Friedrich Wilhelm von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau

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Friedrich Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau
Friedrich Wilhelm Franz Max Erdmann Gustav von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau.jpg
Birth name Friedrich Wilhelm Franz Max Erdmann Gustav von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau
Birth date 12 December 1880(1880-12-12)
Place of birth Glatz, Province of Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 22 May 1963 (aged 82)
Place of death Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, West Germany[1]
Allegiance  German Empire
Weimar Republic Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War and service flag of Prussia (1895–1918).png Prussian Army
Reichskolonialflagge.png Schutztruppe (1902–08)
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Preliminary Reichswehr
Luftwaffe eagle.jpg Luftwaffe (1937–45)
Years of service 1898–1919
Rank Oberst (Colonel)
Battles/wars Maji Maji War
World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1909 Henriëtte Baronesse van der Goes

Friedrich Wilhelm Franz Max Erdmann Gustav von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau (sometimes also Friedrich-Wilhelm;[2] 1880–1963) was a German officer of the Prussian Army, the Schutztruppe, the Imperial German Army, the Freikorps, the provisional Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, finally colonel of the Luftwaffe in World War II.


Friedrich Wilhelm Franz Max Erdmann Gustav von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau II.jpg
Lisa Knüppel (Lindeiner).jpg
Family grave von of Lindeiner genannt von Wildau.jpg

Friedrich Wilhelm von Lindeiner attended the Corps of Cadets (Kadettenkorps) and belonged to the very best of his class. On 15 March 1898, after graduation, he entered the 4th Company/3. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß in Berlin as a commisioned 2nd Lieutenant. On 1 May 1902, as was mandatory, he resigned from the Prussian Army and entered the Schutztruppe for German East Africa the following day. He served as the Adjutant of the Governor of German East Africa Gustav Adolf Graf von Götzen from 20 June to 13 September 1905 and as the Headquarters Adjutant of the Schutztruppe for German East Africa from 7 September to 11 October 1906 during the bloody Maji Maji Rebellion (starting July 1905), which soon covered around half of the colony. Von Götzen was forced to request reinforcements from the German Empire. Not until August 1907 were the last embers of rebellion extinguished. In its wake, the rebellion had left 15 Germans and 389 Askaris , several German civilians murdered and tens or even hundreds of thousands of insurgents dead.

He left Schutztruppe service on on 31 July 1908 and re-entered the Prussian Army on 1 August 1908 with a simultaneous promotion to Oberleutnant and was assigned to the 4. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß. On 20 July 1912, on promotion to Hauptmann, he was assigned as the commander of 11. Company/1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß. On 10 August 1914, he was assigned as the commander of the Infanterie-Stabswache at the General Headquarters of the Kaiser in the Field (Großes Hauptquartier Seiner Majestät des Kaisers und Königs). On 19 September 1914, he returned to his regiment as commander of the 11. Company where he was wounded at Ypres on 17 November 1914. Returning to duty on 13 April 1915, he assumed command of 5. Company/1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß and then II. Bataillon/1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß on 27 May 1915. He was again wounded during the pursuit between the River Bug and Jasiolda on 29 August 1915. Once again returning to duty, he took over III. (Füsilier-)Bataillon/1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß and was yet again severely wounded on 5 December 1915 in positional fighting around Roye-Noyon (Fresnieres).

On 24 September 1916, he was assigned to Etappen-Inspektion 5 (Lines of Communication Inspectorate) and on 4 October 1916 assigned as the personal Adjutant of Prussian Prince Joachim Franz Humbert Prinz von Preußen (1890–1920). Following his return to his regiment on 30 October 1917, he became the adjutant to the Governor of Riga and Dünamünde. Appointed as adjutant to the Garde-Reserve-Korps on 23 April 1918, he was promoted to Major on 15 July 1918. His final wartime appointment was as adjutant of the 4th Army which he assumed on 8 November 1918.

Following the Armistice, he was leader of the collecting point in Potsdam of the Volunteer Border Protection Unit East and Upper East (Grenzschutz Ost) from 18 January 1919. He retired on 20 September 1919 from the preliminary Reichswehr with permission to wear the uniform of the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß.

