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"Patrol " in Northern Germany with Berlin and Poland September - October 2005
A "Trip into the Tunnels of Time"
Before beginning this tour however, let's take a look at our group (photo above) by the famous Brandenburgertor (Brandenburg Gate) and read what they had to say.
"I wanted to let you know how happy I am that Loren talked me into going on this tour to (north) Germany and Poland. I really, really, really had a blast and met so many wonderful people. Thanks to Sharkhunters I even conquered some long time fears. My favorite memory of all is the WHOLE TOUR! Most women think that they would not enjoy this at all. I'm here to say they have no clue what they are missing. This tour is engraved in my memory forever. Thanks for such an invigorating tour. I'll be sending my Membership fee soon and I'll be proud to say that I'm a Member!! Once again, a special thanks to your love of history."
EDDIE HOGAN (6979-2005)
is greeted by Mary Myers.
|Not the jungles of
Guatemala, but the
remains of the hidden bunker
complex of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz - and the Sharkhunters were here!
Loren Charles (3818-2003):
"What a wonderful tour. It will always live in our memories. I only wish I could have done this years earlier, yet I'm so happy I made this one. The history we lived, walked through and relived was amazing and meeting some of the very special men who played a part in this history made it all the more incredible."
Miguel Gonzales-Hermosillio (3076-1993):
"The Sharkhunters 'Patrols' are a Ticket into the Tunnel of Time".
Lars Sunn Pedersen (3782-1994):
"It was a fantastic meeting we had with you, and it was nice to meet some Members. I thank you for our short meeting and shall be looking forward to seeing you again; whenever that will be!"
Charter Member Bill Reed (13-LIFE-1983):
"I have been on other Sharkhunters "Patrols" but this was far and away the best ever!"
Duane Luthe-Charles (5821-LIFE-1999) and Penny were on both "Patrols":
"WOW! What a "Patrol"! It was everything you said it would be and more, it was terrific!! My comments briefly for now would be - a highpoint of my life due to not only walking the same path as great German historical leaders, but also walking with American men of history. You see Harry, 'the Volk' were the real highpoint for me, just being in the presence of the German veterans was awesome, recognizing the mindset of the German people and the burden they carry (especially the later generations) was an education in German tragedy! I shall never forget the proud but sad expressions at Ulrichsberg. I have always been proud of my great-uncle who served the Kaiser 1914-1918. The Sharkhunters Members we met and are in contact with are of great importance to us - what a wonderful group of people.
You have something to be very proud of, Commander!!"
Dr. Renée von Worde (887-1988)has been on previous "Patrols" and she writes:
"I have been reading about the FABULOUS "Patrols" and also the Members' comments. I know that everyone had the trip of a lifetime. I have fantastic memories of our trip and I think of how much I am looking forward to being able to return. With Sharkhunters, one experiences history and creates memories that last forever. "No other tour can even come close!"
And from friends who met us there, Dr. (Law) Hans-Georg Hess (125-LIFE-1985) and his son, attorney Tilman Hess (5817-LIFE-1999), they said:
"You organized everything so fantastic and you keep your head above the water."
|Hess as a 21-year-young
||Many years later, Hess at the bridge of his "old girlfriend"|
At just barely 21 years of age when
given command of U-995, Hess was the youngest combat submarine Skipper of
any nation in World War II and possibly of all time. Today (photo below)
he is a retired Doctor of Law.
Our arrival day and we checked into our five-star hotel to relax a bit from traveling. We met one another at 1800 hours and went over the itinerary, some of the anticipated highlights etc., then headed off to dinner.
Day 2 - Those of us who were tough travelers and explorers were up well before dawn and we headed for the "Fischmarkt", which is actually a massive flea market, stretching along more than one kilometer of the waterfront of the River Elbe.
The early morning sun is just beginning to peek over the horizon at the Fischmarkt.
This was once merely a
market for the fishermen to sell the fish they caught, but it has exploded into
one of the biggest flea markets in Europe and it is difficult to find someone
selling fish among the thousands of vendors selling the usual (and sometimes UNusual) flea market items.
After some hours buying souvenirs, we had some time to freshen up and take a short nap. In the mid-afternoon, we took a two-hour sightseeing tour of Hamburg from the upper deck of a British-style double-decker bus.
Along the famous "Reeperbahn", at
night - world's
biggest 'Red Light' district.
