loins the same glow as when he got a deer in his rifle sights, or broke the charge of a wild boar with the massive blast of a heavy rifle." See Longstreet, Stephen ( 1995) The Canvas Falcons: The Men and Planes of World War 1, Barnes & Noble, New York, p.94.
14) See Freud, Sigmund and various (ed. Ernst L. Freud; trans. Tania and James Stern) ([various dates] 1961) The Letters of Sigmund Freud 1873-1939, Hogarth Press, London, p.430.
15) See Newman, Kim (1996) p.233.
16) Aviation historian Peter Kilduff believed that Richthofen suffered from this, especially after his head wound. See Kilduff (1995) p.174.
17) See Introduction to 'Psychoanalysis and the War Neuroses' (1919), Standard Edition XVII.
18) See Wheatley, Dennis ( 1966) The Man Who Missed The War, Arrow Books Ltd, London, pp.155-6.
19) See Barkai, Avraham (1996) The German Volksgemeinschaft From the Persecution of the Jews to the Final Solution, in Burleigh, Michael (ed.) (1996) Confronting the Nazi Past: New Debates on Modern German History, Collins & Brown, London.
20) See Fischer, Klaus P. (1995) Nazi Germany: A New History, Constable, London, p.42.
21) Goering took over Jagdgeschwader (JG) 1 (which comprised four Jasta's, including Richthofen's original 11) after Wilhelm Reinhard, named as Richthofen's successor in his will, was killed during a test flight on the third of July 1918.
22) See Burrows, William E. (1970) p.220.
23) I use the word "senseless" as the Nazi policy towards the Jews defied rational logic: no reasonable person could truly believe that the tiny percentage of Jews in Germany had ever really posed a serious threat to the state, especially not in the pitiful condition to which they had been reduced by the late 1930's.
24) See Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah (1996) Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Abacus, London. Goldhagen's book provoked furious debate amongst European historians, some refuting his thesis entirely and others defending it just as fervently. Whilst I believe that he fails to consider the Dolchstoss sufficiently when examining the reasons for German anti-Semitism, and do not subscribe to the view that the Holocaust could "only have been perpetrated by Germans", I still find his book useful for its deconstruction of a number of longstanding myths about the Holocaust. The most important of these are, firstly, that Germans who refused to kill Jews would be severely punished; and secondly, that genocidal killings were carried out largely by SS men. Given the scale of the Holocaust, even those who reject Goldhagen's ideas can hardly continue to plead ignorance for the German public.
25) See Bartov Omer (1996) Savage War, in Burleigh, Michael (ed.) (1996) Confronting the Nazi Past: New Debates on Modern German History, Collins & Brown, London, p.135. A 1980 demographic survey found that five million West Germans (13% of the country) were committed extremists who wanted another Hitlerite leader, whilst a further 37% had strong right wing views - thus a mere twenty years ago 50% of the population were at least potential Nazis. See Lee, Martin (1997) The Beast Reawakens: The Chilling Story of the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Movement, Little Brown & Co, London p.198.
26) See Lee, Martin (1997).
27) Riefenstahl, by now in her nineties, was refused permission to exhibit her series of films glorifying the Nazi regime (most notably her record of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, Triumph of the Will) as historical documents by the Social Democratic government as they feared that this would be exploited by Neo-Nazi groups.
28) See Fulbrook, Mary (1999) German National Identity After the Holocaust, Polity Press, Cambridge, p.141.
29) See Kremer, John and Deirdre Scully (1994) Psychology in Sport, Taylor & Francis, London, p.126.
30) See Goodhart, Philip and Christopher Chataway (1968) War Without Weapons: The rise of mass sport in the twentieth century and its effect on men and nations, W. H. Allen, London, p.158. Konrad Lorenz expresses a similar view in On Aggression (trans. Marjorie Kerr Wilson) ( 1970), Bantam Books, New York.
31) See Russell, Gordon W. (1993) The Social Psychology of Sport, Springer-Verlag, New York.
32) See Wheatley, Dennis ( 1958) Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts, Hutchinson & Co, London, p.211.
33) See Goodhart, Philip and Christopher Chataway (1968), p.21.
34) Wolfgang von Trips (born not far from Michael's home town of Kerpen) and Stefan Bellof, Germany's previous hopes for Formula One success, were both killed in motor races.
35) See Longstreet, Stephen (1995) p.313.
36) See "The Scrutineer", "Black Flag", in F1 Racing, October 1998.
