The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

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woneil
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The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by woneil » 13 Feb 2014 04:36

The mystery is not about who he was: a Generalstabs officer who from 1908 through the 1930s played a central role in organizing and equipping first the Luftstreitkräfte and then the Luftwaffe. But in contemporary German-language sources he seems always to be referred to as plain Hermann Thomsen, although they frequently note that he was also known as Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen. His headstone in the Invalidenfriedhof is marked von der Lieth-Thomsen (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... homsen.jpg) and Deutsche Biographie also notes von der Lieth-Thomsen as a variant name.

So why would a Prussian officer who had a particle of nobility not use it?

Will O'Neil

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by Dave Danner » 13 Feb 2014 09:07

He wasn't a member of the nobility. "Von der Lieth" is a surname derived from a place name, and the "von" here doesn't indicate nobility. I don't know his family history, but I would guess his hyphenated name was the result of adoption. He only appears as "v. der Lieth-Thomsen" in the Militär-Wochenblatt in 1888, when he was promoted to Portepee-Fähnrich. After that, he is just Thomsen in the Militär-Wochenblatt and in Prussian Army ranklists. There were lots of other Thomsens, and a handful of von der Lieths show up in the Militär-Wochenblatt, but he was the only one with both, and again only that one time.

I suppose he went back to the hyphenated name after he became prominent, to distinguish himself from other Thomsens.

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by woneil » 13 Feb 2014 17:43

That makes sense. The impression I get in reading about him is that his background was pretty rustic. His family had only become "Prussians" by conquest a few years before his birth. He must have been very able to get where he did.

Do you know any sources on his activities im Großen Generalstab, 1905-1914?

Thanks,
Will O'Neil

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by W.Vermeer » 13 Feb 2014 20:51

He was born as Hermann Thomsen on March 10th, 1867 in Flensburg. He changed himself his name to von der Lieth-Thomsen, why I have not yet been able to find.

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by Doktor Krollspell » 14 Feb 2014 08:25

woneil wrote:Do you know any sources on his activities im Großen Generalstab, 1905-1914?
Here's what it says about him in Terry C. Treadwell & Alan C. Wood's "German Knights of the Air 1914-1918" (1997)...
...over the next few years his organisational skills were honed to such an extent that he sent to the Prussian War Academy in 1909. After graduating Leith-Thomsen was given the position of Chief if the Technical Section of the German Greater General Staff, a position he held until the outbreak of the First World War.
In May 1914 he was promoted to Oberleutnant (must mean Obersleutnant) and assigned as General Staff Officer with the Inspection of the Air and Ground Transportation System.

Regards,

Krollspell

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by W.Vermeer » 14 Feb 2014 10:23

For his service I now have:
October 1st, 1887: Fahnenjunker, Schleswig-Holsteinische Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 9;
October 14th, 1890: Kompanieoffizier, 1. Lothringischen Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 16;
October 18th, 1896: 3. Ingenieur-Inspektion / Fortifikation Metz;
Ocotber 1st, 1897 - July 20th, 1900: Preußischen Kriegsakademie;
April 1st, 1901: Großen Generalstab (function???);
April 1st, 1903: Fortifikation Straßburg;
April 18th, 1903 - October 18th, 1905: Kompaniechef, 2. Elsässischen Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 19;
October 19th, 1905: Großen Generalstab (function???);
1907: Bearbeitung des Flugwesens, Technischen Sektion, Großen Generalstab.
1913: Inspektion des Militär-Luft- und Kraftfahrwesen
February 17th, 1914: Stab, Eisenbahn-Regiments Nr. 2, Hanau;
?: 8. Armee;
August 2nd, 1914: Generalstabsoffizier, Luftschiffes z. V.;
August, 1914: Ia, Brigade Von der Goltz;
August 22nd, 1914: Ia, XXIV. Reservekorps;
March 12th, 1914: Generalstab des Heeres;
March 27th, 1915: Chef des Feldflugwesens, Obersten Heeresleitung, Großen Hauptquartier;
November 12th, 1916: Stabschef , Kommandierenden General der Luftstreitkräfte (Kogenluft);
January 12th, 1919: Chef des Flugwesens, preußischen Kriegsministerium;
March 1st, 1919: Abteilungsleiter, preußischen Kriegsministerium;
August 11th, 1919: Retirement;
1925: Leiter Militärmission in der Sowjetunion;
November 1st, 1935: Abteilungsleiter , kriegswissenschaftlichen Abteilung der Luftwaffe.
August 5th, 1942: Died
Last edited by W.Vermeer on 14 Feb 2014 10:58, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by W.Vermeer » 14 Feb 2014 10:38

