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U-boat commanders and war crimes

Discussion in 'Submarines and ASW Technology' started by Hummel, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. Hummel

    Hummel Member

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    Were any German u-boat commanders ever brought up on charges of committing war crimes? Were they convicted? Sentences?

    About the only things I can think of are attacking a neutral ship or gunning sailors in the water.

    Thanks
     
  2. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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  3. Hummel

    Hummel Member

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    Thanks muchos!
     
  4. SerbianWings

    SerbianWings Member

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    Otto Kretschmer

    Fregattenkapitän (Crew 30)


    Successes
    40 ships sunk for a total of 208,954 GRT
    3 auxiliary warships sunk for a total of 46,440 GRT
    1 warship sunk for a total of 1,375 tons
    1 ship sunk for a total of 2,136 GRT
    5 ships damaged for a total of 37,965 GRT
    2 ships a total loss for a total of 15,513 GRT
    Born 1 May 1912
    Heidau, Liegnitz Died 5 Aug 1998(86)Bavaria
    [​IMG]
    Otto Kretschmer​
    Ranks

    1 Apr 1930Offiziersanwärter9 Oct 1930Seekadett1 Jan 1932Fähnrich zur See1 Apr 1934Oberfähnrich zur See1 Oct 1934Leutnant zur See1 Jun 1936Oberleutnant zur See1 Jun 1939Kapitänleutnant1 Mar 1941Korvettenkapitän1 Sep 1944Fregattenkapitän Decorations

    17 Oct 1939Iron Cross 2nd Class9 Nov 1939U-boat War Badge 193917 Dec 1939Iron Cross 1st Class4 Aug 1940Knights Cross4 Nov 1940Knights Cross with Oak Leaves26 Dec 1941Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Crossed Swords
    U-boat Commands

    U-boatFromTo
    U-35 31 Jul 1937 15 Aug 1937 No war patrols U-23 1 Oct 1937 1 Apr 1940 8 patrols (97 days) U-99 18 Apr 1940 17 Mar 1941 8 patrols (127 days) ​

    [​IMG]
    Kptlt. Kretschmer (right) after patrol on U-99
    on the 21st July 1940 in Lorient (France) Before the 17-year-old Otto Kretschmer began his naval career he spent eight months in Exeter, England where he mastered the English language. Beginning in April 1930 he went through the usual officer training, spending three months on the sailing school ship Niobe and more than a year on the light cruiser Emden.
    He served on the light cruiser Köln starting in December 1934, and in January 1936 transferred to the U-boat force. Here he received a solid pre-war training as a U-boat officer. His first command was on U-35 and there he participated in a patrol in Spanish waters in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.
    In September 1937 he left U-35 and took over the Type II U-boat U-23. After the outbreak of the war he won his first successes with U-23 on some patrols in the North Sea in the area of the English and Scottish east coast.
    In November 1939 he laid nine mines in Moray Firth, Scotland. The first great success for Otto Kretschmer was the sinking of the Danish tanker Danmark (10,517 tons) on 12 January 1940.
    Just over a month later he sank the British destroyer HMS Daring (1,375 tons).
    He left U-23 in April 1940 and in the same month commissioned U-99. After two months of training U-99 left Kiel for her first patrol in June 1940. In the course of the next patrols Otto Kretschmer became famous on his U-99 for his night-time surface attacks against convoys, and there his motto "One torpedo ... one ship" was created!
    [​IMG]
    Kptlt. Kretschmer amidst the crew of U-99 after patrol enjoying the first bottle of beer.
    Especially notable was the sinking of three British Armed Merchant Cruisers, Laurentic (18,724 tons), Patroclus (11,314 tons) and Forfar (16,402 tons) in November 1940 for a total of more than 46,000 tons. At that time Silent Otto became the "tonnage king" among U-boat men, never to be dethroned.
    On his last patrol he was also very successful and attacked 10 ships. He was captured after scuttling U-99 at 0343hrs on 17 March, 1941 (Schepke was lost in the same battle) south-east of Iceland in approximate position 61N, 12W after depth charge damage inflicted by the British destroyer HMS Walker (Niestlé, 1998). Kretschmer managed to surface his badly damaged boat and save 40 out of his 43-man crew (his chief engineer died) before the boat sank again for the last time.

    After his capture he spent more than six and a half years in British captivity. For more than four years he was held in Canada in Camp 30 (often referred to as Camp Bowmanville), from where he maintained contact with BdU. In December 1947 he returned to Germany.
    In 1955 Otto Kretschmer joined the Bundesmarine (postwar German navy), in 1957 becoming commander of the 1. Geleitgeschwader (1st Escort Squadron). In November 1958 he became commander of the Amphibische Streitkräfte (Amphibian Forces). Starting in 1962 he served in several staff positions before becoming Chief of Staff of the NATO Command COMNAVBALTAP in May 1965, a position he held for four years. He retired in September 1970 with a rank of Flotillenadmiral.
    During a vacation during the summer of 1998 Otto Kretschmer died in hospital in Bavaria after an accident.
     
