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Alfred Keller

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Alfred Keller

Alfred Keller
Keller as NSFK Korpsführer
Nickname(s) known as "der eiserne Keller" (the Iron Keller)
Born (1882-09-19)19 September 1882
Bochum
Died 11 February 1974(1974-02-11) (aged 91)
Berlin
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1902–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held Luftflotte 1
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
House Order of Hohenzollern
Pour le Mérite
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Alfred Keller (19 September 1882 – 11 February 1974) was a general in the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Born in Bochum, Province of Westphalia, his career in the Imperial German Armed Forces began in 1897, when he became a cadet in a military school, he retired after the Second World War as one of the most decorated Generals of the former Luftwaffe.

Early service life

Keller observes a parade at the Ladoga lake.

After his graduation, in 1902, Keller served in the 17º Battalion Infantry in Thorn as Fähnrich. While serving in Thorn, Keller became attracted to heavier-than-air aircraft, and made his first flight in the school at Metz, becoming an observer in 1912. In the following year, Keller concluded his training as a pilot in the school of Niederneuendorf, gaining his pilot’s wings.

Service during the First World War

When the First World War begun in August 1914, Hauptmann Alfred Keller was serving in a Western Front bomber unit Kagohl 5, Kampfstaffel (Kasta) 27, with which he would fly his first combat missions.

Keller participated in the first air reconnaissance mission of Paris in October 1914, which served to obtain evidence in the absence of anti-aircraft defences in the French capital. This factor was decisive for Keller and the unit’s pilots to initiate attacks on the French cities, one of which, against Paris, gaining for him the Cross of Iron 2nd Class. On the Verdun and Somme fronts Keller performed some missions of reconnaissance and offensive patrolling, which led to him in September 1915 being nominated Kommandeur of Kagohl 7, Kampfstaffel (Kasta) 40, a unit that he would help to consolidate in the following months. On 1 September 1917, after some attacks of its airplanes against the enemy lines, Keller s decorated with Cross of Iron 1st Class, also in recognition for his performance as an organiser.

Assuming the command of Bombengeschwader der Obersten Heeresleitung (Bogohl; Bomben Geschwader der OHL - Bomber wing of the OHL) BG 1 (new designation for bomber squadrons) from April 1917 until the end of the war, Keller’s unit become the first German bombers to operate night missions, which was noted for the missions against House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords, and on the on 4 December 1917, with the even more desirable Order Pour le Mérite.

On the night of 30–31 January 1918 Keller, in spite of the fierce anti-aircraft opposition, again attacked Paris, causing a great panic in the civilian population, the pilots of Bogohl 1 returned safely though. These multiple attacks by Keller on Paris would compel the French to remove some anti-aircraft batteries from the front and use them in the defence of the city.

Promotions:

  • Fähnrich: 22 November 1902
  • Leutnant: 18 August 1903 (Patent 19 August 1902)
  • Oberleutnant: 18 August 1911
  • Hauptmann: 8 November 1914
  • Charakter als Major: 16 January 1920

Assignments:

  • 5 April 1902 – 19 February 1912: Fahnenjunker and company officer in Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 17, Thorn.
  • 1912 – 1914: I. Transferred to the Engineer Inspectorate and admitted to Fortifications in Wilhelmshaven.
  • 1912 – 1913: At the same time, underwent aerial observer training.
  • 1913 – 1 August 1914: Pilot training and pilot at Flying Station Darmstadt.
  • 2 August 1914 – 1915: Commander of Feldflieger-Abteilung [Field Aviation Detachment] 27.
  • 1915 – 1916: Commander of Armeeflugpark [Army Air Park] 5.
  • 1916: Commander of Armeeflugpark 1.
  • 1916 – 31 March 1917: Commander of Feldflieger-Abteilung 40.
  • 1 April 1917 – 1 December 1918: Commander of Bombengeschwader [Bomber Wing] of the Army High Command
  • 1 December 1918 – 16 January 1920: On leave.

Interwar activity

The end of First World War found Keller in command of the Luftreederei, a Luftwaffe, Keller was commissioned with the rank of Oberst (Colonel), and assumed the command of the first bomber squadron, during the winter of 1936, KG 154Boelke” (He 111B-1). Soon after he was appointed commander of the Air Force command East Prussia.

Service during the Second World War

Keller arrives at Mensuvaara, Finland

In September 1939, when the Second World War begun, the then General Alfred Keller commanded the antitank weapons department of the Luftwaffe.

HE 111 that equipped the first unit Keller commanded within Luftwaffe

Promotions:

  • Oberst: 1 January 1934
  • Generalmajor: 1 April 1936
  • Generalleutnant: 1 February 1938
  • General der Flieger: 1 April 1939
  • Generaloberst: 19 July 1940

Life after service

With the German capitulation on 8 May 1945, Keller became a British prisoner, being kept as a POW until 1947. In the 1950s he become one of the first presidents of the Ordensgemeinschaft der Ritterkreuzträger (Association of Knight's Cross Recipients).

Keller died in Berlin.

Awards

Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
29 June 1942 Unter Führung des Generals der Kavallerie Lindemann haben Truppen des Heeres und der Waffen-SS, dabei auch spanische, niederländische und flämische Freiwilligenverbände, hervorragend unterstützt durch die Luftflotte des Generaloberst Keller, nach monatelangem erbitterten Kämpfen unter schwierigsten Wetter- und Geländeverhältnissen diese feindlichen Armeen zunächst von ihren rückwärtigen Verbindungen abgeriegelt, dann immer mehr zusammengedrängt und heute endgültig vernichtet.[2] Under the leadership of General of the Cavalry Lindemann, troops of the Army and Waffen-SS, including Spanish, Dutch and Flemish volunteer units, excellently supported by the Air Fleet of Colonel-General Keller, after months of bitter fighting under difficult weather and terrain conditions, these hostile armies, were first sealed off from their communication and supply lines, then crowded together more and more, and today finally destroyed.

References

Citations

  1. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 435.
  2. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 180.

Bibliography

Military offices
Preceded by
Generalmajor Hellmuth Bieneck
Commander of 4. Flieger-Division
1 February 1939 – 11 October 1939
Succeeded by
IV. Fliegerkorps
Preceded by
4. Flieger-Division
Commander of IV. Fliegerkorps
11 October 1939 – 19 August 1940
Succeeded by
General der Flieger Kurt Pflugbeil
Preceded by
General Wilhelm Wimmer
Commander of Luftflotte 1
20 August 1940 – 12 June 1943
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Günther Korten
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