Blohm & Voss Shipyard, where
and a great many U-Boats were built.
Former Soviet JULIET Class submarine in Hamburg.
Naturally, all this buying and traveling made us hungry, so many of us gathered for dinner then a drink at Trader Vic's to have "one for the road" to help us sleep.
Day 3 - This is one of the few "formal" days over our two weeks - our bus took us through the German countryside to the little village of Laboe, a suburb of Kiel on the shores of the Baltic Sea where we visited U-995, the only Type VII-C left in the world. We had more than an hour to spend going all through and all around the outside of this wartime veteran, once the boat of our very good friend Oberleutnant zur See (der Reserve) Hans-Georg Hess. Just barely past his 21st birthday when given command, he was the youngest combat submarine Skipper of World War II and possibly ever in history.
Click on the photo of U-995 here and take a virtual tour of this boat, courtesy of Erik Krogh (6873-2004)
Our friend Professor Matthias Brünig (1943-LIFE-1991), former Skipper of U-108, joined us for the day and Waldemar Triebel (197-LIFE-1986, former I.W.O. of U-978, was there to greet us and take us to all these attractions. Note that he has been a Member of Sharkhunters since 1986. Triebel (Bobby to his friends) is in this photo with U.S. Marine Corps. combat veteran of Vietnam Bill Napier (2290-C/LIFE1992). Photo below right is of Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983) and Professor Matthias Brünig.
We walked across the street to the "Marine Ehrenmal" or the
Navy Memorial where we spent more time in this solemn place - and we spent some
money on souvenirs.
It was only a walk of perhaps 50 meters to the beautiful "Seeterrassen" Restaurant, which is a tradition for us when we are at the Memorial. The name simply means the terrace by the sea, and we looked out at the maritime traffic passing us on the waters of the Baltic.
|from the left: John Hanniford
Prof. Matthias Brünig (1943-LIFE-1991)
Miguel Gonzales-Hermosilio (3076-1993)
Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983)
Greg Thatcher (6720-2003)
|A square-rigger makes her way to the entrance of the Kiel Kanal.|
A short bus ride and we are at the "U-Boot-Ehrenmal" or
Submarine Memorial where we were met by three more U-Boat veterans. We had
a ceremony and laid a beautiful wreath to remember the men who did not return
from patrol.....some 32,000 of them (photo below left). Photo below right is in the "Honors
- Sharkhunters so far has contributed
to this Memorial from the sale of our signed prints.
|U-Boat veteran Hans Holst, President of the
and Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983) at the memorial Ceremony.
A small part of our group in the Honors Chamber:
Walter Jucker (6516-2002) and his wife Florence had this to say:
"Thanks for a great trip and the opportunity to see the historic and special places which we would never as private citizens have had the privilege of viewing and learning so much about."
Then we were invited into the headquarters of the U-Bootskameradschaft of Kiel where we talked and visited with all the veterans (as in photo below), shared a couple beers and of course - bought more souvenirs. But these were very special souvenirs, as they all pertained to the U-Boat War. After some hours, we boarded our bus for the ride back to Hamburg, but with many great memories and new friends just met.
Duane Luthe-Charles (5821-LIFE-1999) said this:
"Of the whole "Patrol", I best liked the U-Boat Memorial and the U-Bootkameradschaft of Kiel"
Our visit to the awesome private museum of Peter Tamm always just boggles the minds of those who come here the first time. There is no naval museum in the world that can compare to this one that is housed in a former opulent hotel on the banks of the Elbe River. The magnitude and scope of the collection just has to be seen to be realized (for instance - more than 35,000 ship models!)! Everyone with us for their first time said that this Museum was FAR better than we had said. Professor Brünig (1943-LIFE-1991) again joined us and gave some excellent commentary of Hamburg sights as we rode our bus to and from the various places this day. He has been a Member of Sharkhunters since 1991 and always gives us great information on this city. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed thanks to some left-wing idiots that had toured some weeks before us and put their photos up on the web and labeled the museum with a false name. This photo was shot with approval.
|In Tamm's garden||This photo of the Admiralstab
(Admiral's Baton) of Großadmiral
Karl Dönitz was taken during an earlier 'Patrol'.
