Kammhuber, Josef, born on 19-08-1896 in Tüßling, Bavaria, the son of a farmer. When World War I started he was 18 and joined a Bavarian Engineer Battalion. He experienced the battle of Verdun in 1916, and was promoted to second leutnant in 1917.
He was allowed to remain in German’s new Reichswehr. Kammhuber had continued to rise in the ranks, promoted to Major, Oberleutnant and then Oberst in 1938. After it became clear that the Royal Air Force
was starting a massive aircraft building program, Adolf Hitler with Hermann Goering
(did you know
) decided to match their expansion and proposed a program worth about 60 billion Reichsmarks. The German aircraft industry was incapable of matching this sort of request, due to both construction and material shortages, and the leadership within the Luftwaffe realized it was impossible. The Chiefs of Staff, Generaloberst der Flieger, Hans Jeschonnek
Kammhuber and Generaloberst der Infanterie, Hans Jurgen Stumpff
then put forth Kammhuber’s own plan for about 20 billion RM, production levels which they felt they could meet. Kammhuber, realizing what was going on, put in a request in February 1939 for active duty. Promoted to Generalmajor, he was assigned as Chief-of-Staff of Airfleet 2, and was in this position at the start of the war in September. On 11-01-1940, he was cashiered by Adolf Hitler
(did you know
) personally because of the Mechelen Incident.
These officers, Major Erich Hoenmanns and Major Helmut Reinberger, crashed with the German invasion plans, in Belgium which gave a lot agitation.
A monument with explanation is placed on the exat spot of the crash. Kammhuber was transferred to the Western Front where he became Geschwaderkommodore of a Kampfgeschwader 51
, a tactical bomber unit. During the French campaign he was shot down and captured and interned in a French POW camp at the age of 44. He was released at the end of the Battle of France in July 1940, and returned to Germany. Once again an officer of the Luftwaffe’s Generalstab, in July 1940 he was placed in command of coordinating flak, searchlight and radar units. At the time they were all under separate command and had no single reporting chain, so much of the experience of the different units was not being shared.
Kammhuber here with aircraft designer Professor Ernst Heinkel
The result was the XII Fliegerkorps, a new dedicated night-fighting command. At this time, Kammhuber was promoted to Lieutenant General. He organized the night fighting units into a chain known to the British as the Kammhuber Line, in which a series of radar stations with overlapping coverage were layer three deep from Denmark to the middle of France. British intelligence soon discovered the nature of the Kammhuber Line and started studying ways to defeat it. At the time RAF Bomber Command
sent in their planes one at a time in order to force the defenses to be spread as far apart as possible, meaning that any one aircraft would have to deal with little concentrated flak. At the same time Kammhuber continued to press for a new dedicated night fighter design, eventually selecting the Heinkel He 219 Uhu after seeing it demonstrated in 1942. Thus in 1943 Kammhuber was transferred to Luftflotte 5
in Norway, in command of a handful of outdated planes. In 1945 he was re-appointed to command of the night fighters, at this point a largely ceremonial position considering the state of the Third Reich at that time. After the fall of the Reich in May 1945, Kammhuber, here with top ace Bubi Hartmann
was held by the United States, but he was released in April 1948 without charges being brought against him.
He later spent time in Argentina, helping to train the air force under Juan Domingo Perón.
Josef Kammhuber returned to Germany and joined the German Air Force while it was being formed.
He was promoted to Inspekteur der Luftwaffe, serving in that role between 1956 and 1962. After the 1961 F-84 Thunderstreak incident, when two West German Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks strayed into East German airspace and flew to West Berlin, Kammhuber and his superior, the West German Minister of Defence, Franz Josef Strauss, removed Oberstleutnant Siegfried Barth
, commander of the pilots’ unit, from his command. Barth was a the former bomber pilot in the German Luftwaffe during World War II and commander of the fighter-bomber wing Jagdbombergeschwader 32
, JaBoG 32, of the German Air Force. After protests, three official investigations and a formal complaint by Barth against Strauß, the latter had to be reinstated in his position. Strauß however ignored this decision until Hellmuth Heye,
a former German Admiral in World War II and Ombudsman for the Military, forced him to accept it. Siegfried Barth died old age 81 on 19-12-1997 in Bad Wörishofen.
Death and burial ground of Kammhuber, Josef.