Northern Germany – 2012

 

GETTING STARTED – No, this building is not going to tip over or sail off into outer space. This is the way it was designed – we think……..

 

Sharkhunters Member, our friend and our guide for this day DIETER FUNK (7368-2008) helped Sharkhunters honor the fallen soldiers at this Soldiers’ Cemetery. It is very rare that there can be a sign indicating that a cemetery is for the fallen of World War Two. It is here in Hamburg.

Sadness over the loss of a loved one – brother, father or husband is universal.
All these scenes are
inside this structure in peace and quiet.
Who doesn’t know that, according to ancient mythology, when you die you must cross the River Styx and this scene depicts the boatman taking a family across. This is a beautiful and serene place.

Max Schmeling

Do you remember the name Max Schmeling? He was a boxer and Heavyweight Champion of the World and he was a German Fallshirmjäger (paratrooper). He also owned a brewery and DIETER showed it.

 

Okay, we are not even going to try to describe this mural, but it will take you to the next day of our 2012 Northern Germany Patrol.

 

This was a slow day as we are just assembling. The “Patrol” officially begins tomorrow but we are assembled and go to a rather interesting restaurant for dinner. The food was excellent and the service just as good. The decor and the menu were a bit confusing as you see below.

In no particular order we meet:
MARK LENZ (1728-1991)…..sorry about the terrible photo
TROY STROTHERS (7255-2007)
PAUL KEMP (5400-1997) PAUL
looks nervous about this place
ERWIN BURDT (1328-1989) he rode U-733
Bernie Burdt – ERWIN‘s son
Colonel CAL DELAPLAIN (1002-1989)
Colonel RON KLOET (7614-2012)

The name of this restaurant was the “Freudenhaus” which we later learned meant “Cat House” or more plainly stated “Whore House“. It was not one of those houses – just a nice restaurant with an unusual name.

Our good friends KLAUS KLEMME (7519-2010) visited with his wife Hanni and his big black dog Rocki

The University of Hamburg
This mural on a building indicates that we were near the “Bohemian” part of Hamburg – the “Old Town” of Chicago or the Haight-Ashbury part of San Francisco as it were. Our hotel was located on a pleasant side street.

 

 

 

Wanting to let our travelers get “up to speed” with the jet lag, today was spent in Hamburg. We began by walking a short distance to the Elbe River where we would board our boat for the hafenrundfahrt – the harbor tour. Hamburg is now the largest container port in Europe and second only to Rotterdam in the number of bridges. Okay, let’s begin our walk and along the way, we pass under a beautiful old bridge that has a rather unusual “apartment complex”………you will understand.

Above and below – old ornate beauty of the bridge Above – the old ornate beauty of the bridge
Below – an “open air apartment” complex

We have no idea how many are living in this makeshift dwelling beneath this bridge but from the number of sleeping bags and individual areas, there is apparently a small community living here. Okay………..let’s move on.

We pause for refreshments atop the Blockhouse restaurant while we wait for our hafenrundfahrt and look over this historic section of Hamburg.

Both above – we are overlooking the beautiful but very busy Elbe River; the river where battleship BISMARCK sailed forth from the Blohm und Voss shipyard as well as hundreds of U-Boats and other ships.

Photo left under the yellow arrow we see the dome of the old Elbe Tunnel, built way before World War Two. In this piece of engineering wizardry, the cars drive in and onto an elevator which brings them far down in the earth. The driver then drives across deep beneath the Elbe to the elevator on the other side to return to the surface. Pedestrians also walk beneath the Elbe to the other side. It is an engineering marvel!

The yellow arrow in the right photo is again Blohm und Voss and this is the largest graving dock in Europe. Many years ago when the luxury liner QUEEN ELIZABETH II struck an underwater obstruction off the New England coast, she was given an emergency patching in the USA but brought to this very dock for permanent repairs.

It was jokingly reported that in reality QE II actually hit another of Ted Kennedy’s sunken cars…………..there is no proof of that.

Our harbor cruise boat is ready for boarding, so let’s get comfortable.

Some prefer the open air of the after deck……….. ………some like it inside

Either way, our cruise boat is shoving off for the tour of this huge harbor.

On our outbound trip, we pass two museum ships and that graving dock
Up close and personal for sure
We must transit a set of locks CHARLIE checks for clearance
The part of the Elbe is quieter but here is a Bundsmarine intelligence gathering ship Into the canals of Hamburg

All too soon our harbor patrol ends and we walk to the Blockhouse for lunch.

Leave it to COOPER to find some really strange people……….

PAUL (left) in a thoughtful mood Col. ABU RON (foreground) enjoying his beer
A Marine Chantychor (Navy Chantey Chorus) always sounds good.