Our lunch was in an unusual restaurant on the banks of the Elbe. Okay, so it housed the world's largest collections of ships in bottles, but more important was the fact that this restaurant welcomed all the ships entering the harbor, and bade farewell to those departing. All of Hamburg's shipping has to pass directly in front of this restaurant and they have a radio receiver and so they know which ship is passing and so as the ship is directly in front of the restaurant, the loudspeaker plays the national anthem of their homeport country, flies that national flag, and gives a hearty "Welcome!" to those entering the port; and a wish for a safe journey to those departing.
We knew that once in Berlin, our schedule would resemble that of a U. S. Marine Corps recruit, so we wanted to get in all the free time that we could here.
We met our friend Marianne Grap(213-LIFE-1986), widow of Wilhelm Grap of the crew of U-506, and she guided us to a quaint little Gasthaus in a very upscale suburb of Hamburg where we enjoyed lunch, and our Guest of Honor at lunch was Kapitän zur See Otto von Bülow (305-LIFE-1987). He was Skipper of U-404, was decorated with the Knights Cross with Oak Leaf, and has been a strong Member of Sharkhunters since 1987.
from the left - Kapitän zur See (a.D.) OTTO von BÜLOW (305-LIFE-1987), Skipper of U-404 and holder of the Knights Cross with Oak Leaf; BILL NAPIER (2290-C/LIFE-1992) US Marine Corps combat veteran; Kapitän zur See (a.D.) von Bülow, son of the World War II U-Boat Skipper.
This wonderful old gentleman,
now some 95 years of age, did not
hesitate to sign all autographs for our Members there. He has been
one of the strongest supporters of Sharkhunters among
the Kriegsmarine veterans.
Photo right is the crucifix that stands
at the head of the grave of
Großadmiral Karl Dönitz. This year, Sharkhunters Members
generously sent donations to help repair & maintain this
NOTE: Sharkhunters Members
donated $4,000 to repair this crucifix in 2005!
Duane Luthe-Charles (5821-LIFE-1999) said:
"I really liked meeting Otto von Bülow (305-LIFE-1987) and the two guys who found and raised U-534, Pedersen (3782-1994) and Aage Jensen (3783-1994). Two thumbs up, Commander!"
Duane's wife Penny, said this about our "Patrol":
"I best liked seeing the sights in Berlin, Brandenburg Gate etc. and my best memories of this "Patrol" are the palaces, the forts, sightseeing in Hamburg and the historical buildings all along the way. I had a wonderful time seeing Northern Germany along with fellow 'patrolees' who are just great people and who contributed to my overall enjoyment each and every day.
Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983) placing flowers on the grave of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz. Sharkhunters Members have donated $4,000 in 2005 alone to maintain and preserve this beautiful last resting place of a great man.
After lunch, we made our annual visit to the grave of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz not far from this Gasthaus. It is a beautiful place with a 20-foot-tall crucifix at the head - and at the feet, a stone marker remembering his two sons who were killed in action in the war at sea. We placed flowers on his grave.
A short walk back to the bus through this quiet and beautiful cemetery, then our "Royal Class" motor coach sped off for Berlin! When we arrived, another friend quickly took us to a section of the Autobahn where we walked for about one kilometer and were never bothered by any traffic (photo below). This is a section of the original Autobahn with the inlaid cobblestones. It was here where Eva Braun sped along in her red Mercedes roadster; where the troops marched on special occasions - but it is now condemned to death. A new section of Autobahn has been built to bypass this section and they are pulling up the cobblestones and letting nature take its course to overgrow everything.
|Penny and Loren on the old Autobahn - no traffic!||The "Autobahn to Nowhere" will soon
be lost to the world - and to history!
By now, we were hungry and we sat down to a traditional German dinner of
"Schweinehaxe" in a nice old restaurant on the banks of the Teltow
Kanal where, in April 1945, the German Army and Waffen SS tried in vain to
prevent the Red Army from crossing. We were a tired bunch when we checked
into our hotel in Berlin.
We enjoyed sightseeing from our bus as we approached historical Caecilienhof (photo below left) for a tour of this magnificent place. This was once the home of the German Crown Prince but in a calculated move to further break any German spirit, the "Big Three" held their convention to carve up Germany in this very place. We saw the various rooms, including the conference room, and it was truly a trip back into time.
From here it was a short ride to Sanssoucci (it means No Sorrow), the palace of
Friederich der Grosse. We spent a while walking the grounds (above right), looking at the
grave of King Friederich and those of his beloved greyhound dogs, took a lot of
photos & videos, then on the bus again.