For now I have on his Promotions:
August 18th, 1888: Fähnrich;
September 21st, 1889: Sekondeleutnant;'
February 16th, 1897: Premierleutnant;
May 17th, 1902: Hauptmann (as character)
September 15th, 1904: Hauptmann;
March 20th, 1911: Major;
March 22nd, 1916: Oberstleutnant;
August 18th, 1918: Oberst;
November 1st, 1935: Generalmajor;
August 2nd, 1937: Generalleutnant (as character);
March 1st, 1939: Generalleutnant;
April 1st, 1939: General der Flieger (as character);
August 1st, 1939: General der Flieger
Last edited by W.Vermeer on 14 Feb 2014 10:47, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by W.Vermeer » 14 Feb 2014 10:41

Some photos

Image
Source WW2Wargraves

Here standing:
Image
Source Wikipedia

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by W.Vermeer » 14 Feb 2014 10:42

Another one
Image
Source: Frontflieger.de

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by thegeneral » 19 Aug 2015 04:48

Gentlemen, I thought you might be interested in another take on the name von der Lieth. You may check the sources used here, obviously, but this writer believes the name does have some ruler or noble history, as you'll see. And you may also like to check the origin of the word "von" in the Norse. The geographic area in which this family lived for many generations was of course not unfamiliar to the Vikings and Proto-Vikings. I fear you may be selling our general short.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmlohe

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Re: The mysterious Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen

Post by Heimatschuss » 19 Aug 2015 13:35

Hello,

according to Supf (1958, p.305) Hermann's grandfather Peter Thomsen married one Martha von der Lieth who was the only child of her parents. Since then the family called themselves 'Von der Lieth - Thomsen'. (http://tinyurl.com/oe5n2sh)

A website (http://www.frontflieger.de/3_312364_t.html) quoting from the 1935 edition of Supf's book even says the family had official permission for this name change. I'm rather sceptical about this claim after finding their file cards from the Danish national census of 1845: [Schleswig and Holstein were governed by the Kings of Denmark until 1864.]
http://www.danishfamilysearch.dk/cid6482447
http://www.danishfamilysearch.dk/cid6482448
http://www.danishfamilysearch.dk/cid6482449
http://www.danishfamilysearch.dk/cid6482450
http://www.danishfamilysearch.dk/cid6482451
http://www.danishfamilysearch.dk/cid6482452
Neither the couple nor their children were registered as 'von der Lieth-Thomsen', the children are just 'Thomsen'. Additionally the profession of Peter Thomsen is given as a mere 'Miethsmann und Tagelöhner' i.e. someone hired just for short periods of time (sometimes just on a daily basis) as a servant or (farm) worker. I very much doubt the authorities would have approved a plea by someone like him to have his family name changed.

The - most likely unauthorized - change of the family name appears to have actually taken place unter Hermann's father Peter Gerhard Thomsen and it wasn't so much the aim to maintain the old and dignified name 'von der Lieth' but to have the warm sun of pseudo-nobility shine on him.

In his late years Hermann Thomsen obviously felt safe enough (i.e. high enough in the hierarchy) to revive the old though false designation. Or did he just use it as a pen name in his late years though even these had to be approved by the Reichskulturkammer?

Sources:
Supf, Peter
Das Buch der deutschen Fluggeschichte. Vol. 2: Vorkriegszeit, Kriegszeit, Nachkriegszeit bis 1932.
Drei Brunnen Verlag; Stuttgart; 1958

Best regards
Torsten

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