As always, 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.
Friday 20 September – We began our tour a bit differently this year than in previous years. We felt that it would be better to have a few days at the beginning of the tour that were not quite so busy. That way we could recover from our “jet lag” and thereby have more fun. The folks in our group met each other and had a relaxing day before going to our ‘Welcome Dinner’ where we were joined by Captains GÜNTHER HEINRICH & MATTHIAS BRÜNIG as well as VOLKMAR KÖNIG, the midshipman from U-99 under OTTO KRETSCHMER and also our good friend MARIANNE GRAP, widow of WILLIE GRAP who rode U-506. As always, we had a great evening with many war stories, and making new friends. After the evening’s festivities, we all slowly walked back to our hotel in the soft Hamburg night, with stops at sidewalk cafes along the way.
|Captain HEINRICH||VOLKMAR KÖNIG||Professor BRÜNIG|
Saturday 21 September – Professor BRÜNIG, former Skipper of U-108 and training Skipper, escorted us on a great tour of Hamburg where we saw the place on Große Freiheit where the Beatles actually got their start. Yes, they were from Liverpool, England – but they were first ‘discovered‘ playing in this Hamburg nightclub. Some of our group thought there should be some sort of historic marker or even a monument here…
Prof. BRÜNIG took us through some of the centuries-old apartment buildings where the common workers lived, and he also took us along beautiful Lake Alster where we saw the homes of the wealthy. He showed us sections of this city not normally seen by tourists.
Sunday 22 September – A new addition to our ‘Patrol in North Germany‘ was the fischmarkt, but only for the early risers. We departed our hotel for the short walk to the riverfront where the fish market takes place each Sunday. The name is mis-leading. While this weekly event did begin as merely a place for the fishermen to bring their catch for sale to the locals, it has grown into much more. It stretches for more than a mile along the riverfront, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of venders selling just about everything you could want – it is indeed, a flohmarkt or in English, a flea market. There are silk scarves, stuffed teddy bears, shirts, sweaters, flowers, bumper stickers and who knows what else and as we get to the far end of the facility, there’s an indoor arena where vendors are selling many different kinds of breakfast dishes and of course, a loud band – playing American Rock ‘N Roll songs of the 1950’s. Most of us stayed perhaps two hours, then back to the hotel for s short while.Many of these buildings still stand today, and we saw the churches, warehouses, hotels etc from 300 years ago.
After relaxing for some hours in our hotel and as always during our ‘Patrol in North Germany’, we walked to the harborfront for our two-hour harbor tour. Several veterans were already with us for this tour, which is a great icebreaker and a nice time on the water looking at a historic old city.
Monday 23 September – Our bus was punctually on time as always, but this time it was not our regular driver Thorsen at the wheel, but his father. It was his father who drove us on our ‘Patrol‘ some years ago when we were in Berlin on the day of reunification.
Our first stop was the Marine Ehrenmal (Navy Memorial) where we were met by VOLKMAR KÖNIG and JULIANNE HESS, daughter of our dear friend HANS-GEORG HESS. On these grounds, there is a plaque honoring the 52 American submarines and the 3,505 Americans who were lost on submarines in World War II. Naturally, there is a magnificent building and memorial hall for the German sailors who were lost in combat. The view from atop this great building is breathtaking, and one can see for miles from up there.
Naturally, we had a great tour of U-995, the only Type VII-C boat left in the world. It is great that the DMB (the Deutsche Marine Bund or German Navy League) managed to save and preserve this submarine, as it is the only one of more than six hundred originally made, left in the world. SHARKHUNTERS has sent some $6,500 in donations over the years.
We visit the Memorial Chamber of the U-Boot-Ehrenmal
It is a sad and emotional place, but a place of great honor!
After a leisurely lunch at our favorite place, we drove to the U-Boot-Ehrenmal, the Submarine Memorial, where we conducted a Memorial Service. In addition to the U-Boat veterans who came with us, we were met by men of the U/K-Kiel, the U-Boat Veterans Association of Kiel.
Tuesday 24 September – With Professor BRÜNIG aboard our bus, we set out for a beautiful sightseeing tour of Hamburg, on our way to the fantastic naval museum of Peter Tamm. 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.