We stopped at the former Police Headquarters where Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg was shot after his failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in the Wolfsschanze. He proved once again, the ancient theory that if you are going to kill the king, you better not fail!
|The former Luftwaffeministerium (Air
from where Hermann Göring directed the Luftwaffe during WW II.
|Anthea Houser does something quite impossible
just two decades ago;
she has one foot in West Berlin and the other in East Berlin.
Our bus rolled along the famed "Unter den Linden" where Hanna
Reitsch landed her Fiesler STORCH light aircraft in a vain attempt to
convince Adolf Hitler to flee Berlin. On his refusal, she took a general
out instead. We also drove along the "Kudam" (short for
Kurfürstendamm) where spies met and exchanged secrets during World War II and the
Cold War. Then we were passing the "AVUS", a former
auto racing track that is now part of the German Autobahn. The grandstands
still quietly watch traffic dash past, but it has been decades since they were filled with
fans looking down on any auto racing. The stands are now deserted and
rusting, and have been the 'canvas' for various 'taggers' to
decorate with their cans of spray paint.
Our final destination this day is the Museum Karlshorst (photo below) where the German generals signed the unconditional surrender and in so doing, also signed their own death warrants. We spent some time here, then back to the hotel for much needed rest and sleep.
|The room where the German generals
surrender - and their own death warrants.
|Some of the displays outside Karlshorst.|
We enjoyed a walking tour of the various famous places in Berlin including the
(the Brandenburg Gate) and behind it we saw the Adlon Hotel, famous for the many
high-ranking officers of the Third Reich who stayed here - and for Michael
Jackson dangling his baby off the balcony! We visited a museum in the
former basement of Gestapo Headquarters and we went to a still-standing section
of the original Berlin Wall. Naturally we passed the spot where a parking
lot now exists on the site of the Führerbunker (Adolf Hitler's Berlin command
bunker), passed Hermann Göring's former Luftwaffe Headquarters and other
important historical sites in the area.
Precisely at the appointed time, we entered the Reichstag, seat of today's German Government, for our private tour. The tour ended at the top of the building where we were free to look over the railing at the city spread out beneath us, or to walk up into the huge glass dome for an even better look at the city.
|At the entrance to the Reichstag||Looking at the government chambers|
Then it was time for lunch and naturally, in Germany, where do we eat? We
found an Italian pizza restaurant! The food was great, but soon we are on
the march again.
We enjoyed a specially arranged tour of the air raid bunker complex beneath Berlin, still with items left behind by Berliners who did not - or could not - return for them. With the frequent rumble of subway trains above, it gave an eerie feeling of being in the bunker in late 1944 or early 1945 with bombers overhead.
|Deep underground in the former bomb shelters beneath Berlin where people tried to live through the rain of bombs the last months of the war.||If you remember in the middle 1990's, a secret bunker was found called the 'Fahrerbunker' but some confused this with 'Führerbunker', which it was not but the Fahrerbunker was totally untouched after the war and undiscovered until the middle 1990's so everything inside was exactly as it was when the SS guards closed it up as the Soviet Army overran their position. Look at the artwork on these walls; stylized heavenly knights fighting the forces of evil were painted on the actual walls themselves.|
From here our guide brought us to a nicely restored "Flakturm"
(Flak tower) which stood some 40 meters above Berlin for air defense.
Several of the famed 88 anti-aircraft guns were mounted here to shoot down
bombers along with many other guns (20mm and 37mm automatic guns) to protect the
88 gun crews from low flying fighter sweeps. We spent about an hour in
|Our group is getting fitted with hardhats prior to going inside this complex bunker.||Deep inside this World War II Flakbunker that defended Berlin.|
It was time for dinner and of course in Germany - we went to a Chinese
restaurant! The food was great and we pretty well took up the entire
We had a pleasant addition on our bus during the return trip to the hotel - Sharkhunters Member Lt. Col. Art Alphin (6750-2003) (US Army, Ret) gave an excellent dissertation on weapons technology of the era. It was really an excellent talk and we learned a lot.
Some friends were waiting at the hotel for us - Lars Sunn Pedersen (3782-1994) and Aage Jensen (3783-1992), both Members of Sharkhunters since 1994. Aage is the diver who found U-534 in the waters off Denmark, and Lars was the team leader who led the recovery effort to bring the boat up. U-534 now rests in England as a museum. Lars and Aage talked about the finding and the raising of this boat, and they gave each Member a beautiful photo of the boat and of course, they each signed the photos as a gift to our Members there.