 

For abbendessen (dinner) we are back at our favorite Italian restaurant where the friendly staff remembers us. Okay, that’s just a joke. We had excellent service and great food. Guess this waiter is having a slow day.

Some chose to eat outside; others inside.

 

We are off to the FISCHMARKT (Fish Market) then aboard a Soviet TANGO Class submarine……and an interesting dinner.

CLICK on this photo and come aboard.

A hafenrundfahrt is a great way to see the city by water and for our participants to meet each other.

 

Today we visit U-995, the only Type VII-C left in existence and this was the boat of our great friend HANS-GEORG HESS (125-1985). But first, we stop on the Autobahn for breakfast. Most of the restaurants along the Autobahn are clean, modern with great food at decent prices. For some reason however, they don’t like photos being taken of their facilities.

Great selection TROY and CHARLIE contemplate Inside or outside?

Using the iPad GPS of Colonel CAL DELAPLAIN(1002-1989) rather than maps, we arrived quickly and without incident.

As we round the corner, there she is coming out of the morning mists and we go on board

The sharp ‘Atlantic Bow’ The saddle tanks, distinctive of the Type VII boats
ERWIN BURDT (1328-1989) served aboard the Type VII-C boat U-733 in the electric motor room and he tells us about that time
Looking aft from the e-machineraun into the after torpedo room.

The stern tube (Tube V) on all Type VII variants fired beneath the waterline between the props and rudders – EXCEPT the ten Type VII-A boats which had Tube V above the waterline.

We now move forward from the e-machine room into the diesel room

(Backbord) Portside diesel (Steuerbord) Starboard side diesel
ERWIN explains the diesels to PAUL The air compressor forward of the portside diesel
The crew of a Type VII-C boat usually consisted of four officers and men totaling between 44 and 54 men who had to be fed. ‘Smutje‘ (the cook) had to cook all the meals on this three-burner electric stove.
ERWIN tells us how it was, “hot bunking” in the boats. That means there were two men assigned to each bunk. When one was on duty, the other had the bunk. In most cases, the bunks quickly got soaked with the sweat and smell of each man combined with the dampness of the boat and the salt water that came into the boat when the hatches were open. It certainly was not a five-star hotel!
We move forward into the Zentralle – the central control room
the gyrocompass on the aft side of the periscope shears
the navigator’s area was portside the diving planesmen sat side by side on the leather
bench in the foreground facing outward to starboard
in the funkraum (radio room) above and both below – ERWIN explains the bow room to CHARLIE

From U-995 we cross the street to the Marine Ehrenmal – the Navy Memorial

The Memorial building towers high above the Baltic one of the props from PRINZ EUGEN

LEFT – the Memorial to the 3,505 Americans who perished aboard U.S. Navy submarines
MARTIN SCHAEFFER (189-1986) was instrumental in placing this plaque here
CENTER – in Memory of the German Navy men who perished in World War One
RIGHT – in Memory of the German Navy men who perished in World War Two

the ship’s bell from ADMIRAL HIPPER the passageway to the Memorial Chamber

Our host at the Marine Ehrenmal (Navy Memorial) was WOLDEMAR TRIEBEL (197-1986), known to his friends as ‘BOBBY‘. Here he takes the time to pose with some of our group high atop the Memorial.

HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) Colonel CAL DELAPLAIN (1002-1989)
TROY STROTHER (7255-2007) Doctor CHARLES ELLIS (7324-LIFE-2008)
As already stated, we are a LONG WAY up in the sky atop the Marine Ehrenmal (German Navy Memorial). It is a beautiful tribute to the men of the German Navy who perished in two World Wars.

WOLDEMAR TRIEBEL (BOBBY) was I.W.O. (Executive Officer) aboard U-978 under GÜNTHER PULST (330-1987) until the end of the war.

It’s time for lunch at the Seeterrassen then we drive on to the U-Bootehrenmal as you see here.

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As we arrive we note that the big eagle is missing from the pillar.
It was bronze covered iron and the salt air was damaging it, so
it is being replaced by a solid bronze eagle.
Ships transiting the Kiel Kanal dip their ensigns
in respect as they pass the Memorial.
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“To the Memorial Chamber” “In memory of the fallen submariners of the German Navy”
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At the entrance to the Memorial Chamber we see many wreaths of remembrance, placed there by loved ones of the U-Bootfahrer who did not return.

In the Memorial Chamber………

…..there is a Memorial bronze with the number of each U-Boat lost in each World War. The name of the Skipper is on each plaque whether he was lost or not – then there are the names of each man who was killed in action. There are about 30,000 names on these plaques as about one man in seven came home – the other six of seven were killed in action. This is the worst attrition rate of any military force ever in history yet these men still went to sea, did their duty without deserting – and died for their country. MARK LENZ (1728-1991) pauses here for reflection.

