Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Kammhuber, Josef (1896–1986)

German air force general and architect of the German night defenses against Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command. Born at Burgkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Germany, on 19 August 1896, Josef Kammhuber enlisted as a private in the army at the beginning of World War I and fought in the Battle of Verdun. Ending the war as a second lieutenant, he continued in the Reichswehr thereafter. Between 1926 and 1929, he studied at the General Staff College. Although he had qualified as a pilot in 1919, Kammhuber continued in the engineers until he took command of the secret Luftwaffe training facility in the Soviet Union at Lipetsk in 1930.

Kammhuber joined the Luftwaffe in 1933 and then held a variety of staff and command positions, including chief of staff of Luftflotte 2 (Second Air Fleet). During the 1940 Battle for France, he commanded 51st Kampfgeschwader (51st Bomber Wing) and was shot done and taken prisoner. Following his release after the defeat of France, Kammhuber was ordered to organize the primitive German night defenses. He developed them into a highly efficient system that came to be known as the "Kammhuber Line," an interlocking system of radar, aircraft, and ground controllers stretching from the North Sea to southern France. With advances in radar technology, the line was effective, but it was a defense in width rather than depth. RAF Bomber Command eventually exploited this weakness by blinding the German radars with strips of foil called "window" (known as "chaff" by the Americans). Following several devastating British raids, Kammhuber was relieved as general of night fighters in autumn 1943 and posted to Norway.

Following the war, Kammhuber passed on his night-fighting experiences to the U.S. Air Force. In 1956, he was named the inspector of the air force of the new Federal Republic of Germany, a post he held until his retirement as a full general in 1962. Kammhuber died in Munich, Germany, on 25 January 1986.

M. R. Pierce


Further Reading
Bekker, Cajus. The Luftwaffe War Diaries. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.; Faber, Harold. Luftwaffe: A History. New York: New York Times Books, 1977.; Mitcham, Samuel W. Eagles of the Third Reich: The Men Who Made the Luftwaffe. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1997.
 

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