There are a lot of new items to see in this museum, including a one-man U-Boat and now there is also a two-man U-Boat. Just a week or so prior to our arrival, Peter Tamm was confirmed as Honorary Professor of History.
In the countryside, we met with MARIANNE GRAP, and she had all sorts of souvenirs for our group – tie tacks, scarves, lapel pins etc. all with the emblem of the VDU, or German Submariner’s Association. We enjoyed lunch at a beautiful centuries-old German restaurant, then it was time to pay our respects to the Grossadmiral.
We 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 boat in the English Channel…….on his 24th birthday. Our friend H-J von KNEBEL DOBERITZ, who had been with us the year before, has now begun his ‘Eternal Patrol‘ and we remembered him as well. von KNEBEL had been the Aide-de-Camp of Grossadmiral Dönitz and later he was I.W.O. on U-99 under OTTO KRETSCHMER.
We placed flowers on the grave of the Grossadmiral and there were words of honor spoken. Professor BRÜNIG had tears in his eyes during this time……..he worked closely with the Grossadmiral in the war years.
Late in the afternoon, we checked into our Four-Star hotel in Bremen and to our surprise, we were met there by our friend Captain ‘Hai‘ MAßMANN. He was with us for about two hours and signed autographs and photos.
Captain MAßMANN on the bridge of his boat, U-409
“Hai’ is the German word for SHARK.
After a pleasant dinner in the evening, to bed between crisp white sheets.
Wednesday 25 September – We are on the bus at 0800, heading for the old city of Hannover, where we are met at the Rathaus by TILMAN HESS. Rathaus is the German word for city hall – where else would one find politicians but in the rat house? Okay, bad joke – but that was the consensus of opinions. As TILMAN was telling us about the history of Hannover, we were joined by his father HANS-GEORG HESS, Skipper of U-995 and the youngest combat submarine commander of World War II and possibly ever; and HANNES ESKEN, Luftwaffe Major.
|Oberleutnant z.S. d.R. HESS||GERD DIETRICH|
We walked out from the Rathaus along the ‘Red Thread’. This is a red line painted along the sidewalks and streets in Hannover, giving an easy-to-follow sightseeing route. With TILMAN doing the narration, it really brought this ancient city to life. We enjoyed lunch at the vast ‘Markthalle’, or the market hall which was a huge indoor mall.
After lunch, our bus took us to the Luftwaffe Museum where we are met by our friend GÜNTHER LEONHARD, founder and director of this great museum. The Museum was ours for the afternoon, closed to the public and we began with a champagne meeting, courtesy of the Luftwaffe Museum and Sharkhunters. We were joined by our friend GERD DIETRICH, a cannoneer (Oberfeuerwerker actually) who fought with von Manstein’s forces in the Crimea. GERD and his wife brought other veterans with them, and all were happy to sign autographs and GERD brought some books for the members of our group.
|FW 190 In The Luftwaffe Museum||At the head of the grave||Two Enigma Machines, one is a three|
wheel, the other has four
“I rate this tour FOUR STARS!” that is what Eric Matthews wrote about his time on our Patrol. He has been with us before and enjoyed seeing old friends again. What about you? Plan to be with us on another ‘Patrol in Germany‘ in 2003, our 20th Anniversary year.
When we were in Hamburg…
|At the Fischmarkt, which is really a giant flea market||The “Fab Four” got their start right here||Our pleasant cruise on Hamburg’s canals|
Thursday 26 September – One of the more relaxing things on our ‘Patrols‘ is our visit to Steinhuder Meer, the lake on which the first German submarine was tested several centuries ago at the fortress Wilhelmstein. After a slow, leisurely sail across the glass-smooth lake, we arrived at the island and all went ashore to visit this well-maintained castle. We had refreshments there at the little snack shop, then boarded the boat again and sailed across the lake to the shore, where we always have a treat for the collectors in our group.
We walked a short way to a very special shop, run by a friend there, who sells antiques, jewelry, and other such knick-knacks …until we arrive, then he pulls special items out from his back room. These are all real artifacts from the Third Reich for those of our Members who are serious collectors.