As we depart the Memorial Chamber…………

…..we pass even more wreaths remembering the fallen U-Bootfahrer.

From the left –
ERWIN BURDT (1328-1989)
HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983)
WOLDEMAR TRIEBEL (197-LIFE-1986)
PAUL KEMP (5400-1997)

No public funds maintain this Memorial – it all comes from donations. This day Sharkhunters gave another €200 (about $300) to the Memorial, which brings to total so far to about $7,000 Sharkhunters has donated to this beautiful Memorial. 10% of all the money Sharkhunters receives from the sale of our hand-signed fine art prints is donated to the U-Boot Ehrenmal.

Tomorrow we head for Wewelsburg Castle, taken over by Heinrich Himmler to be used for training his new SS officers. Click below and come with us.

 

We tour the only Type VII-C left in the world and it is U-995, the boat of our best friend in Germany, HANS-GEORG HESS (125-1985) and we tour with TWO U-Boat veterans.

 

SHARKHUNTERS International
Northern Patrol 2012
Wednesday 29 August

Wewelsburg Castle

The very mention of the name of this castle brings shivers up the spines of real historians. It was built in the 17th century as a hunting lodge for a church bishop (nice benefits for the job!) but in the early days of the Third Reich, it was taken over by Heinrich Himmler as a training facility for his young SS officers. There were sleeping rooms, training rooms – and a very special crypt.

As Germany was on the verge of surrender, Himmler ordered that the main tower, which was a very special place to the SS, must be destroyed by fire. The SS troops on scene did indeed set fire to the tower, but the tower and much of the contents were not destroyed.

Come with us as we visit this historic place – which has undergone massive changes in the past two years.

Himmler3x

As always, photographs are allowed – but NOT inside the tower. This is a major change. We will see why shortly.

Other changes – previously one could walk right into the underground crypt called Valhalla Halle by some, as well as the meeting room on the floor above. Not any more. One must have a guide who will tell the sanitized and enhanced version of this history and one must spend minimum of an hour in the newly built museum with the guide telling this ‘history’. Join us – you will be surprised.

We see the castle as we park Picture of the North Tower shot 31 May 1925
The Important North Tower We walk on a different path that was not
used when we visited before.
On the other side of the overpass further into the courtyard
……….and we have arrived – but NOT YET into the North Tower….

……we must first go through the museum. We asked the guide how long we would be in the museum before we got into the tower and he told us minimum of an hour but probably more like one and a half hours to see it all properly. We told him we were pressed for time (we lost one hour on the Autobahn due to highway construction) and we had a schedule – we told him maximum twenty minutes in the museum. He said this was not possible to see it all properly – we told him to talk fast and to walk faster.

As we walked we asked the guide why so much new security with the need for a guide and for so many new cameras. He said that they did not want neo-Nazis coming there and saying things like “88” or making those gestures with the right arm. Anyone who did such would be immediately thrown out and off the grounds. One of our group asked if there really was freedom of speech in Germany but the guide apparently did not hear the question as there was no reply.

Photos were allowed in the museum and we shot some as we whizzed through, headed for the North Tower. Following are just some random photos we took in the museum.

Finally we were in the crypt beneath the North Tower where young SS officers swore their oath of allegiance. Photography was not allowed so you might want to look at any of our previous Northern ‘Patrols‘ where we visited Wewelsburg Castle when photography was allowed. Look also at our DVD-11 “Castles of the SS” and we give a thorough tour of this castle. Log onto www.sharkhunters.com and click on ‘DVDs’ in the left margin. You may click on these scenes to get a brief idea what is on this DVD. SCENE 1 SCENE 2

Okay, we go into Valhalla Halle where photography is strictly forbidden. There are security cameras everywhere and other electronic monitoring devices we couldn’t identify. However, the camera of one of our group malfunctioned and took photos – doggone!

These pictures on the walls depicting what the artist felt showed the anguish and suffering………whatever, are all new here. Previously there were just the plain stone walls. We asked our guide what was the reason for them and he told us “they are meant to terrify right radicals“. None of our group ran out of the hall screaming, so I guess none of us are ‘Right Radicals’.

At the entrance to the hall we see one of the many cameras One of the 12 paintings. Our guide was quick to tell us that
these are only copies – that the originals are kept in a safe
place. Like who cares? It’s not like they are the Mona Lisa
and some clever art thief will steal & sell them. Who knows?

 

NG2012g15 We then went up to the meeting room directly above and found there were beanbag chairs all over the place and again, we asked the guide what was the reason. He said that true Nazis would not sit on a Swastika. HUH? We had to burst his bubble and tell him that this was not a Swastika but in fact, it was a “Sonnenrad” – a German Sunburst. He said he was aware of that, but this is what he was supposed to say.