Day 8 - This was a very special day! In the morning, we went to a place - a place that is so incredibly secret that we cannot report anything about it or show photos. You'll just have to take our word that this was truly a "Trip into the Tunnel of Time" and is absolutely, definitely, POSITIVELY NOT open to the public. Believe it when we tell you that we REALLY walked in history on this morning.
|Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983) and the
the expedition to the former bunkers of Dönitz.
|The group waiting to walk into history!|
We drove to what was once the command complex of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz
outside of Berlin, code named "Koralle" which means Coral.
There were four man-made lakes that served a dual purpose. They made
the place look like a farm pasture with lakes from the air - and if there was bombing here,
the water in the lakes was used to put out any fires. We had an excellent lunch in the former mess hall, then
went to visit the above-ground bunkers that made up most of this command
complex. It was used by the Soviets after the war for the High Command of
the Soviet Air Force in East Germany and when the Soviet
Union evaporated, they blew up these bunkers before returning to Russia.
|Our friends were waiting to guide
us - they even
had our Flag flying to make us more welcome.
|One of the bunkers.|
|The gate into history - forgotten
but visited by our Sharkhunters "Patrols".
|Another of the remaining bunker buildings.|
CLICK HERE for an impressive photo tour of the bunker complex here at "Koralle" thanks to Mary Myers.
We were given free rein - and a safety warning - to climb all over the bunkers at will, which we certainly did as we see in the photo below left. After about an hour on the above ground bunkers, those of us who were in good physical condition AND had a flashlight, joined some German friends and descended into the deep underground portion of the bunker complex! We could have easily have spent days here, but after about an hour or two we climbed back into the sunshine as Mary Myers is doing here in the photo below right - it was time to board the bus for the return to the hotel.
DAY 9 - Off to another place not normally open to outsiders - the bunker complex at Zossen/Wunsdorf. This was a bunker complex of no less than six hardened above ground bunkers that housed the OKW (German Military High Command) during World War II and after the war, housed the Supreme Command of the Soviet Forces in Germany.
Two of the six hardened command bunkers at Zossen
In Bunker A-3, Operation BARBAROSSA (the invasion of the Soviet Union) was planned by the generals - including Paulus, who later surrendered his entire army to the Soviets. In Bunker A-6, Guderian sat as head of the Army. It was in bunker A-4 where several officers plotted the assassination of Adolf Hitler at his Polish field headquarters, the Wolfsschanze. Hitler was to later call this bunker A-4 the "Schwindlerbunker" or Liar's Bunker. General Wagner, one of the conspirators, committed suicide in this bunker two days after the failed coup.
Who walked through this
blast door...........down these stairs, to avoid an Allied bombing some 70 years
ago? Was it Keitel? Could it have been Jodl? Maybe Guderian?
Even Paulus and Wagner were here - and so too were the 2005 Sharkhunters - walking in the footsteps of
From here, we drove to Seelow Heights, site of a major artillery and armor battle in the closing days of World War II. We stopped for a photo opportunity at this excellent museum.
Off to Fort Gorgast, a fortress that was built in a time vacuum. When construction began, fortresses of this type were successful at holding out against invaders - but by the time it was completed, the advent of higher power gunpowder and rifled guns made such fortresses obsolete, so it was the fate of this one to become a warehouse for munitions. We toured the fortress, then had a splendid lunch catered in as we dined in one of the bunkers (photo below).
Fort Gorgast was intended for the protection of the western Oder River but throughout all political upheavals, Fort Gorgast served only as a rest camp and supply depot. The moat is 3 meters deep (almost 10 feet) and 42 meters wide (about 135 feet), and the excavated material was transported by wheel barrow by detainees from the Sonnenberg Prison, to the top of the vaulted structure. The former East German Army (NVA) was the last military user of this facility, and they stored large quantities of ammunition crates here.
Now our "Patrol" will cross the border into present day Poland, formerly West Prussia. With our bus, we crossed the Oder River into present-day Poland, formerly Prussia. The Chief of Tourism for this area was our guide through the town of Küstrin, where not one stone stands atop another. There is nothing left but basements and deserted streets where once there was a thriving town - here stood the fortress in which Friederich the Great was once imprisoned as a young army officer when he and a friend left the army to play the flute and compose poetry.
