Robert Ritter von Greim (born Robert Greim; 22 June 1892 – 24 May 1945) was a Luftwaffe general.
Born in Bayreuth, son of a Bavarian police captain, Greim was an army cadet before World War I and initially served in the artillery before transferring to the German Air Service (Fliegertruppe) in 1915. He was awarded with nobility and the title of Ritter (Knight) for his services in the Bavarian army during World War I and was allowed to use the title "Ritter von" (Knight of) as official part of his name.
After the war, Ritter von Greim was unsuccessful in finding a place in the Reichswehr, the 100,000-man army that the Versailles Treaty permitted Germany. As a result, he focused on a career in law, and succeeded in passing Germany's rigorous law exams. However, he was asked by Chiang Kai-Shek's government to come to Canton, China to help build a Chinese air force. Ritter von Greim went with his family to China where he founded a flying school and initiated measures for the development of an air force.
In 1933, Ritter von Greim was asked by Hermann Göring to help rebuild the German Air Force and in 1934 was appointed to the command of the first fighter pilot school, following the closure of the secret flying school established near the city of Lipetsk in the Soviet Union during the closing days of the Weimar Republic.
When the war began, Ritter von Greim was given command of a Luftflotte (Air Wing) and was involved in the invasion of Poland, the Battle for Norway, the Battle of Britain and Operation Barbarossa.
On 26 April 1945, he and aviatrix Hanna Reitsch flew into the besieged Berlin on Adolf Hitler's orders. Greim was wounded when their plane was hit by Soviet fire. Hitler announced that since Hermann Göring committed treason — by illegally declaring that he would consider himself head-of-state when Berlin becomes isolated from the rest of Germany — Greim is now the new commander of the Luftwaffe. Hitler ordered both him and Reitsch to leave the city and ensure that Heinrich Himmler would be executed for his attempt to negotiate with the Allies (in the film, the news of Himmler's dealings reach Hitler as he's dining with Greim and Reitsch, and he demands to bring him Hermann Fegelein, Himmler's adjutant).
On 8 May, the same day as the surrender of the Third Reich, Ritter von Greim was captured by American soldiers in Austria. Ritter von Greim was slated to be part of a Soviet-American prisoner exchange program and, fearing torture and execution at the hands of Joseph Stalin's NKVD, committed suicide in Salzburg, Austria, on 24 May. His final words before taking cyanide were: "I am the head of the Luftwaffe, but I have no Luftwaffe."
In the Downfall universe
Von Greim is regarded by some as a dumb character in the same league as Günsche. He is seen in the Hitler Eating Scene where he eats on the table listening Hitler's fairy tales. He is sometimes seen stop chewing, which would indicate he shows some interest (this happens only in the theatrical version). He also appears in other scenes, such as the Hitler meets Greim and Reitsch.
He rarely ever speaks in both scenes.
In the Extended version of the film, the scene where Hitler comes to see him and Reitsch are extended. Hitler shows them the telegram received from Göring and names him the Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe and promotes him to General Field Marshal.