Kämpfe, Helmut, born 31-07-1909 in Jena, was a Typographer by training, as was his father and a Printing Works owner just before entering the Reichsheer, New German Army set up after the Nazis came to power in 1933, on 16-12-1934. He entered the SS
on 09-11-1939, anniversary of the Beer-Hall Putch
and became an SS Untersturmführer
on 01-03-1940, an Obersturmführer on 30-01-1941, anniversary of the “Machergreifung” the day Hitler (Did You know
) became Chancellor in 1933
. Further promotions followed on 20th
April 1942, Hitler’s birthday to SS Hauptsturmführer
and finally on 01-09-1943, to SS Sturmbannführer
. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II. He was also one of only 631 men to be awarded the very rare Close Combat Clasp in Gold.
Death and burial ground of Kämpfe, Helmut.
Helmut Kämpfe, the commander of the III. Battalion, 4th
SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Der Führer, 2nd
SS Panzer Division “Das Reich”
, under SS Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding, was captured by the French Resistance on 09-06-1944 by a group headed by Jean Canou. Canou then placed him in the custody of Georges Guingouin. Guingouin died old age 91, on 27-10-2005.
The following day Kämpfe was executed on the orders of Guingouin and his body was burned. When it was clear that Kämpfe had been kidnapped, the Germans sent out forces to try to locate him. Among these was a unit under the command of SS Sturmbannführer, Adolf Diekmann
SS Panzer Division with the motto “”My Honour is Loyalty”. Its Panzer Regiment (2nd
SS Panzer) collected 20 Knight’s Crosses and 17 German Crosses in Gold
during 111 weeks of combat, destroying 1.730 tanks and assault guns, for the loss of 500 panzers On June 10, Diekmann was given information regarding Kämpfe by two members of the Milice, the French secret police that collaborated with the German Gestapo
. Allegedly, French resistance fighters in Oradour-sur-Vayres were planning to execute Kämpfe by ceremoniously burning him alive that day. Kämpfe was the highest ranking officer ever to be captured by the resistance. His execution was to be a big event. That same day, Diekmann’s battalion went mistakenly to nearby Oradour-sur-Glane and massacred most of its inhabitants. They killed a total of 642 men, women and children and destroyed the entire village without any reason for their action to the inhabitants and to this day there is no universally accepted explanation for the massacre.
The massacre was, according to Diekmann’s superior, Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding, an act outside of his order and would therefore have subjected Diekmann to a court martial if he had survived the following battles in Normandy. Sturmbannführer Otto Erich Kahn was, one of the SS officers who carried out the massacre in Oradour
Kahn lived undisturbed in Ottmarsbocholt till his death, age 69, in 1977. The 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich” was honored with 69 Knight Crosses, 151 German Crosses in Gold and 29 Honor Roll Clasp recipients. It also boasted three Swords and 10 Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross holders. Cumulatively, more high award-winners served in its ranks than any other division in the Waffen–SS. A two volume history encompassing in detail the Division’s German Cross in Gold, Roll of Honor Clasp, and Close Combat Clasp in Gold holders has been published. Its Panzer Regiment collected 20 Knight’s Crosses and 17 German Cross in Gold during 111 weeks of combat, destroying 1.730 tanks and assault guns, for the loss of 500 panzers. The unit destroyed more than 3.000 enemy tanks in the course of its combat history, more than any other German field division. The official five volume text history of the Division was written by former Regiment “Der Führer” commander of Otto Kahn, SS Obersturmbannführer, Otto Weidinger
as well as a history of his own Regiment for which he was the last wartime commander. n 1953. After the war Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding was captured by the British and tried for war crimes for the massacre of Tulle and Oradour sur Glane and sentenced to death in absentia by the court of Bordeaux, but he wasn’t extradited by West Germany. He resumed his career as a civil engineer in Düsseldorf until his retirement and died of cancer at the age of sixty-six on 13-01-1971. Obersturmführer Heinz Barth “the butcher of Oradour”