Kirchheim entered the Imperial Army as an officer candidate on May 1st 1899. He became a Leutnant with the Infanterie-Regiment Prinz Friedrich der Niederlande (2. Westfälisches) Nr. 15 in Minden on October 18th 1900. In 1904 Kirchheim began an eight-year tour of duty with the Colonial troops in German Southwest Africa. He won the Order of the Crown 4th Class with Swords in action against the rebelling Hottentots and Herero units.
When war broke out in 1914 Kirchheim was serving with the Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 10 as a company commander. He went to command a battalion and on October 16th 1918 was decorated with the Pour le Mèrite.
Following the end of the war Kirchheim formed the "Hannoversche Freiwillige Jäger-Bataillon Kirchheim", which formed part of the Grenschutz Ost. Kirchheim was taken into the Reichswehr. He served in various staff positions and on February 1st 1930 became commandant of Glatz. Kirchheim was promoted to Oberst on April 1st 1931. On March 31st 1932, he left the Reichswehr.
Kirchheim rejoined the Wehrmacht on March 7th 1936 as Wehrbezirkskommandeur von Arnsberg, Köln und Wien. On July 1st 1940 he was promoted to Generalmajor.
In the Second World War Kirchheim served as commanding officer of 169.Infanterie-Division in the western campaign. In March 1941 Rommel made him Leiter des Sonderstabes Lybien. Rommel also frequently called upon Kirchheim to serve as unit commander. Leading the "Brescia" Division, in April 1941 Kirchheim seized Barce and two days later Derna. In spite of being wounded he took part in the battles for Tobruk. At the end of May he became the leader of the Special Staff Tropical at the OKH in Berlin. He was promoted to Generalleutnant on July 1st 1942 and received special assignments in the training and replacement army. At the end of 1944 a serious illness forced him to retire. Kirchheim was one of the true old Africans.
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