On the German side, a great deal of the professional staff work which sustained the Luftwaffe with its thousands of aircraft and aircrew was done by a large staff at the Air Ministry, housed in a huge building in Berlin on the Unter den Linden. The key personality here was Erhard Milch. He was second only in rank to Goering. Milch was an extremely able but very ambitious man. During the Twenties, he had been in civilian aviation, as director of Lufthansa, biding his time until Germany could form its new air force which it did in 1935, in contravention with the Versailles Treaty.
Milch did a great deal of the work that reduced the massive tactical air force which went to war so successfully in Poland and then in France.
It was Milch whose idea it was to attack Britain early in June before it had had time to recover from the loss by the expeditionary force of all its arms which had been left on the beaches of Dunkirk. Milch had his plan turned down by Goering who had thought, at the time, the plan was superfluous. Milch, who might be said to have been the brains of the Lufwaffe, went on throughout the war at the Air Ministry, working on his plan to usurp Goering’s position at the head of the Luftwaffe. He was one of those who, in 1944, pleaded with Hitler to remove Goering from the command of the Luftwaffe. In the event, this attempt to get rid of Goering came to nothing. Hitler remained loyal to his old colleague and to their Nazi past.