The road that leads to............nowhere. After the massive armor and artillery battle, nothing was left standing in Küstrin - nothing left standing above the basements.
2005 Sharkhunters "Patrol" deep under what was once the
fortress/castle at Küstrin.
In the closing moments of World War II, a fierce armor and artillery battle took place here and reduced the entire town to rubble. The Oder River was one of the last natural barriers to the onrushing Red Army and the Wehrmacht tried desperately to hold at all costs. In the face of much superior numbers coupled with the liberal use of Kytusha Rockets (Stalin's Pipe Organ) and heavy guns, the Red Army crossed the Oder quickly and sped onward toward Berlin.
We enjoyed a pleasant dinner at a very nice restaurant in Poland (photo above), then headed back for the hotel and some sleep.
DAY 10 - After several days of seeing sights that overloaded the memories and cameras alike (some on our 'Patrol' took upwards of 2,000 photos!), we awoke to a leisurely breakfast and checked out of the hotel for the ride across upper Germany to our four-star hotel in Bremen. Once checked in, we found a fresh fruit basket in our rooms, then all were at leisure to enjoy the area. Some took the convenient city bus for about ten minutes into the center of this ancient city for sightseeing and souvenir buying. Others went to one of the nice restaurants within a couple blocks of the hotel while still others found seats at the hotel bar.
His overall comments on this "Patrol", David Savadyga (1020-LIFE-1989 (the Bear) wrote:
"I liked having the free time in Hamburg and what I liked best was a toss up between being inside the Berlin flak tower and the bunkers/tunnels we were in."
Here are some random photos of sights and places we have enjoyed in Germany.
|Ottenshof near Wewelsburg||The canals in Hamburg|
|At the Navy Base - Wilhelmshaven||Bunker VALENTIN|
|Soviet Memorial at Küstrin||Air Cadets at Wunstorf|
We departed for the scenic ride through the German countryside to Wewelsburg
Castle where we were met by our friend and Sharkhunters Member, Thorsten, who is an honest historian working
on his Masters Degree in history. He gave us an excellent in-depth tour of
this castle where Heinrich Himmler intended to resurrect the Knights of the
Teutonic Order. We visited the ceremonial room where the meetings were to
have taken place - then we entered a place not normally open to visitors - the
underground crypt where the young SS officers took their oath of loyalty.
The acoustics are so good that if you are standing in the center of the domed
crypt, your slightest whisper thunders off the walls for all to hear. It
is not a place to tell secrets! The cameras were snapping like crazy this
day! (photo below)
When asked what was his best memory of the entire "Patrol", Dan Houser (6978-2005) didn't waste any words - he merely wrote "Wewelsburg!" Guess that says it all.
When asked his best memory of the entire "Patrol", he wrote:
"Listening to the young guide (Thorsten Biene 7007-2005) at Wewelsburg and visiting Dönitz's bunker, and meeting those nice folks (our guides there)."
From the castle, it was a short walk to the restaurant - a centuries-old place that was used as a recreation room for SS officers during the war. There we saw the professionally carved division insignias, swastika and runes still on the walls, booths and chairs. The cameras were REALLY clicking here! As promised, we went down into the former HJ Keller (Hitler Youth Cellar) and it was here that the Hitler Youth had their meetings and meals during the time of the Third Reich. It has been maintained exactly as it was in those days (photos below), and it was here that we enjoyed our lunch with dozens of candles burning as they did 65 or 70 years ago. We were in the footsteps of history!
|A part of the former Hitler Jugend
Keller where the HJ had their
meetings and evening meals. It has been preserved exactly as it
was in the 1930's and early 1940's, and it was all ours! The food
was beyond great, and we did indeed, travel through a time tunnel!
|"Fast" Eddie Hogan (6979-2005),
Captain USN (Ret.)
stands by the toasty fireplace in the HJ Keller.
On our return drive, we stopped at the Externsteine (photo below), a very unusual natural rock
formation that served as a trade gate many, many centuries ago. There was
also an observatory built at the top thousands of years ago by.............we
Tombs have been hand-hewn into the solid rock, and the Roman Army left their marks on the rocks as well.