It is highly unlikely that we will ever return to Wewelsburg but for the moment, let’s go to Mittagessen – midday meal or more easily understood – lunch

We walked a few hundred meters to our restaurant. This had been turned into an Officers’ Club for the SS by Himmler. it is now a restaurant with excellent food – and quite a history. A group of WW II veterans had finished their lunch was departing, leaving the restaurant to us.

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Look closely at the trim around the building……… …..does anything stand out?
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The main room is huge and traditional This stove is only for show – they cook in another room
At the end of each booth the emblem of a different
SS division is beautifully carved into the end piece.
The same emblem of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf

During the days of the Reich, the basement was given over to the Hitler Junge for their meetings and to be used as sort of clubhouse as well. This HJ Keller is preserved in the same way as it operated in the days of the Reich (photos below). A few years ago our entire Sharkhunters ‘Patrol‘ group enjoyed our lunch in this Keller.

Always a roaring fire in the Keller Flowers and candles were a favorite here

We decided to go upstairs for our lunch – into the rooms that had been the private rooms of Himmler and other high-ranking SS men.

Who relaxed on this sofa 70 years ago? Who ate at this table back then?
How many high ranking SS officers enjoyed their meals here in
this room – at these very tables? Let your mind wander into history.

 

Sharkhunters $300 donation to the Memorial!

Once again we visit Wewelsburg Castle, but in the few years since we have been there, a lot has changed – a WHOLE lot!

CLICK on this photo and come with us.

NG2012h40 U-2540, the last Type XXI submarine left in the world, waits for our Sharkhunters ‘PATROL‘. This was the world’s first true submarine, meant to operate entirely underwater.

 

SHARKHUNTERS International
Northern Patrol 2012
Thursday 30 August

Today we tour the only Type XXI U-Boat left in the world. The Type XXI was the world’s first true submarine and even though they were forced to operate near the surface much of the time to run their diesels with the snorkel, they had a higher top speed underwater than they did surfaced. After the war, the victorious Allies raced to scoop up as much German advanced technology and the Type XXI was a great prize. Using the technology from the Type XXI, the French built the DAPHNE Class; the Soviets built the WHISKEY Class – the US Navy and the Royal Navy also used the Type XXI as a model for their post-war submarines. U-2540 is waiting for us – we drive to Bremerhafen.

This will be a quick overview without too much narrative just to give you a brief look at this submarine that was so advanced for its time.

The batteries have all been removed, there is no fuel and no armament on board, so U-2540 sits very high in the water. The light grey would be above the water while the darker grey would be running under the water when the boat was at surface trim.

The clean, smooth lines of this submarine clearly shows why she was copied by other navies.

Okay, let’s go on board this beautiful boat.

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The officers actually had cabins…………. …..and a wardroom
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The Skipper’s quarters Diving planesmen stations
Navigator area Pretty fancy galley Can this be our cook?
I like this crew already
U-Boat veteran ERWIN BURDT (1328-1989) was quick to note that these are not the nine-cylinder inline MAN diesels that were normally used. This boat was retrofitted for use in the new Bundsmarine in the 1950’s and was highly modified including these new engines.
As we end our tour of U-2540, the only Type XXI boat left in the world, COOPER bids a Sharkhunters farewell to ‘the crew‘. Actually they were two Russian students visiting Germany during their college break and were here visiting this boat at the same time we were.

We saw other museum ships as we walked to the very nice restaurant for our lunch.

Lightship ELBE 3 U-2540 seen over the bows of ELBE 3

This boat above has a special significance for our Sharkhunters ‘PATROLS‘. She was built in Gulfport, Mississippi in 1906 and hauled freight for many decades. She is now a museum ship and floating restaurant. When we ‘met‘ this ship in 1988 (First Sharkhunters European ‘PATROL) she was in Hamburg and our Sharkhunters group of 40 went aboard for a lunch of Lobskaus, the traditional German U-Boot meal. It was here that we met OTTO KRETSCHMER (122-1985), and PETER HANSEN (251-1987) also joined us for lunch way back 24 years ago.

Time flies………….when is the last Sharkhunters ‘PATROL‘ you enjoyed? Don’t keep putting it off – time flies!

We enjoyed lunch together in an excellent restaurant on the waterfront. It was a quiet lunch as it would be our last lunch together on this ‘PATROL‘ as this is our last day. We had our ‘Farewell Dinner‘ in the evening near our hotel and the 2012 Sharkhunters ‘Northern Germany Patrol‘ ended. Were YOU with us? If not, save your vacation days for 2013 and join us. Remember – the clock is ticking.