Gabriele von Lutzau

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Gabriele von Lutzau, 2010

Gabriele von Lutzau, née Dillmann (born August 15, 1954, Wolfsburg, Federal Republic of Germany) is a German heroine and sculptor. She is remembered as the "Angel of Mogadishu"[1] for her heroic role in a notorious hijacking, and is also noted for her abstract beechwood sculptures. She is by marriage a member of the Russian-German Lutzau family that was ennobled in Imperial Russia.

Mogadishu hijacking[edit]

Gabriele Dillmann worked as a flight attendant for Lufthansa. In 1977 she was serving on Lufthansa Flight 181 when it was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. During the ensuing protracted captivity, she was a pillar of support and hope for the other hostages, and was lionized by the German press. She was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her role in the affair. She later married her fiance, Lufthansa pilot Rüdiger von Lutzau, who piloted the plane carrying the commandos of the rescue force.

Two films of the hijacking were made: The Dead Pool (1997), in which Dillmann (as she was then) is played by Susanne Schäfer,[2] and Mogadishu (2008), in which Nadja Uhl plays her.[3]

Peter H. Jamin has made a short film Der Engel von Mogadischu (The Angel of Mogadishu) about Lutzau, covering both her role in the hijacking and her later life as an artist.[4]

Artistic career[edit]

From 1984 to 1995, Lutzau studied art under Walther Piesch at the art school of the University of Strasbourg.

Her works are mainly "guardian figures" carved in wood, most made out of beechwood but some also from black locust. Among her sculpting tools are the chainsaw and the flamethrower.[5] She describes her work as "sentinels, wings, and life signs" crafted from "discarded wood - unwanted, sometimes grown under hard conditions - gnarled and twisted and finally felled."[6] Although her original work is always in wood, she often has her sculptures cast into bronze or steel. For her "guardians" and "life signs", she also uses thuja trees, often called the "tree of life", as they are often planted on graves.

Lutzau has exhibited at the ALP Galleries in New York City (a gallery dedicated to German artists),[7] in Shanghai (Shanghai Spring Art Salon 2003), and at many galleries and shows in Germany.[5][6]

Since September 11, 2001, Lutzau has colored her guardian figures black (they had previously been blue).[8]

Lutzau is a member of the German Federal Association of Visual Artists (BBK). In 1997 she was awarded the Aisch Art Prize of the Art Association of Höchstadt, and was a jury member for the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning in Berlin in 2002 and for the BBK in Frankfurt in 2003.[5] She now lives and works in Michelstadt in the Odenwald.


  1. ^ Ruth Ciesinger (October 13, 2002). "Fünf Tage in der Hölle". Der Tagesspiegel. Retrieved September 11, 2010.  (German)
  2. ^ Todesspiel at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Mogadischu at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ "Der Engel von Mogadischu". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2010.  (German)
  5. ^ a b c "Gabriele von Lutzau". Gabriele von Lutzau website. Retrieved September 3, 2010.  (German)
  6. ^ a b "Gabriele von Lutzau". Saatchi Online. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Gabriele von Lutzau". One Art World. Retrieved September 11, 2010. [permanent dead link] (German)
  8. ^ Inge Müller (April 27, 2006). "art spaces II (exhibition catalog)" (PDF). LEO (Lünser Experience Organization).  (German)

External links[edit]