Günther von Reibnitz
|Günther von Reibnitz|
8 September 1894|
Mistitz, Silesia, German Empire
|Died||2 March 1983
Breitbrunn am Chiemsee, Germany
|Children||Margarita von Reibnitz
Friedrich von Reibnitz
Marie Christine, Princess Michael of Kent
Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz (8 September 1894 – 2 March 1983) was a cavalry officer of the German Empire during the First World War. He joined the Nazi Party in 1930 and was a member of the SS Cavalry Corps.
Reibnitz married four times and was the father of Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, who in 1978 became Princess Michael of Kent on her marriage to Prince Michael of Kent, taking the traditional form of title and style. Two of his grandchildren, Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor, are in the line of succession to the British throne.
Günther von Reibnitz  descended from an old Silesian family and was the son of the Baron Hans Egon von Reibnitz (1856-1918), who married Baroness Ida von Eickstedt (1867-1937)  on 19 February 1887 in Gieraltowitz, Upper Silesia. Reibnitz was born on 8 September 1894 at Mistitz in the Prussian province of Silesia, now Miejsce Odrzańskie, having since become part of Poland. He was educated at the Prussian military cadet academy at Berlin-Lichterfelde, gratuating at the end of 1913. In March 1914 he received his commission as an ensign in the 2nd Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg Dragoons Regiment No. 18 in Parchim. After the start of the First World War he was severely wounded in August 1914 and became a prisoner of war of the French for most of the duration of the war. Shortly before he was exchanged for a French officer his father died on 20 September 1918 in Berlin.
In the leadup to the post-war plebiscite to resolve German and Polish territorial claims to Upper Silesia, Reibnitz and his brother Joachim founded two regiments of German irregulars (Freikorps) to guard the Oder river border between Cosel and Ratibor. Reibnitz’s first marriage was to Margherita Schoen, widow of Friedrich Ernst Graf von Seherr-Thoss (1881-1918), and daughter of Gustav Schoen and Elisabeth Wentzel. Thereafter, he took over the management of her estate Krzanowitz in Upper Silesia. Their daughter Margarita was born on 18 January 1924 in Krzanowitz. The marriage ended in divorce on 15 April 1931 in Breslau. After their separation Reibnitz established a farm in Hahnenvorwerk near Silverberg in Silesia for breeding animals for the fur trade, but he closed it down when he was appointed in 1933 to the (honorary) position of regionial director of hunting for Silesia. On 1 December 1930 Reibnitz joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP member number 412855) and on 15 April 1933 he became a member of the Cavalry SS (SS number 66010).
Reibnitz married firstly Margherita Schoen (1893–1962), widow of Count Friedrich Ernst von Seherr-Thoss, daughter of Gustav Schoen and Elisabeth Wentzel. Their daughter Margarita was born at Krzanowitz on 18 January 1924. He and his wife were divorced at Breslau on 15 April 1931.
As a captain in the regular army reserve, Reibnitz was recalled to active service at the start of the Second World War. However, he was not a very loyal party member. Already in 1937 he was cited to appear before the uppermost party court for denigrating the swastika flag, but by reaffirming his loyalty he was able to extract himself from the affair; he had also referred to the leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, as the "chicken farmer". Soon after he rejoined the armed forces, Reibnitz was sent back to the so-called home front due to heart problems. He informed the SS of his marriage (on 17 December 1941 in Breslau) to his second wife Maria Anna Countess Szápáry de Muraszombath, Széchysziget et Szapár (1911-1998), a daughter of the Austro-Hungarian diplomat Count Frigyes Szapáry (1869-1935), but he did not inform them of his intention to seek an annulment of his first marriage so that he could marry his second wife in a Catholic ceremony, or that the children of the marriage would be raised in the Catholic faith. This was interpreted by the regime as disloyal. It was seen as incriminating that he and his wife practiced their Catholic faith openly. Because his wife was already under observation by the Gestapo over her contacts before the war with supposed British Secret Service agents, as well as a range of essentially minor "transgressions", his situation became increasingly critical, until in 1944 he was dismissed from the Nazi Party, from the Cavalry SS and from the post of the regional director of hunting for Silesia. On 16 November 1942 his son Friedrich was born in Breslau, and on 15 January 1945 his daughter Marie Christine was born in Karlsbad (today’s Karlovy Vary in Czechia), near the estate of her maternal grandmother Countess Hedwig Szápáry, a daughter of Prince Alfred III Windisch-Grätz.