  5. Liberator

    Liberator Ace

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    An aircraft's success against U 852 in the Indian Ocean. May 1944


    U 852 (Eck) which had apparently recently arrived in the Jndian Ocean, was destroyed on the 2nd May 1944. A Wellington of 621 Squadron attacked and so damaged her that she was forced to scuttle herself close to the Somali Coast, about 50 miles to the south of Cape Guardafui. H.M.S. " Falmouth " closed and sent a landing party to round up a number of prisoners who had tried to escape ashore.

    KL Heinz Wilhelm Eck - the only U-boat commander to be convicted of war crimes

    Throughout the entire Second World War, the Kriegsmarine had only one U-boat commander convicted of war crimes. KL Heinz Wilhelm Eck of U-852 was indicted and sentenced to death by firing squad at the Nuremberg Tribunal on November 30 1945. Two other officers of U-852, the 2WO and the doctor were also indicted and shot. Additionally, the Leading Engineer and a seaman were complicated in the incident. They both received a reduced sentence of prison terms. The defense presented that the LI had objected to the actions of his CO and the seaman was simply following orders.

    The story of the incident really began on a summer day of March 13, 1944. U-852 was enroute to the Indian Ocean to join the Monsoon wolfpack operating there. During the journey, Eck torpedoed and sank the Greek tramp steamer, SS Peleus. Amid the sinking wreckage were the survivors jammed packed in lifeboats and rafts. Fearing that the survivors of his torpedo attack would be rescued and give away his presence, Eck ordered for all the survivors to be machine gunned.

    In protest, his Leading Engineer questioned his commander's order but could do little to change the fate of the survivors. Standing atop the bridge of the U-boat, the crew of the U-852 meticulously hunted and machine gunned the survivors. Hand grenades were also hurled at the remaining lifeboats. With all the survivors dead, the U-852 sailed away.

    As it turned out, not all the survivors were killed. One survivor managed to escape and was eventually rescued by allied ships. He had lived to tell the story which had led to the indictment of the four U-boat officers and a seaman.

    The U-852 was itself sunk on May 3 1944 by British aircraft off the coast of Somalia. The crew was interned and sent to POW camps, after which they were charged when the war ended.

    The hearing was known as the Peleus Trial.
    The prosecutor was Colonel Halse of the Advocate General’s Office.
    The presiding judge was Major A. Melford Stevenson.

    Those charged were Heinz Eck, August Hoffmann, Walter Weisspfennig, Hans Richard Lenz and Wolfgang Schwender.

    May 2 1944, U-852 beached on Cape Gardefui after attack by RAF aircraft. The crew were captured and later tried for war crimes. KL Heinz Wilhelm Eck, pleaded operational justification during the trial.
     
  6. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    This is a interesting topic. Doentiz wasn't convicted of anything was he? I know he was put on trial in Nuremberg, but was he convicted of any war crimes?
     
  7. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Much evidence points to his being convicted because he was the last fuehrer, and simply could not be let off with no sentence. Indeed, the Allied prosecutors really had to do some twisting and creative word play to get the conviction.
     
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  9. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I came to the same conclusion.
     
  10. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    Reply to post #7 Gotcha A-58 ;)
     
  11. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    Was it he who declared unrestricted warfare against the Allies or was that Hitler?
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    No, Doenitz was not C-in-C yet, so the decision was not his to make.

    The answer is neither, Grossadmiral Erich Raeder was the one.
     
  13. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    Okay. That answers my question. Thanks Takao!
     
  14. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    That is quite interesting to me, because one of the things Raeder is known for is dismissing Reinhard Heydrich in 1931. Alrighty...I'm back on topic.
     
  15. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The German Navy declared unrestricted submarine warfare against the British in WW1 also. That's what finally brought the US into the war. D'oh!
     
  16. Herr Kaleun

    Herr Kaleun Member

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    In late 1945, Karl-Heinz Moehle, 5th Flotilla commander and former CO of U 123, was tried and convicted of passing on Donitz's Laconia Order which forbade U-boats from picking up survivors. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison. He was released in November 1949.

    Moehle testified as a prosecution witness against Donitz at Nüremberg.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Wasn't there an order issued at one point for u-boats to eliminate survivors of their attacks? I seem to recall reading of such and also reading that it was ignored by almost all of the boats.
     
  18. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I've never heard of such, and I'm sure it would be mentioned in books like Clay Blair's Hitler's U-Boat War. The Laconia order mentioned earlier prohibited rescuing survivors, but that's as far as it went. That order was issued after U-156 was attacked while rescuing survivors. Prior to that, U-boats frequently assisted survivors, when they could do so without risk to themselves. There were many cases of pulling alongside lifeboats, providing food, water, medical assistance, or course to the nearest land. Sometimes they even sent radio messages in the clear, giving the location of a sinking. We hardly ever read of submarines of any other nation in WWII doing as much for survivors .
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It may well be that I read it in a discussion in which someone missinterpreted the Laconia order. The KM did seam to be the least fanatical of the services but that is not unusual for navies.

    Looking around a bit I found this page which has a lot of relevant info:
    http://www.uboat.net/articles/55.html
    While reading it I may have found a source for my statement above it states:
    The implication is that Hitler ordered that survivors be killed and Donitz refused the order. They then go on to discuss this in a bit more detail along with the Laconia order.
     
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  20. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    A lot of people, Churchill for one, were determined to cast the U-boats in the worst possible light, even though their own submarines operated in the same manner.
     
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