In addition to his other duties, the Chief of the German Air Force is responsible for the defense of territorial Germany and of important installations and cities of the occupied countries. An inspector for each separate arm of the Luftwaffe (similar to our former chiefs of branches) functions directly under the Chief of the Air Force and is responsible directly to the Chief for the state of training and efficiency of the separate elements comprising the rear-area defenses.
b. Defense Districts
For the purpose of home defense as well as for other needs, Germany and the important occupied territories are divided into air territorial areas known as Luftgaue. In 1939, 15 of these air territorial districts lay within the borders of Germany. In addition, there were two separate air territories established for areas especially open to hostile air attacks. These comprised the Air Defense Zone, West, which was almost identical with the area covered by the West Wall fortifications, and the Air Defense Zone, Sea, which covered in general the North Sea coastal and island area. Following the French Campaign, the first zone was eliminated. Other Luftgaue were organized within the occupied countries, however, to tie in with the general scheme of defense against air attacks.
The commander of a Luftgau is subordinate to the Chief of Air Forces alone. Even though his Luftgau may correspond in extent and nomenclature to a geographical army corps area, he is in no way subordinate to the army corps area commander. The Luftgau commander may have been originally an air officer or an AA artillery officer, or even an air signal officer. There is no rule on the matter other than that he must be an Air Force officer.
Luftgaue coordinate their defenses with each other, in accordance with regulations published by the Chief of the Air Force. The commander of the individual Luftgau has specialists who act respectively as commanders of the interception, pursuit, and other aviation; commanders of all AA artillery of the district, including searchlights; and commanders of the signal service employing warning and communication facilities. Other specialists, functioning directly under the district commander, include the commanders of barrage balloon units and of units responsible for carrying out so-called passive-defense measures. The operating units function under the specialist commanders both on direct orders from these commanders, and, when occasion demands, upon the initiative of the unit commander. In actual operations, in most cases the commands above the actual operating units act mainly in a coordinating capacity, feeding information to the operating units who act in turn on their own initiative in accordance with prescribed standing operating procedure.
Within certain of the air districts there are special air defense commands. These cover regions of vital importance whose defense must be insured with a maximum of defense facilities. In these defense commands, of which the cities of Berlin and Hamburg, and the Ruhr district, are typical examples, there are concentrated under a single command sufficient defense facilities of all kinds to prevent the attacking hostile air forces from carrying out their mission.
c. Component Arms
The AA guns are considered the backbone of the static defense, but the operation of the system calls for close cooperation with friendly aircraft, especially fighter planes. Searchlight units as a part of Flak proper play a very important part in the German scheme of air defense, and in certain areas barrage balloons are used quite extensively. The Aircraft Warning Service is a part of the Air Force, and as such has the mission of providing adequate warning of hostile aircraft. Certain passive measures form a very important part of the defense system as a whole; these measures must be considered a definite though intangible weapon, so closely tied in with the entire defense system that they must be considered in this discussion.