Koller, Karl

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Koller, Karl, born 22-02-1898 in Glonn in Bavaria, as son of police officer Josef Koller. He attended primary school in Glonn. In the spring of 1914 he emigrated with his schoolmate Georg Lanzenberger to England. Lanzenberger was surprised by the First World War and the British interned him. Koller was able to cross the last ship to Germany at the end of July 1914. His family knew the aviation pioneer Albert Hirth

. Koller therefore volunteered with the Air Force in August 1914. First he received training at the Bavarian railway reserve battalion, where he became a train driver. 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 and who released him in December 1919..Karl Koller joined the police in February 1920, just like his father. He became a pilot at Schleißheim at police stag 1.As a hobby, he practiced gliding at the “Bayerischen Aero Club”. In 1921 he represented Bavaria at a competition in Rhön. He flew with a prototype of his neighbor Emeran Stadler, without height, direction rudder or stabilo only controllable with the bearing surfaces. On 15-08-1921 he flew 640 meters far, then a record. On August 20-08-1921, he set a new world record of 1900 meters with a three-minute flight. Five days later he made a full circle and then a 180 ° turn. He gained fame and traveled to England, France and Switzerland. He became friends with Ernst Udet. From 1922 to 1928 he worked for the police as a train driver and as an instructor. He became first leutnant with the police and worked until 1932 as adjutant with the commander of the Bavarian police in Munich. In January 1933 he became Hauptmann of the police.

He was fascinated by the newly established Luftwaffe and in August 1935 he took up the rank of captain. Although he had only attended primary school, he successfully attended the air war school in Berlin. In 1936 he became Hauptmann of a squadron in Jüterbog and Oldenburg. In August 1936 he became major.

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

 Bormann, Adolf Martin Jr. Kronzi "The Nazi crown prince" (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.

     A SS group under command of Obersturmbannführer Dr. Bernard Frank arrested Hermann Goering. . Goering was able to dissuade the SS men from their mission and travel with him to his castle at Mauterndorf.  Koller, who was free at Berchtesgaden convinced Goering to meet him at Castle Fischhorn at Zell am See,   where American forces took them into custody on May 7.

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. Koller also served as the chairman of the Verband Deutscher Soldaten in Bayern. He at the age of 53 died on 22-12-1951 in Glonn. Koller is buried on the local catholic cemetery of Glonn.P1020083-002 P1020085-001

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