Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
German U-Boat Commanders of World War II - A Biographical Dictionary
By Rainer Busch and Hans-Joachim Roll
Greenhill Books (
ISBN 9781853673665
RRP GBP £39.99

The history of the German Kriegsmarine during the Second World War is legendary. It is famous for both its surface battles and its notorious submarine service. Probably the exploits of the submarine branch or U-Boats as they were commonly termed are perhaps the most dramatic.

The U-Boats almost starved the UK to submission during the Battle of the Atlantic and even the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill commented on their successes. At one stage the losses of Allied shipping to the U-Boats far outstripped the capacity of the Allies to replace them.

Initially the U-Boats were very successful but improved technology and tactics by the Allies saw the U-Boat losses mount. Indeed it became one of the highest casualty ratio branches of the entire German Wehrmacht (Armed Forces).

This outstanding reference volume lists the service histories of the 1,411 officers of the German Kriegsmarine who had the opportunity and honour to command one of these famous vessels. All the officers commanding a U-Boat from the U-1 commissioned in June 1935 to the surrender of the final U-Boat (U-977) in August 1945 are detailed. These officers represented the cream of the Kriegsmarine and this volume acknowledges and honours their memory.

For each of the commanding officers there are details on their date of birth, their highest rank attained, decorations received, a summary of his service record and their ultimate fate. Many of these commanders were killed in action or taken prisoner. Those who were taken as Prisoners of War or surrendered at the end of the war were usually interned as “militarists”. Often they had to serve years of post-war internment and interrogated by the Allies.

In addition to giving biographical details on the commanders there is an index giving a numerical list of U-Boats and their commanders. This aid helps finding the commander of a specific U-Boat at a given time. If you need to identify the commanding officer of a U-Boat then this index is the place to look.

The majority of the book is devoted to listing biographic details of commanding officers and details of their service records. The usefulness of this volume cannot be underestimated and it is certainly going to become the standard reference on these U-Boat commanding officers. One cannot recommend this book too highly. A “congratulations” is due to the authors for producing this outstanding volume on these officers and their boats.

January 2012