We visited the U-Boat-Archive (photo below left), a truly amazing place. The founder, Horst Bredow is a Charter Member of Sharkhunters (21-1983) but he was away on holiday, so another Member, Jak Mallmann Showell (73-1984), author of many U-Boat books, gave us the tour of this facility. While we were there, a fine gentleman arrived to visit with us (photo below). He was the radioman aboard U-604 under Höltring until that boat was sunk, then he served as radioman aboard U-873 under Fritz Steinhoff until that boat was surrendered to the U.S. at the end of the war. He told us his history, in excellent English, and never tired of answering questions. Jak sold dozens of his books, hand-signed of course, and the radioman also signed autographs for all. We were reluctant to leave, but there was more to see this day.
Our bus rolled into Bremerhaven and we dispersed for lunch.
Several of us enjoyed a great lunch in the hold of an old sailing ship built in the
USA in 1919, now converted into a very nice floating restaurant.
At the appointed time of 1400 hours, we met at the only Type XXI "Electroboot" left in the world (photo above right), and we took our time touring the boat. The Type XXI was such a quantum leap forward from all other submarine designs of the time that, at the end of the war, the victorious Allied navies tripped over one another to get the Type XXI boats that were completed as well as all the technology to build similar submarines in their own country. The Russian WHISKEY and the French DAPHNE Class submarines were direct copies of the Type XXI and not to be left out, the British and U.S. Navies also built copies.
DAY 13 - We arrived to visit the beautifully restored JU 52 (photo below) that took part in the Norway Action of April 1940 and was raised from a Norwegian lake and restored about ten years ago. We found many of our friends waiting for us. They included:
Dr. (Law) Hans-Georg Hess (125-LIFE-1985),
Skipper of U-995 and holder of the Knights Cross;
Dr. (Law) Christian Reauleaux (459-1988), officer aboard the cruiser NÜRNBERG;
Walter Tegtmeier (1221-1989), U-Boat veteran;
Gerhard Dietrich (5923-LIFE-1999), Oberfeuerwerker with von Mannstein's forces;
Juliane Hess (621-1988), Dr. Hess' daughter
and Tilman Hess (5817-LIFE-1999), Dr. Hess' son.
"Alte Tante Ju" or 'Old Aunt Junkers' as she was called
We spent a couple hours in this beautiful museum, then went to the ancestral home of General Scharnhorst, hero of the Napoleonic Wars. He was born in this house and it is today owned by descendants of his family - it is NOT open to the public - this is a special visit arranged only for Sharkhunters. We were joined there by Herr Kottmann, the Präsident of the Scharnhorst Foundation. He told us a great deal about this General and his life.
from the left: Greg Thatcher
|The home in which General Scharnhorst was
born, raised and lived in.
Good friends together again in Germany!
|left - Oberfeuerwerker Gerhard Dietrich (5923-LIFE-1999)
right - Sharkhunters President Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983)
For lunch we naturally had this outstanding soup that has been prepared in this
kitchen since the time of General Scharnhorst - it was his favorite. It is so
thick and tasty,
it is almost a stew and has been served to German armies from the time of the
Napoleonic Wars up to today because it is so hearty. The Sharkhunters
record of seven bowls of this soup, set a few years ago by Member Phil Waite
was not in danger of being broken this day.
"Yesterday's Enemies are Today's Friends"
That is the quote given to Sharkhunters many years ago by our good friend Hans-Georg Hess (125-LIFE-1985). This photo clearly shows the meaning of these words as opposing warriors of World War II meet in friendship.
Walter Tegtmeier (1221-LIFE-1989), German U-Bootfahrer;
John Hanniford (6945-2005) U. S. Navy submarine sailor;
Gerhard Dietrich (5923-LIFE-1999) Chief artillereyman with von Mannstein's forces
Captain Eddie Hogan (6979-2005) U.S. Navy minesweeper Skipper
Oberleutnant z.S. Hans-Georg Hess (125-LIFE-1985), German U-Boat Skipper (Knights Cross).
Our bus rolled on and took us to an outstanding Luftwaffe Museum where they proudly display many aircraft of many eras, but their most impressive exhibits are the beautifully restored Me 109 and the FW-190, the plane that Hermann Göring called the 'Butcher Bird'. We were allowed - encouraged actually, to go all around these planes and take as many photos as we wanted......and we sure did!
It was a quiet ride back to the hotel as everyone realized that this dream, this adventure, this look into the past was about to end - this was our last day, our final evening. We met for one final drink in the hotel bar at 1800 hours - there were tears, handshakes and promises to remain in contact.
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