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Vet 339

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans


Kriegsmarine, Minesweepers

GÜNTER DIETRICH served aboard minesweepers and had a relatively quiet time in the war until the end. His boat and squadron swept mines in harbors in the east and it was only in the last months of the war that they came under heavy fire.  The Red Army was sweeping in from the east and on several occasions, they came under heavy fire from artillery that had moved up in the night to begin shelling the German units in the harbors.  Harbor by harbor, they withdrew to the west until they were in German ports on the Baltic in the closing days of the war.

So many U-Boats, minesweepers, S-Boats, R-Boats …anything that could move under its own power, was making a dash across the Baltic with the ultimate goal in Norway. This was the only place where the German military was yet unchallenged and they hoped to regroup there. It was not to be.

His minesweeper was with a group of units that had pulled into Copenhagen Harbor to replenish fuel for the onward journey. However, the surrender order came and all units were told that the war was over and they were ordered to remain where they were until some Allied unit would arrive and take them into custody.

GÜNTER was standing watch in the mid-afternoon when a German officer ran up to his boat – the Knights Cross at his throat was glistening in the sun.  He told GÜNTER that he must speak with the Skipper …GÜNTER said that his German was heavily loaded with a French accent.  He called the Skipper on deck and the officer spoke quietly with him, then the two went below into the Skipper’s little cabin.  This officer was wearing a woolen sweater, so it was not possible for GÜNTER to know his rank or unit.

GÜNTER was surprised when, about midnight, the engines of his minesweeper rumbled to life, the Skipper quietly ordered the lines cast off, and the little craft quietly slid out of the harbor.  Once out of the harbor, they went to full speed, flying across the water toward Norway.

It was light by the time they reached Trondheim and as they secured to the dock, a group was waiting for this officer They hurried him into a waiting car and sped to the airfield where a transport plane was waiting to whisk him to Spain and freedom from those who would have given him a mock trial and executed him.  The officer whom GÜNTER help to save was

degrelle1aThe officer he helped save was none other than SS Standartenführer LEON deGRELLE (1835-1991)!

GÜNTER emigrated to the US in the 1950’s, became a citizen and owned a jewelry shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. When Sharkhunters President HARRY COOPER 1-LIFE-1983 was moving to Florida, his wife KAY COOPER 161-LIFE-1986 was pregnant and her fingers had swelled, causing a ring to become painfully tight. They looked for a jeweler to cut the ring off – and they met GÜNTER.

When deGRELLE became a Member in 1991, COOPER put the two men in contact with each other and a friendship was born between them.