37) Some would object to this conclusion on the grounds that whilst a list of the most successful Formula One drivers covers a period of nearly fifty years, that of First World War flying aces covers less than three years. However, since my attempts to find out exactly how many pilots were mobilised in World War One (and their overall fatality rates), have so far proved unsuccessful, there seems no other way to make such a comparison. The corresponding figures for F1 (from the 576 drivers to have started at least one race since 1950) are: 77 fatalities from all motor races participated in by these drivers, with 37 of these fatalities from F1 (twenty-one in testing or qualifying and sixteen in the race itself). This gives an overall fatality rate of 6.42% for F1 or 13.37% for all races. It is true, however, that F1 has become a lot safer for the drivers over the last fifteen years: Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger are the only recent fatalities.
38) This also serves as a pretty good publicity shot for Ferrari as Michael is probably aware that Ferrari's prancing horse symbol was inherited from another famous First World War flying ace - the Italian Francesco Baracca, who shot down 34 planes before his death in June 1918.
39) See On Narcissism (1914), Standard Edition XIV.
40) See Laplanche, Jean and Jean-Bernard Pontalis (1973) The Language of Psychoanalysis, Hogarth Press, London, p.202.
41) See Breitman, Richard (1999) Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew, Allen Lane, London. Britain is by no means free of anti-Semitism even today, as a recent Sunday Times article vividly demonstrated. See Norman, Philip, "Paranoid? We have every reason to be" in The Sunday Times, July 11 1999.
42) See Kilduff, Peter (1995) p.7.
43) See Penfold, Chuck (1998) Formula One The 1998 Season: The Showdown, Michael O Mara Books Ltd, London, p.40.
44) See Kilduff, Peter (1995) p.239.
45) See the next section for a striking conformation of this.
46) See Bodenschatz, Karl (trans. Jan Hayzlett) ( 1996) Hunting with Richthofen, Grub Street, London pp.48-9.
47) See Longstreet, Stephen (1995) p.93.
48) See Herbert, Johnny, quoted in F1 Racing, October 1997.
49) See Sauber, Peter, quoted in F1 Racing, October 1997.
50) See Schumacher, Ralf, quoted on ITV Sport, September 28 1997.
51) See Schumacher, Ralf, quoted in Autosport, December 19/26 1996.
52) See Tremayne, David (1998) Jordan: Formula 1 Racing Team, Haynes Publishing, Sparkford, p.142.
53) See Schumacher, Ralf, quoted in The Sunday Times Magazine, July 5 1998. It should however be noted that both are considered to be close to the French-Sicilian driver Jean Alesi, perhaps because he has never been a career (or championship) threat to either of them.
54) See Arron, Simon (ed.) (1997) Grand Prix Year 1997, Hazleton Publishing, London, p.47.
55) The constant criticism to which Ralf has been subjected seems especially unfair when we consider that (unlike the von Richthofen brothers) Ralf and Michael were not competing in equal machines: the Jordan was much less powerful than the Ferrari, and Ralf after all is over six years younger than his brother.
56) See Totem and Taboo (1913-14), Standard Edition XIII, p.49. Similarly, Freud noted in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900, Standard Edition IV, p.251) that "many people who love their brothers and sisters and would feel bereaved if they were to die, harbour evil wishes against them in their unconscious." This is also the case, of course, with parents, as is evident, for example, in the "Rat Man" case history. Whilst the Rat Man deeply loved his (dead) father, concealed resentment against him led to cryptic hateful dreams in which his father was subjected to "the rat punishment" - a cage of starving rats were tied to his behind to burrow through his anus.
57) See Holt, Oliver "Schumacher races to close gap in relative values", in The Times, July 19 1995.
58) See Schumacher, Ralf, quoted in GPX, August 20 1998. Ralf displayed similar annoyance when quizzed over Michael's health and comeback prospects before the 1999 Grand Prix at Spa (Michael broke a leg during the race at Silverstone that year): "He did not even tell me that he was going to test....I don't suppose I will talk to him at all this weekend" (quoted on the F1 Racing website, www.itv-f1.com, August 27 1999.
59) See Bickers, Richard Townshend (1996) Von Richthofen: The Legend Evaluated, Airlife Publishing Ltd, Shrewsbury, p.66.
60) See Richthofen, Manfred von (trans. C. G. Grey) ( 1990) The Red Air Fighter, Greenhill, London, p.133.
61) See Richthofen, Manfred von (1990) p.150.
62) See Kilduff, Peter (1995) p.134.
63) See Baker, David (1990) Manfred von Richthofen, Outline Press, London, p.20.
64) See Richthofen, Lothar von (1920) Memories of My Brother, in Kilduff, Peter (ed. and trans.) ([various dates] 1969) The Red Baron, Bailey Bros & Swinfen Ltd, Folkestone.
65) See Newman, Kim (1996) p.231.
66) See Kilduff, Peter (1995) p.209.
67) See Franks, Norman and Hal Giblin (1997) Under the Guns of the German Aces: Immelmann, Voss, Goring and Lothar von Richthofen, Grub Street, London, p.188.
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