Günther Prien and the first Knights Cross of 1939
Günther Prien was born in Osterfeld (Thuringia) on 16 January 1908 and graduated from the Class IV/1933 at the Naval Academy at Mürwick. He would become a professional naval officer in the Reichsmarine; later to become the Kriegsmarine. He was the first to sink a battleship and to receive the RK. He trained as a Skipper under Werner Hartmann aboard U-26 then put U-47 into commission on 17 December 1938.
Naturally, the most famous feat of Günther Prien and in fact, one of the most famous of the entire war for the Kriegsmarine was his entry into the Royal Navy anchorage at Scapa Flow and sinking the battleship HMS ROYAL OAK. For this daring and successful feat he was awarded the Knights Cross on 18 October 1939; the only U-Boat officer to be so honored in 1939. He would live just another seventeen months.
Prien’s U-47 and her entire crew were lost on 7 March 1941 and although the official report of the time showed that HMS WOLVERINE sank U-47, a Board of Inquiry two decades later headed by Konteradmiral Otto Kretschmer determined it was a circular run of her own torpedo that killed U-47. It was not U-47 but rather U-A that was under attack by HMS WOLVERINE.
This DVD comes from an UFA German newsreel film and we see Prien and his crew arriving in Berlin to receive their medals. We watch as the big FW 200 CONDOR touches down amidst a light drizzle on a grey morning at Templehof. Prien and his men climb into the limousines that take them to the Chancellery where Adolf Hitler is waiting. Prien makes a short speech and his men are laughing and joking while showing off their medals.
In addition to the section dedicated to Günther Prien and his exploits, there is also much more combat footage from UFA as the Wehrmacht continued to roll up victory after victory.