Fifty+, Portraits


[By Irma Heuven]

Dorothea von Ritter-Röhr also Dorothea Freifrau von Ritter zu Groenesteyn-Röh was born 1942 in Erfurt, Germany. She is a German sociologist and psychoanalyst. Her father died three months before she was born in World War II. At that time her mother ran a gynecological clinic in Erfurt. After too much political pressure, mother and daughter fled to West Germany in 1959. A very traumatic experience for both of them. After graduating from high school, Dorothea von Ritter-Röhr began studying sociology and psychology at the University of Frankfurt.

Dr. Doro Von Ritter-Röhr has had his own practice since 1981, in Giessen, Germany. She was one of the pioneers in the field of quality management in the health system, with a particular interest in the context of medical sociology. She was also a lecturer at the Horst Eberhard Richter Institute in Giessen.

In addition to her professional activity, she appeared on radio and television. She was a guest as a psychoanalyst on the WDR broadcast by Carmen Thomas Hallo OB Van . In 1975/76 she had her own program on Hessian television with the title “How would you have done it”. Conflicting family situations were presented through role-playing in order to develop solutions.


During her whole life, sports has been very important to her. In her youth, she loved to do horseback riding, swimming, and skiing, which she still loves to this day. Besides that also running, yoga, surfing, tennis, and playing golf. She is very thankful for the fact that she is still mobile and active at her age. But even more important in her life is her family.

She is super passionate about aviation and flying her own Red plane. In her forties she finally let her childhood dream come true and obtained a pilot’s license! Dorothea von Ritter-Röhr, known in aviation circles as the “Red Baroness”, is one of Germany’s oldest female pilots at the age of 79. The baroness has had an eventful past, but she did not get her pilot’s license until she was 46. To this day she is flying in her own red plane and she absolutely loves it.




Apart from that, she is politically active. She founded the “OMAS-GEGEN-RECHTS-GIESSEN” (“grannies against the right-wing”). Because of the fact that she had to flee with her mother from the German Democratic Republic to the Bundesrepublik Germany, she has a much more inside view about the current refugee situation and the way they are treated.

She feels very connected to the LGBTQ+ community and feminism. Doro is taking every chance to stand for woman’s rights. Feminism is uncomfortable feminism is exhausting. Only admitting to it causes stigmatization. Article 3 of the Grundgesetz (constitution) states, says: “no one should be disadvantaged because of their gender”. But in reality, she thinks that we are far away from equality. Much has been achieved already, but there’s still a lot of work to do. It is not only a question of human rights but also the fact that women subconsciously fulfill expectations that they don’t even feel. Antifeminism is not only a political view but a structural Problem concerning women. This phenomenon of discrimination is connected to patriarchal power structures. There should be solitary communication between genders which ensures a society without capitalism and patriarchy, according to Doro.

Doro is the perfect example of “it’s never too late to do the things you’re passionate about”. At the age of almost 80, she started as an female activist because of the fact that age should never be a limit, and that is the philosophy she is trying to convey!

How do you feel about being fifty plus?

First of all, I’m even 70+, but I still feel highly energetic and feel like I could lift the world out of its angles! Of course, that changes occasionally and sometimes I struggle with my age because I don’t have as much energy as I used to have when I was around 30…

At which age did you enjoy life the most? Would you like to go back?

I especially liked the age between 40 and 50. At that time my kids were still small. We used to spend beautiful holidays together. I remember while I was studying to achieve my pilot’s license, my kids were learning the aviation alphabet with me: alpha, bravo, charlie… However, I never want to go back to any age. I think that every age has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, some things I don’t want to experience for a second time but going back in time is something that I don’t want to do. Everybody is forging their own happiness!

From which experience did you learn, what made you stronger?

I think everyone needs to make their own experiences as long as you can learn from them. Emotional growth comes from making experiences.

What changes have you experienced after your 50th?

I noticed, unfortunately, that my efficiency is decreasing; and my ability to multitask is not as good as it used to be. But I think one has enough time to get used to that. At my age, my values are shifting. That means that I am paying more attention to myself than I used to do, and I am a lot more aware of my own personal limits. But of course, I still have challenges and goals. A good example is that I am still participating in marathons. I’m less concerned about my career. Of course, it has been a very productive time, but also quite difficult regarding feminist expectations.

Friends and Family are still very important to me and of course my patients!


What made you stronger in life?

I receive my strength from nature. Besides that, I am trying to be physically active, by doing all kinds of sports! Life is a learning process.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is ‘She, who doesn’t dream of flying, doesn’t grow wings!’


Now, this may all sound very pinkish, but my favorite color is red! My life was all about “falling; getting back up; fixing my crown; carry on”! Setbacks are unavoidable, and one shouldn’t be too influenced by them.

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Thank you so much for sharing your story with other inspirational women! 

Any questions? Please do not hesitate to contact me.

A way to say goodbye in the name of Irma

Irma Heuven

+31 6 835 50 567


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