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.
Kämpfe commanded the 3rd battalion of the SS-Panzergrenadierregiments 4 “Der Führer” on the eastern front.In the spring of 1944, the Das Reich division was withdrawn from the Russian front, and transferred to southern France to re-equip and prepare for the possible coming Allied invasion of Normandy. In order to fight the Allies landing troops, the division had to bridge a 700 km road to the north. On 08-06-1944 parts of the division reached the town of Tulle, in the days before the French resistance had killed dozens of German soldiers. In retaliation, 99 French were hanged on 09-06-1944. Because of these acts of sabotage, Kämpfe was ordered to start operations against the Maquis, which, according to German intelligence, was active in the southern highlands of central France.
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.