From 1924 to 1927, Greim was an adviser and instructor to the Chinese Nationalist air force. On his return to Germany, he became director of the Bavarian gliding federation. Greim joined the German air force in 1934 as a major, directing the Richthofen Squadron until March 1935. Then appointed inspector general of fighters and dive-bombers, Greim headed the Personnel Section of the Air Ministry in 1937.
In 1939, Greim became commander of Flieger Korps V, which he led as a Generalleutant (U.S. equiv. major general) in the invasions of Poland and France and the Battle of Britain. Greim's unit was then sent to the Eastern Front. From February 1943 to April 1945 as a Generaloberst (U.S. equiv. full general), Greim commanded Luftflotte (air fleet) 6 on the Eastern Front.
On 24 April 1945, Adolf Hitler summoned Greim to the besieged city of Berlin. Greim flew into the city with test pilot Hanna Reitsch two days later. Their plane was hit by antiaircraft fire and Greim was badly wounded in the right foot, although Reitsch landed the plane safely. Hitler then met with Greim, promoting him to field marshal (the last so appointed) and head of the Luftwaffe, replacing the dismissed Hermann Göring. Hitler then ordered Greim and Reitsch to leave Berlin, despite their desire to remain with the Führer. On 28 April the two flew out of the city in a training plane.
Following capture by the Americans, Greim, a rabid Nazi who feared he would be handed over to the Soviets for trial, committed suicide on 24 May 1945 at Salzburg, Austria.
Spencer E. Robbins III
Hayward, Joel S. A. Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East, 1942–1943. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.; Irving, David. The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe. Boston: Little, Brown, 1973.; Mitcham, Samuel W., Jr. Men of the Luftwaffe. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1988.