He spent several years in business, and travelled extensively around Europe and the Americas. Later he was based in the Netherlands and moved back to Germany with his family in 1932. Von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau felt obliged to accept a position in the Luftwaffe in 1937 as one of Hermann Göring’s personal staff. In 1939, he became Chef Ic Gruppe III Ref. A (Country processing Great Britain and the Netherlands) with the Luftwaffe general staff (Luftwaffenführungsstab). He developed plans for the Luftwaffe in case of a campaign in the West and German landings in Great Britain. On 1 April 1942, he was promoted to colonel. His appointment to be the Kommandant of Stalag Luft III at Sagan in the spring on 24 April 1942 represented another opportunity to serve his country. He installed himself and his family at the Jeschkendorf Manor, some three miles west of Sagan. As of 15 October 1943, he was also commandant of Stalag Luft 4 (IV), established at Sagan-Belaria in 1943 and then moved to Groß-Tychow in mid-1944.

Some sources claim, Colonel von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau received a court martial and was stripped of rank. This is not the case. There were proceedings for neglect of his duties, but, as Göring testified in Nuremberg on 20 March 1946, he was probably sentenced to a year in prison on probation. In February 1945, he was wounded by Russian troops advancing towards Berlin while acting as second in command of an infantry unit defending Sagan and was transported to the west. He later surrendered to invading British forces as the war ended.

Stalag Luft III

Stalag Luft III (Kriegsgefangenen-Stammlager der Luftwaffe Nr. 3 zu Sagan), a large prisoner of war camp near Sagan, Silesia, German Reich, was the site of an escape attempt. Sub-divided into a Nordlager (North Camp) for Americans, a Mittellager (Central Camp) and Ostlager (East Camp) for British and other nationalities, and a Südlager (South Camp). The camp at capacity was designed to hold 10,000 prisoners. It had a size of 59 acres, with five miles of perimeter fencing. Security was strict, but life was quite tolerable. Only 5% of the POWs were considered to be dedicated escapers. The others would, however, work in support of any escape attempts.

Had it not been for food parcels sent in via the International Red Cross (who also made inspection visits), food would have been a serious problem in all POW camps. Food parcels sent by relatives were essential. The guards themselves were not much better off than the prisoners, in terms of food, especially in the last 12 months of the war. On average, one parcel per week per man was provided. The rule in most of the camps was that both "individual" (for a named person, sent and paid for by relatives and containing a mixture of goods) and "bulk" parcels (for general distribution, sent and paid for by the International Red Cross, and containing a supply of a single item) were pooled. Thus, replacement clothing, shaving and washing kit, coffee, tea, tinned meat, jam, sugar and essentials were distributed equally. In many other camps, captured officers were paid an equivalent of their pay in "Lagergeld" or internal camp currency, and could buy items such as musical instruments and what few everyday goods which were available. Captured NCO’s did not receive any such allowance, but the officers regularly pooled Lagergeld from their own pay, and transferred these to the NCOs’ compound. It was strictly forbidden to be in possession of real German currency, a vital escape aid.[3]

On 24 March 1944, after a plan conceived by Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Roger Joyce Bushell (shot down during the Battle of France, POW since 23 May 1940, fluent in French and German) and authorised by the senior British officer at Stalag Luft III, Air Commodore Herbert Martin Massey (due to ill-health repatriated to the UK in 1944), 76 Allied prisoners, some fighter pilots, the vast majority shot down during terror bombings of Germany, escaped through a 110 m (approximately 360 feet) long tunnel. Of these, 73 were recaptured within two weeks, and 50 of them were executed by personal order of Adolf Hitler to discourage further escape attempts of this kind.

The criminal police control center in Breslau later received a letter from the RSHA (Office V), which was to be communicated to the camp commandant with the request that the text be passed on to the English prisoners as a deterrent. The letter stated that the shooting was carried out for the reasons stated above. The contents were transmitted to Colonel Lindeiner or one of the camp officers.

This was immortalized in several books, especially The Great Escape (1950) by Paul Brickhill, and a blockbuster movie, although largely fictionalized, The Great Escape (1963). He has been portrayed by Manfred Andrae in the made-for-TV film The Great Escape II: The Untold Story (1988). I this film, even more fictionalized than the first, he is depicted as being executed by firing squad for his failure to prevent the breakout.

