Koller, Karl, born 22-02-1898 in Glonn in Bavaria. He joined the army in 1914 and, after infantry service, transferred to aviation. He passed pilot training in 1916 and flew in observation and fighter squadrons, being captured by the British in May 1918. Following release in 1919 he served in various police capacities, shifting to the Luftwaffe in 1935. An exemplary officer, in 1936 Koller graduated valedictorian at the Air War Academy. He was the Chief of Staff for Hugo Sperlle during the Blitz. For Operation Sea Lion
, the planned invasion of the United Kingdom by the Wehrmacht, Oberstleutnant Koller was to serve as the Operations Officer of Luftflotte 3 , in coordination with the German 9th Army under General Adolf Strauss. Koller became the Chef der Luftwaffenführungsstabes “Chief of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff” in October 1943, which essentially made him as assistant to the General Staff. Dissatisfied with Hermann Goering leadership of the Luftwaffe, Adolf Hitler wanted to replace him with Robert Ritter von Greim. Unable to convince Greim to accept the role, Hitler forced Goering to sack the Chef der Generalstabs der Luftwaffe, Generalleutnant Werner Kreipe who died age 63 on 07-09-1967 in Badeweiler, and provisionally replace him on 19-09-1944 with the stolid Koller, who was officially assigned the position on November 12. However, Koller was unable to reform the Luftwaffe , which had been mismanaged by Goering and had lost air superiority over the skies of Europe. Koller explained the problem the Luftwaffe had dealing with the other service branches:
In June 1944, in order to counter the many recent attacks on Luftwaffe policy, I took advantage of a small conference at the Obersalzberg to point out the weakness of Luftwaffe armament resources, and voiced my feeling that the Armed Forces High Command , which ought to have supported the Luftwaffe armament program in the interests of the Armed Forces and the nation as a whole, had limited itself to negative criticism. I stated frankly that our top military leaders had simply neglected their duty in this connection.
And with this I had stumbled into a wasps’ nest! They refused to consider my arguments and tried to persuade me that Goering would not have countenanced any participation by the Armed Forces High Command in the affairs of the Luftwaffe , that he would have termed it interference and forbidden it. There can be no doubt of the inaccuracy of this contention. To be sure, Goering was not a man to countenance interference, but he certainly would have welcomed constructive support and assistance from the Armed Forces High Command in improving the Luftwaffe’s armament situation.
Although Koller supported Goering against the Heer and the Kriegsmarine, he was one of Goering’s harshest critics, writing that “one had the feeling that he [Goering] had no interest in bringing about an atmosphere of smooth cooperation, that he was almost afraid that this would lead to the establishment of a phalanx against himself.
Karl Koller was wounded in the 20 July 1944 bombattack on Hitler by Oberst Claus Schenk von Staufenberg and in hospital and the Führer Reserve until 31-10-1944.
Koller was in Adolf Hitler’s Führerbunker in Berlin on 20-04-1945 to attend the dictator’s final 56th birthday. Although several high-ranking leaders abandoned the city that night, Koller remained behind to represent the Luftwaffe in nearby Werder (Havel) Goering did not acknowledge the Chief of Staff’s salute as he left. Koller was represented within the bunker by General Eckhard Christian . Christian died 03-01-1985 age 77 in Bad Kreuznach. Hitler ordered Koller to send his remaining planes and airmen to assist in Felix Steiner relief of Berlin, explaining, “Any commander who holds back his forces will forfeit his life in five hours. You yourself will guarantee with your head that the last man is thrown in”. With few troops remaining to him, Steiner was unable to come to the city’s defense, however.
After Alfred Jodl told Koller that Hitler had decided to commit suicide, the Luftwaffe General flew to Obersalzberg at 3:30 a.m. on April 23 to inform Goering in person. In the ensuing power struggle between the Nazi leaders as Hitler’s mental state declined, Martin Bormann (See Adolf Martin Bormann JR) sent SS troops to place Goering, Koller, Hans Lammers and his adjutant, the son of Feldmarschall Walter von Brauchitsch, Oberst Bernd von Brauchitsch under house arrest at Obersalzberg.
Death and burial ground of Koller, Karl.
Koller remained in British captivity until 1947, in Oxford where Charles Lindbergh came to visit him and released returned to Glonn where he at the age of 53 died on 22-12-1951. Koller is buried on the local catholic cemetery of Glonn.
Cemetery location of Koller, Karl.