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Alfred Ritscher
Born (1879-05-23)May 23, 1879
Died March 30, 1963(1963-03-30) (aged 83)
Place of birth Bad Lauterberg
Place of death Hamburg
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
Rank Captain
Other work led the Third German Antarctic Expedition

Alfred Ritscher (23 May 1879 in Bad Lauterberg - 30 March 1963 in Hamburg) was a German polar explorer. A captain in the German Navy, he led the third German Antarctic Expedition in 1938-39, which mapped the New Swabia (German language: Neuschwabenland) area of Queen Maud Land. Ritscher Peak[1] and Ritscher Upland[2] there are named for him.


1897 Alfred Ritscher made his first trip as a cabin boy on the Bremen ship "Emily". In 1903 he passed his exams and helmsman earned his master's certificate in 1907. Beginning of 1912 was Ritscher a place in the newly created Seehandbuchwerk of the Navy Office.

In August 1912, Alfred Ritscher, skipper of the "German Arctic Expedition" of 1912-1913, under the baton of Herbert Schröder-Stranz departed from Tromsø from the motor vessel "Herzog Ernst" to a preliminary expedition for a planned navigation of the Northeast Passage. He also took over the leadership of the airborne survey of the expedition and obtained the patent for a pilot. In attempting the crossing of the Nordaustlandet island in northeastern Spitsbergen archipelago failed expedition of the Schröder-Stranz, because the equipment the team was bad, the weather changes were misjudged and they had started too late in the year. Ritscher was able to achieve in a single marching over 210 km in seven and a half days, the settlement of Longyearbyen. The search expeditions were sent to his message about the fate of the Schroeder-Stranz expedition down could save six of the 14 still missing expedition.

During the First World War, Marine Ritscher field reconnaissance flights were made in support of Marine units in Flanders. After the war he worked as an independent businessman and in 1925 worked as a specialist in aerial navigation with Lufthansa.

Alfred Ritscher made in 1934 by his Jewish wife Susan née Loewenthal divorce, not to endanger the War Department in the chosen career.

Ritscher in 1934 was executive officer in command of the Navy. In 1938 he became head of the German Antarctic Expedition Expedition 1938/39 set up a base with a mandate for the German whaling fleet and carry out the necessary air for exploration and possession. In this expedition was flown over an area of about 600,000 km2 with two flying boats of the type Dornier Do J II, which started from the steam catapult the expedition ship of Swabia. Series with cameras around 11,000 detailed aerial photographs were taken.

Alfred Ritscher was preparing another expedition with improved ease of airplanes on runners, which was due to the outbreak of the Second World War, but not performed. After the Second World War Ritscher had continued as chairman of the "Association for the promotion of the Archive for Polar Research Inc.," that the 1959 was renamed the German Society of Polar Research Association.


  • 1959: Grand Federal Cross of Merit
  • 1959: Silver Kirchenpauer Medal of the Geographical Society in Hamburg
  • The Ritschergipfel and the Ritscher Highlands in East Antarctica have been named after him.


  • Preliminary Report on the German Antarctic Expedition 1938/39. - Ann. Hydrog. and Marit. Meteorol. 67, August-booklet. Inside: Overview table of the work area of the German Antarctic Expedition 1938-39: Neuschwabenland: 1:1.500.000 - 1 May / June 1939.
  • German Antarctic Expedition 1938/39 with the base plane of Lufthansa AG M.S. "Swabia". - 1 Band, Scientific and flying experiences, Koehler & Amelang; Leipzig 1942nd
  • German Antarctic Expedition 1938/39 with the base plane of Lufthansa AG M.S. "Swabia". - 2 Band, Scientific Results. Geographical and Cartographic Institute "Mundus", Hamburg, 1954-58.

See also[]

  • New Swabia
  • List of Antarctic expeditions
  • List of polar explorers


  1. USGS Geographic Names Information System: USGS GNIS: Ritscher Peak
  2. USGS Geographic Names Information System: USGS GNIS: Ritscher Upland

External links[]

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