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On the Bridge of U-48
Born on 28 September 1905 in Wilhelmshaven, RÖSING was in Naval Class 1924. He ultimately commanded U-48 and was decorated with the Knights Cross.
RÖSING initially was posted to U-11 in 1936 and by the time war began, he was Commander of the 5th U-Bootflottille in Kiel. For reasons most U-Boat Skippers are still trying to figure out, the "skids were greased" for a rapid rise for RÖSING and he was posted to U-48, a battle hardened U-Boat with a highly trained crew - AND an I.W.O. second to none at the time - 'Teddy' Suhran. In two Feindfahrten (war patrols) he sank a dozen ships for a total of 60,917 tons and damaged a couple more. His Knights Cross confirmation was already confirmed before he returned from his second and final Feindfahrt - some U-Boot Skippers and crew feel that the posting to the highly successful and well trained U-48 was merely a vehicle to quickly give him this award.
Großadmiral Karl Dönitz posted RÖSING to Bordeaux where the 12th U-Bootflottille was based. This flotilla was comprised mostly of the big German U-Boats such as the Type X-B and IX-D2 long range submarines as well as the Italian submarine, all of which were also quite large. These boats were mainly used for transport work around the Cape of Good Hope, through the Indian Ocean and to the Japanese held islands in the Pacific. RÖSING was assigned to the Staff of Admiral Perona, the Commander of the Italian submarines in the hope that there would be better cooperation between the German and Italian submarine efforts.
RÖSING was finally posted back to Lorient where he became FdU/Öst (Commander of the U-Boat Flotillas in the west) which consisted of the flotillas based at Brest, Lorient, St. Nazaire, La Rochelle and Bordeaux. He held this post from 1942 until the end of the war and for whatever reasons, he was very unpopular with most U-Boat Skippers.
Two reasons appear to be uppermost in the conversations I've had with veterans.
The great Otto Kretschmer told me that when the Allies were encircling the French bases, RÖSING ordered all the U-Boats to make for the bases at Norway - but he ordered that they all depart on the surface in the outdated battleship 'line astern' formation. This made the boats easy prey to the Royal Air Force Coastal Command who decimated the boats on their surfaced voyage through the Bay of Biscay.
Probably the biggest and most-often heard complaint has to do with the court martial of Oskar Kusch. Kusch took over a new U-Boat and as with ships and shore installations of any military, the leader's photograph was in the boat. It is reported that Kusch took down the photo of Hitler and stated something to the fact that his boat would not be politically motivated or words to that effect. His I.W.O., a radical party man, turned him in to RÖSING who not only brought court martial charges against Kusch, but reportedly rammed them through with the full knowledge and intention that Kusch should receive a death penalty. In the end, that is precisely what happened - Kusch was found guilty and shot.
When Germany was allowed by the victorious Allies to have a submarine navy again, RÖSING was one of the three-man panel to screen and interview returning Kriegsmarine officers who wanted to join the new Bundsmarine. Because (now) Rear Admiral RÖSING was to be part of the upper echelon of the Bundsmarine, many highly qualified officers turned to other careers rather than re-enter a navy under him.
The foregoing notwithstanding, RÖSING has his good qualities. Some years after the war, he was skiing with a beautiful companion and somehow they were trapped in the snow and the cold. It would have been easy for him to abandon his injured companion, but he did not - he carried her to safety but the resultant frostbite cost RÖSING most of his fingers.
He was always helpful to Sharkhunters and when he met with our group in the mid-1990's, he signed autographs for our group despite having no fingers.
HANS-RUDOLF RÖSING is a man whose life and history will probably forever be shrouded in achievements, accusations and controversy.
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