In the confusion towards the end of the war he managed to avoid his transfer, personally ordered by Himmler, to the Dirlewanger special unit, and was able to find refuge with his old army regiment. In May 1945 he escaped from Soviet captivity and make his way back to Bavaria. There he was interned by the Americans, was investigated and was eventually classified by the Appeals Tribunal for Upper Bavaria on 14 May 1948 as a “nominal party member”, “not a member of any organization condemned as criminal in the Nuremberg judgment” and “equivalent to a non-accused person”.
His second marriage had ended in divorce in 1946. In 1950 his former wife moved with her children to Australia. Reibnitz lived first in Munich, where he worked in the fur trade and then in insurance. In 1950 he moved to South Africa to open his own insurance business. On 12 May 1950 in Johannesburg he married Esther Schütte (born in 1909). The marriage ended in divorce on 12 July 1956 in Pretoria when he decided to become a farmer in Mozambique. On 15 December 1956 in Umtali, Southern Rhodesia, he married Rosemarie born Kramer, widow of Baron Gustav von Buddenbrock (1907-1999), and daughter of Alois Karl Kramer. He developed his wife’s farm Maforga  and made it economically productive. As the widow of Gustav von Buddenbrock, his wife is called Baroness Rosemarie von Buddenbrock in some sources.
In 1976 Reibnitz retired to Germany, while his wife travelled between Germany and Mozambique and continued to manage the farm. He spent his old age in Hemmingen and died on 2 March 1983 in Breitbrunn am Chiemsee in Bavaria. His grave is in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In 1986 his widow returned to Germany on health grounds and left the farm to neighbouring Christian missionaries. She died on 30 November 1999 in Marquartstein, Bavaria. Maforga continues to this day as a mission.
Margarita, Reibnitz's daughter from his first marriage, married Charles Jacques Francisco in Sharon, Connecticut, USA on 14 September 1947.
On 30 June 1978 in Vienna, Reibnitz had attended the civil wedding of his daughter Marie Christine to HRH Prince Michael of Kent. He became the grandfather of Lord Frederick Windsor (born in 1979) and Lady Gabriella Windsor (born in 1981). On 30 June 1979 in Sydney, Reibnitz’s only son Frederick married secondly Helen Rodda Williams, daughter of Professor Sir Bruce Rodda Williams, vice chancellor of the University of Sydney.
In 1985 details became public for the first time concerning Reibnitz's role at the time of National Socialism. A biography of Elizabeth II by John Parker states that by the end of the Second World War, the Berlin Documents Centre had held a dossier on Reibnitz said to be four inches thick. Writer Barry Everingham stated that "historians at the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem claimed that the baron was planted in the SS to act as Goering's spy". However, Everingham's source for this has been questioned.
- Bundesarchiv Berlin (ehem. Berlin Document Center) NSDAP-Gaukartei
- SS-Stammkarte des „NS-Archivs“ des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit der DDR (MfS), ZB5983, S.155, Günther Freiherr von Reibnitz
- The Sunday Telegraph dated 28 April 1985
- Leo van de Pas, Freiherr Guenther-Hubertus von Reibnitz at worldroots.com, citing Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels
- L'Intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux, vol. 29, (1979) p. 845
- Bundesarchiv Berlin, Oberstes Parteigericht, I. Kammer
- Bundesarchiv Berlin, file Rasse- und Siedlungsamt
- finding of the Appeals Tribunal for Upper Bavaria, Senat Moosburg-Dachau, Ber.Reg. Nr. 859/48, Aktenzeichen I. Instanz: 9464
- The Times dated 24 April 1985 “Baron nominal party member, tribunal said, complete english translation of the finding
- The Times 25 April 1985
- Ronald Allison, Sarah Riddell, “The Royal Encyclopedia” (1991), p. 297
- ”L'Intermediáire des chercheur et curieux!, vol. 29 (1979) p. 601: “Maisons souveraines GRANDE-BRETAGNE: Naissance à Londres le .05.1979 de Lord Frederick Windsor, fils du prince Michel et de la baronne Marie-Christine Reibnitz.”
- John Parker, The Queen: The New Biography (Ulverscroft, 1993), p. 483
- Barry Everingham, Wiesenthal's Nazi Tracking In Australia from The Australian dated 9-22-05
- Barry Everingham, MC: the adventures of a maverick princess (1985) p. 22
- Simon-Wiesenthal-Institut Vienna, file Gunther von Reibnitz
- Yad Vashem, ref.no. 262278 date 8 October 2013