These photos were sent to us by Otto Kretschmer.

Otto Kretschmer was such a huge man on the stage of World War II and indeed, of submarine history itself.  For that reason, we will not go into all the small details of his life and his accomplishments because there probably would not be enough space in the file.  Here is a small part of his history.

1 May 1912 - Born in Heidau, Liegnitz;
          Public School (Realgymnasium) education
1929 - University studies in Great Britain;
1930/1931 - Naval Cadet, round-the-world cruise aboard cruiser EMDEN.  His training  
                  officer was Jürgen Wattenberg (Sharkhunters Member #154-+-1985), the
                  Captain of the cruiser was the greatest submariner of all time Lother Arnaud
                  de le Perierre and one of his fellow cadets was Joachim Schepke.

Otto Kretschmer at the ceremony to           The crew of U-99 after another successful
   officially dedicate the "Kretschmer            Feindfahrt (war patrol).  Note the beards
   Marsch".  He is holding the document          and especially the neatly trimmed goatee
   under his arm along with the flowers           of Kretschmer (behind the deck gun).
  given to him by Fraulein von Ribbentrop.

                       These photos were sent to us by Otto Kretschmer.

During the world cruise of the Fleet when OTTO and Schepke were classmates in training, they went out of their way to play jokes on Wattenberg.  The underwear issued by the German Navy was not well liked by the cadets, so OTTO and Schepke went aboard an American ship in an anchorage and bought US Navy skivvies.  Somehow Wattenberg heard of this and during one inspection, he ordered OTTO to drop his trousers and, seeing the USN boxer shorts he was wearing, told his aide to note that "Otto Kretschmer is wearing sport trunks under his uniform."

During a courtesy stop in a port, one of OTTO's midshipmen friends had to report aboard a Japanese battleship.  He was panicked!  He asked OTTO what should he say.  OTTO told him to merely look serious and formal, and to count in German, "Ein und Dreisig, Zwei und Dreisig!"   He felt so much better, but on returning on board EMDEN, he told OTTO that when he said "Ein und Dreisig, Zwei und Dreisig!", the Japanese officer merely smiled and said, "Drei und Dreisig, Fir und Dreisig..........." and continued the count in German!  He had been schooled in Germany.

1932/1933 - Midshipman, German Naval Academy, Flensburg/Mürwik;
1933/1934 - Service as Gunnery Officer aboard battleship DEUTSCHLAND
               then 2nd Torpedo Officer aboard cruiser KÖLN;

   The Indienstellung (commissioning) of U-99        The famed Golden Horseshoe is
   Kretschmer is second from right below.               screwed to the tower by crew.

                       These photos were sent to us by Otto Kretschmer.

1936/1937 - Submarine School as Lt. (jg)
                     then I.W.O. aboard U-35;
1937/1940 - Commanding Officer of U-23;
1940/1941 - Commanding Officer of U-99;

is photo was sent to us by Otto Kretschmer.

4 August 1940 - Decorated with the
Knights Cross;
4 November 1940 - Decorated with the
Oak Leaf;
26 December 1941 - Decorated with the

1941/1947 - Prisoner of War in Great Britain and Canada;
1948/1952 - Studied Law at Kiel University and passed the state examination;

  Otto explains tactics to me      Otto is showing me something         More of his writings.

I spent some days with the Kretschmers in their home in Emden in 1989.  They had a room for me and treated me as family.  These photos taken by Mrs. Kretschmer.

1953/1955 - President, German Navy League (DMB);
1955 - Joined the Federal German Navy as Commander;
1956/1957 - Commander, 1st Escort Squadron;
1957/1958 - Orientation Course, Amphibious Training, U.S. Pacific Fleet;
1958/1961 - Staff Officer, Fleet Command
                       Commander, Amphibious Forces with the rank of Kapitän zur See
                       Type Commander, Submarines;
1962/1963 - Director of Fleet Training and Exercises Bundsmarine in Bonn;
1963/1964 - NATO Defense College Course #24 in Paris;


OTTO had a great sense of humor, but he sometimes had a short we see in the photo above right, we were feeding the cygnets (those are baby swans to the uninformed) in the canal behind the Kretschmer's home.  The two parent swans were just out of camera here and OTTO's little schnauzer named Juli came racing down at the edge of the water, barking furiously at the cygnets in an effort to frighten them and establish this as his territory.  Pappa Swan wasn't going to allow this little fuzzball to intimidate his babes and he came out of the canal like a rocket, wings spread out about seven feet and flapping wildly as his large, webbed feet tore into OTTO's lawn, and he was headed for Juli at high speed!  Realizing that he couldn't outrun this huge bird, Juli began to run circles around OTTO and myself with Papa Swan in hot pursuit - both of them throwing mud, water and torn up grass all over us.  OTTO lost his temper!  Yelling something in German at Juli (I'll bet it wasn't "Good Doggie!"), OTTO began throwing the bread rolls at Juli and due to the high speed of the animal combatants, usually smacking Papa Swan with the rolls.  Papa Swan soon tired of running in circles and getting pelted with bread rolls meant for this yappy schnauzer, and he returned to the water while OTTO was still yelling at Juli, who was now slinking away toward the house.

During my visit to the Kretschmer home in Emden, Otto reads the daily newspaper and Mrs. Kretschmer feeds the swans in the canal behind their lovely home.  I took these photos.  During this time, Mrs. Kretschmer told me that she had been married to a doctor who had served in the Afrika Korps and he had been killed in action.  She said she knew she could never again meet a man so fine as this one, then her eyes misted up and she smiled and said:
             "Then I met 'Silent Otto'!"
The look in her eyes said it all..........

1964 - Chief of Staff, German Naval Forces North Sea;
1965 - Rear Admiral, Chief of Staff, Allied Naval Forces Baltic Approaches.

           During a visit in 1994, Otto is explaining
           additional tactics to our group.

There is no doubt that Otto Kretschmer was the best combat submarine Skipper of any navy in World War II.  His daily tonnage average was about the same as Lothar Arnaud de la Perierre, the greatest submarine Skipper of all time.

But Otto Kretschmer was much more than that - he was one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  He was a man among men.

3 August 1998 - While celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary on a river cruise on the 
     Donau (Danube) River, Otto and Mrs. Kretschmer were going below - and he slipped!  As  
     he fell, he struck his head and was rendered unconscious.  He was rushed to a hospital in 
     München where he remained in a coma for two days and on 5 August, he began his "Eternal 
     Patrol".  I spoke to Mrs. Kretschmer a week or so afterwards and she said:
            "He loved you Harry, and he knew that you loved him too."

Otto Kretschmer was a dear friend and has been sadly missed.

Just two years later, in late August 2000, Mrs. Kretschmer passed away and joined her beloved "Silent Otto".

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