I was born on 30 August 1904, in the old German trading city of Breslau, situated in the heart of our beautiful province of Silesia.
Winston Churchill has related how he attended the German military maneuvers of 1908, and was presented to His Imperial Majesty the Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser greeted him with the remark: "A fair country this Silesia, well worth fighting for." Today Silesia belongs to Poland, and some of the greatest names in German history and tradition —Leuthen, Liegnitz, Katzbach—have been obliterated from the. map of Europe. The fate of Silesia is shared by Pomerania, whence my father's family originally came and where the Mellenthins were established in 1225.
My father, Paul Henning von Mellenthin, was a lieutenant colonel of artillery, and was killed in action on the Western Front on 29 June 1918. I was his third son. The family of my mother Orlinda, nee von Waldenburg, derived from Silesia and Brandenburg; her great-grandfather was Prince August of Prussia, a nephew of Frederick the Great. My mother was my guiding star in times of peace and war, and after my father's early death she shouldered the entire burden of bringing up and educating her three sons. She passed away in August, 1950, a few weeks before I left for South Africa.