Naturally, we then visited with Ingrid, the descendant of General Scharnhorst at the family estate, and we again had some of the tremendous pea soup she serves us. There were plenty of sausages and bread to go with it. We feel like we are at home here. This day was arranged for us by our friend, Luftwaffe Major HANNES ESKEN.
We ended the afternoon with a visit to ‘Alte Tante Ju‘ which means ‘Old Aunt Ju‘ and that refers to a JU 52 transport plane that has been salvaged from a lake in Norway and fully restored – it is superb! At this museum, there are also many other airplanes, helicopters, support vehicles, uniforms etc to view.
|Photo on the left is JULIANNE HESS with her father’s|
boat in the background, next is VOLKMAR KÖNIG
who rode U-99 under KRETSCHMER, then American
submarine veteran BILL BEITEL and his wife Marianne.
|Center photo is the U-Boot-Ehrenmal|
with the new eagle atop. Perhaps
the $6,500 that SHARKHUNTERS
has sent to this beautiful Memorial
helped a little to pay for it.
|Photo right is the entryway|
into the Memorial with just
some of the many wreaths.
Photos below shot at the fantastic Museum of Peter Tamm
|The Admiralstab of Großadmiral Erich Raeder||The AdmiralStab of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz|
|our friends Luftwaffe Major|
HANNES ESKEN and
youngest combat submarine
Skipper of World War II and
holder of the Knights Cross.
|Hannover Rathaus (city hall)||The champagne reception in the Luftwaffe Museum.|
HARRY COOPER, GÜNTHER LEONHARD, HANS-GEORG HESS and
our guide. Several Luftwaffe veterans joined us.
Friday 27 September – Our bus takes us to Wilhelmshaven where we are met by our friend GERD THÄTER, Skipper of U-466 and U-3506, and some of his friends, also U-Bootfahrer…..including one who rode U-24, one of the Type II-B boats in the Black Sea Fleet. We had lunch with these veterans, then headed off to the Wilhelmshaven Naval Base, where we looked at the frigates and support ships in the harbor – not open to visitors normally, since 9/11 due to increased security. We were allowed to photograph whatever we liked.
After our visit to the Navy Base, we headed into Wilhelmshaven for a tour of this beautiful old German naval city, and then we toured a 206A Class submarine, a minesweeper and other ships at a well maintained museum.
When our tour of the Navy Base and the submarine etc. was finished, we returned to the little restaurant for a couple more hours of fellowship with GERD and his friends where they freely told of their time in the war, they signed autographs – and GERD gave everyone a hand-signed photo of himself. It was a great day.
|The beautifully restored Ju-52||Inside Ju-52||GERD THÄTER, another Skipper (Günther|
Prieß) and a crewman, Black Sea Fleet
|We visited these ships & toured this 206A Class submarine||Tour of Wilhelmshaven Navy Base||Bunkers everywhere|
Saturday 28 September – We began our morning at the U-Boot-Archiv where the founder and Director, our friend HORST BREDOW, showed us around with great pride. Naturally, there wasn’t nearly enough time to see all but it was a wonderful overview. We were joined by several German U-Boat veterans and one French submarine veteran. Again, all shared their memories of the time in the war and signed autographs. BREDOW gave a short talk to our group in which he said that only his Archiv and Sharkhunters bring forth the true history of the U-Bootwaffe, and that the others, the Uboat.net in particular, were “nonsense makers” in his words. We agree.
Off to Bremerhaven for lunch – and our visit aboard U-2540, the only Type XXI boat left in the world. It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny, so most of our group ate at an outdoors cafe then enjoyed walking in the park along the riverfront.
Back to our hotel for a rest and a clean-up in time for our Farewell Dinner. This was one of the best we have ever had, and our guests included TILMAN HESS, GERD DIETRICH and his wife, and a friend of Gerd’s who is a retired Oberst (Colonel) in the Bundswehr who appeared in uniform, and gave a stirring talk about how the German Government and the German people need to stop apologizing and move forward to ensure world peace. This is also the saddest part of our ‘Patrols‘ because it means that in the morning, we all depart to our homes in other places.
Memories at the Farewell Dinner…
|Phil Brown, the Beitels, Harry Cooper||Our guest, the Oberst and his wife||Cooper, Ria David, Tilman Hess|