On 1 December 1944, Sagan-Carlswalde was recorded with the following POW complement: 6,765 American, 3,489 British and 170 Soviet. On 27 January 1945, as the Red Army invaded Silesia, the Stalag Luft 3 prisoners were divided into four groups: (1) Groups 1 and 2 were transferred to Stalag VII A, (2) Group 3 was transferred to Nürnberg where it was incarcerated in a Teillager (branch camp) of Stalag XIII D; this branch camp was closed on 4 April 1945 and the men were moved to Stalag VII A/B; (3) Group 4 was transferred to Marlag/Milag Nord (Naval Camp/Military Camp North of the Kriegsmarine) in Westertimke/26.5 km NE of Bremen in northern Germany, arriving there on 4 February 1945.


Von Lindeiner-Wildau was imprisoned for two years at the British prisoner of interrogation camp known as the "London Cage". He testified during the British SIB investigation concerning the Stalag Luft III mass escape. Allied former prisoners at Stalag Luft III testified that he had followed the Geneva Conventions concerning the treatment of POWs and had won the unconditional respect of the senior prisoners. He was repatriated in 1947. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Scotland (1882–1965), a British veteran of the German Schutztruppen, had written him private letters and confirmed in them, von Lindeiner-Wildau was an "officer and gentleman without fault or blame".


Retired Colonel Friedrich Wilhelm von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau died in 1963 at the age of 82, less than two months before the film The Great Escape was released (he was the basis for the character "Colonel von Luger" played in the film by actor Hannes Messemer). He was buried at the main cemetery (Hauptfriedhof) in Frankfurt am Main with military honours.


Friedrich Wilhelm was the son of Lieutenant General Karl Heinrich Friedrich Gustav von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau (1832–1891) and his wife Ernestine "Erna" Bernhardine Franziska Bendler (1852–1936). His older brother Friedrich Gustav Franz, the first born, died on 28 March 1871 after only five days of life. He also had three older sisters, and one younger one. His younger brother Captain of the Reserves Hans-Erdmann Wasmuth Alexander Friedrich Franz Martin (1883–1947) was jurist, judge and politician as well as Knight of Honour (Ehrenritter) of the Johanniter-Orden and father of five children.


On 25 March 1909 in The Hague, 1st Lieutenant von Lindeiner genannt von Wildau married his fiancée Henriëtte "Effie" Marie Georgine Baronesse van der Goes (b. 23 December 1878 in Utrecht, Netherlands), daughter of Henri Maarten Anton Baron van der Goes van Dirxland (1841–1890), first Director of the Steam Tram Company Samarang–Joana on the Dutch East Indies as well as Director of the Oost-Java Stoomtram Maatschappij (since 7 June 1888), and his wife Joanna Cornelie Junius, née van Hemert (d. 2 January 1879 only days after giving birth to her third daughter). They had two children:

  • Lucie Cornelie Ernestine Friederike Juliane (b. 31 July 1910 in Berlin; d. 2 November 1919 in Utrecht)
  • Elisabeth-Charlotte "Liselotte" Adolphine Friederike (b. 11 December 1911 in Berlin; d. 3 November 1980); ∞ Berlin 28 November 1933 1st Lieutenant Albrecht Erich Eberhard Friedrich von Warburg, later Colonel of the German Army in WWII


  • Im Dienst der deutschen Luftwaffe (In service of the German Air Force)
  • Das Kriegsgefangenenwesen der Luftwaffe während des Zweiten Weltkrieges (The Luftwaffe prisoner of war system during the Second World War)
    • Elaborations on the Luftwaffe No. 3 prisoner of war camp in Sagan (Stalag Luft 3) and the escape of 76 prisoners of war from the Royal Air Force in the night of 24/25 March 1944


  • 15 March 1898 Sekondeleutnant (2nd Lieutenant)
  • 1 August 1908 Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant) with Patent from 19 May 1907
  • 20 July 1912 Hauptmann (Captain)
  • 15 July 1918 Major
  • c. 1940 Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel)
  • 1 April 1942 Oberst (Colonel)

Awards and decorations (excerpt)



  1. Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Adelige Häuser B Vol. XII, Vol. 64 of total series. Limburg an der Lahn, Germany: C. A. Starke, 1977, p. 256
  2. Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Adeligen Häuser, Teil A, 1941, p. 343
  4. Kolonial-Denkmünze, award list