This was a very special tour, arranged for us by the veterans themselves. No other tour could possibly allow visitors in the places we go or to meet with all these honored veterans. There have never been less than a dozen U-boat Skippers with us & dozens of other officers & crewmen attending our Patrols. The Luftwaffe and other branches of the Wehrmacht are also represented.
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13 October (Saturday) We begin our ‘Patrol in North Germany’ as we always do, with the two hour harbor tour. Several veterans were already with us for this tour. It is always a great icebreaker, and a nice time on the water looking at a historic old city. We are checked into our four-star hotel in Hamburg.
In the evening, we enjoyed our Welcome Dinner at a new place, a four star restaurant overlooking the Hamburg harbor with all the lights and view of the area. Joining us were Kriegsmarine veterans KARL WALDECK and his wife Anne, Captain GÜNTHER HEINRICH (photo below) Captain MATTHIAS BRÜNIG and VOLKMAR KÖNIG (photo below). HEINRICH was Skipper of U-960; BRÜNIG of U-108; and KÖNIG was midshipman on U-99 under OTTO KRETSCHMER. All were happy to tell their memories, sign autographs and have their photos taken.
14 October (Sunday) After a great breakfast (this hotel includes champagne on the breakfast) several head off for the fischmarkt which is actually a huge flea market and fresh fish market rolled into one. It stretches more than one kilometer, maybe two kilometers, along the waterfront and there you can find anything – well, almost.
Professor (Captain) BRÜNIG led us around the important sightseeing places in Hamburg – city hall, Hamburg Museum and much more.
|Captain Hess again at his Periscope||Hess, Cooper, and Günther at U-995|
15 October (Monday) We head for the Marine Ehrenmal (Navy Memorial) and the only Type VII-C boat left in the world, U-995. There we are met by her former Skipper and our dear friend HANS-GEORG HESS (photo above) and his wife Heilwig (a very accomplished tennis player) as well as WOLDEMAR TRIEBEL, former I.W.O. on U-978; and ERNST GÖTHLING (photo above) from U-25. We toured this boat, beautifully maintained by the German Navy League, and then we had a special treat – a talk on the brand new 214 Class submarine (photo below) from one of the top engineers of HDW where these air-independent submarines are designed and built. This submarine runs her diesel engines underwater – deep underwater – without the need for outside air. Naturally, we cannot give his name as this was a very special lecture but we thank this engineer greatly for his time.
The 214 Class submarine, the world’s most modern non-nuclear submarine.
After lunch, we were at the U-Boot-Ehrenmal (submarine Memorial) where SHARKHUNTERS sends about $1,000 each year and so far, have sent more than 14,000 German Marks. It must have come in handy, as the huge bronze eagle atop the Memorial needed to be replaced some months ago at a cost of some 1.2 million German Marks, so our 14,000 went to a worthy cause.
As we were about to begin our Memorial Service, American submarine veteran ERIC MATHEWS attached two medals to our wreath (photo below). He said that it was his way of thanking the men who left his grandfather on Tahiti at the beginning of the First World War. “In the end, we are all brothers of the sea.” is the way ERIC put it.
|Memorial Wreath||In the Honors Chamber||TAMM & COOPER|
We had our Memorial Service with President HARRY COOPER giving some words of remembrance for those who did not return, followed by WOLDEMAR TRIEBEL & KARL WALDECK with more words of friendship across the sea. The wreath was placed on the Honors Pillar and we entered the Honors Chamber (photo above). In this curving slash in the ground are bronze tablets with the number of each U-boat lost in the war with the Skipper’s name, whether he was lost or not, followed by the names of everyone who was lost when that U-boat went down. It is a beautiful but very sad place.
16 October (Tuesday) We were at the museum PETER TAMM and it is said that this is the world’s most impressive privately owned naval museum. We must disagree with that statement – we believe that this is the most impressive naval museum in the world of any kind, privately owned or otherwise; it is just awesome! There is room after room full of rare and one-of-a-kind naval artifacts, including the baton of Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz, also that of Grossadmiral Erich Raeder and the batons of two of the crown princes – and that is just one display. If one would spend a week, a month or a year in this museum, there would still be more to see and experience.
PETER TAMM himself received us, and we presented him with a US Navy Captain’s uniform of the war years (photo above). He is a fine and gracious gentleman, and we are always pleased to visit his museum.
We then went to the grave of Grossadmiral Dönitz where, as always, we placed flowers. This is a beautiful spot with his great stone crucifix and the grave surrounded by tall pine trees. At his feet are two stones, one for each of his sons who were killed in the war. One was only twenty years of age when he was killed on his U-boat – the other killed on his S-boat in the English Channel…….on his 24th birthday. Our friend H-J von KNEBEL DOBERITZ showed us the way, and he planned our lunch at a nearby restaurant. von KNEBEL has been the Aide-de-Camp of Grossadmiral Dönitz and he was I.W.O. on U-99 under OTTO KRETSCHMER. The food and service were great; the fellowship among our SHARKHUNTERS Members was even better.
Late in the afternoon, we checked into our Four-Star hotel in Bremen.
HEINZ HOCH is a U-boat veteran and Member of SHARKHUNTERS for 15 years. He wrote:
“The trip was well prepared. My favorite memory is the comfortable bus ride and the camaraderie.”