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Helmut Kämpfe
Born (1909-07-31)31 July 1909
Died 10 June 1944(1944-06-10) (aged 34)
Place of birth Jena, Germany
Place of death France
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Years of service 1939–1944
Rank Sturmbannführer
Unit 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich
Battles/wars World War II

Helmut Kämpfe (1909-1944) was a Sturmbannführer (Major), in the Waffen SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II. He was also one of only 631 men to be awarded the rare Close Combat Clasp in Gold.[1]

Kämpfe, the commander of the III. Battalion, 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Der Führer, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, was captured by the French Resistance on 9 June 1944 by a group headed by Jean Canou. Canou then placed him in the custody of Georges Guingouin.[citation needed] The following day Kämpfe was executed on the orders of Guingouin of killed during his attempt to escape.[2]

When it was clear that Kämpfe had been kidnapped, the Germans sent out forces to try to locate him. Among these was a unit under the command of Adolf Diekmann, I. Battalion, 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment. On 10 June 1944, Diekmann was given information regarding Kämpfe by two members of the Milice, French Vichy-controlled paramilitaries which collaborated with the Germans[citation needed] . Kämpfe was the highest-ranking officer ever to be captured by the Resistance.[citation needed] . His execution was to be a big event.[citation needed]. That same day, Diekmann's battalion went mistakenly to nearby Oradour-sur-Glane and massacred most of its inhabitants.

The massacre was, according to Diekmann's superior, Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding, an act outside of his order and would therefore have subjected Diekmann to a court martial if he had survived the following battles in Normandy.[citation needed]


  1. Berger 2004, p. 6.
  2. Guy Penaud, La Das Reich, p.264


  • Kurowski Franz, Infantry Aces, Stackpole Books, 2005, ISBN 0-8117-3202-9
  • Florian Berger (2004), Ritterkreuzträger mit Nahkampfspange in Gold, ISBN 3-9501307-3-X
  • Mattson, Gregory SS-The realm. The History of the Second SS division, 1939-45. Staplehurst 2002, ISBN 1-86227-144-5
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Mitcham, Jr.Samuel, Retreat to the Reich, Stackpole books 2007. ISBN 0-8117-3384-X

External links