Born 3rd January 1933 in Munich, twenty-seven days before Hitler came to power. His father had been a flyer with the famous Richthofen squadron, during the First World War and shot down twenty-six enemy aircraft for which he was highly decorated. But he died before Rolf reached the age of four.
He joined the French Foreign Legion by signing on in the West German French zone obtaining the rank of Sergeant. He saw active service in Indo-China, but did not take part in the battle of Dien Bien Phu, his Battalion at that time was stationed in Hanoi.
He was a member of the foreign Legion that Parachuted into the Suez in 1956 during the French, British and Israel attempted seizure of the Canal from Egyptian control.
Later he went to Algeria with the Legion, fighting the unrest there. But he became involved in the anti-de Gaulle OAS terrorist movement. Becoming a member of the abortive Generals rebellion against the French President Charles de Gaulle that he supported. He had twice been demoted from the rank of Sergeant in Indo-China for unruly behaviour but was never the less, a first-class soldier.
In 1959 he was found to be suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis. Having to have a quarter of one lung removed, but making a full recovery.
1961 not wanting to return to France in case of recriminations he went to the Congo and was a member of Robert Faulques 1st REP in Katanga, after a time he returned to France.
Later he became Tshombe's personal bodyguard after the latter’s exile to Spain. But lucky for him he was not on board the light aircraft with Tshombe, when it was hijacked to Algeria, where Tshombe was imprisoned.
Steiner later fought in Biafra again under Robert Faulques. In 1968 leading a group of mercenaries and making a name for him self. He was made up to the rank of Major and later to Lt. Colonel, in charge of planning and in rank was above Taffy Williams who was the field Commander. (After 10 months he was suffering the symptoms of a nervous breakdown). Thinking that all his close friends were against him. His fall from grace came when he was ordered to present himself at the State House in Umuahia to answer questions on why he had commandeered three Swedish Red Cross Land Rovers. He arrived drunk and belligerent. Refusing to hand over his weapon at the gate, he demanded a beer but rejected it when a glass was offered saying it was too warm. Cursing and swearing he got into an argument with General Ojuku’s body guards, assaulting one and sparking off a free for all brawl. Hearing the noise Ojukwu came rushing out and personally saved Steiner from being shot. Far from being grateful, Steiner turned round and directed his insults against his saviour. Together with five other Mercenaries he was arrested and bundled out of the country the following night. General Ojukwu the Biafrian Leader was forced to expel him. After his ignominious hand cuffed expulsion from Biafra to Gabon. He next turned up in the Sudan in November 1969 (for 11months). Becoming a Field Commander of the Conventional Army of the Anya-Nya. But he was wounded and evacuated to Kampala. However, his political views change very rapid in Africa, where he was arrested and put on trial for being a Mercenary and fighting in the Sudan waging war against the Sudanese people.
On the 20th September he was given the death sentence later commuted to 20 years in prison, eventually after 3years in prison he was quietly released, after pressure from the German Government threatening to withdraw Aid to the Sudan. Steiner retired to West Germany where he wrote a book. “The Last Adventurer”. Well worth a read.
Terry Aspinall 1990