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Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

Article about: Steve: Thanks for the follow-up on Mont Alto. It looks like Prusse was probably the engineer superintendent of construction on both the Deutschland and the Bremen. His official designation i

  1. #221

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Nope, havent been around to see him yet.
    Truth be told, the vet was rather frail and I didnt want to tire him with gun talk.
    His war stories alone were very interesting.
    The subject of a sale never came up.
    Had I seen the handgun(s), I would of course have paid fair market price, had that ever been an issue.

  2. #222

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model


    I do not think the Deutschland even carried a pistol on board. Dwight would know better. It did carry a rifle type gun for launching ropes from ship to ship. I would love to see a picture of it. Those types of guns could be real works of art. German U-boats were issued naval P08s that had longer barrels. After the war any that were left in Germany had to have the barrels shorted due to the armistice requirements. Most that are around now were war trophies. They command the highest of price (several thousand dollars depending on the condition) at the gun shows in Pennsylvania. A company called Stoger, I believe, made them in stainless steel back in the 1970s or 1980s. I bought one at a gun show two years ago because of my interest in German U-boats. The gun is a 9 mm and I can hit an 8.5”x 11” sheet of paper at 50 yards, it is very accurate and a pleasure to shoot. I will post a picture of it with its holster someday.

    If someone found a hand gun that was on the Deutschland (or any German WW l U-boat) and could prove it, the price would be in the 5 digit category depending on condition and documentation. The same goes for the rifle I talked about earlier.

    STBALTIMORE I wish you the best on the flag that would be an amazing find. Heck, I would love to have a modern copy. By the way, I have done some checking to have a coin stamped with something for the Deutschland centennial it will cost about $450 for the dies to be made, then about $5 per brass coin.


  3. #223

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Possibility #1: The Bremen Struck a Mine.


    Back in 2008 you were kind enough to translate the following passage for me:

    While the Deutschland’s triumphant return was being celebrated, the Bremen’s loss was already a sad certainty for a tight circle of insiders. It had been too long since there was any word from the second cargo U-boat. Other than informing Captain König, the Bremen’s loss was held in strictest secrecy. Initially there was hope that radio failure had simply prevented the boat from reporting, but that hope quickly faded.

    There was, however, no report that the British had sunk her and North German Lloyd agents in neutral countries were directed to closely examine the newspapers for any information. They found nothing. One could be sure that had the British sunk her, they would have publicized it widely to offset the surge in national pride that the Deutschland’s successful round trip had created in Germany. The Deutschland had also tarnished the Royal Navy’s image and shaken the British public’s confidence in the blockade. Postwar investigations in the British archives failed to find any reference to a Royal Navy vessel even sighting the U-boat, much less sinking her.
    The Bremen was officially listed as verschollen—missing and presumed lost without trace. It was almost nine months after she left that her loss was reported to the crew’s families, and in the official condolence letters the families were told there was no hope of any of the crew returning and they were to make no mention of the Boat’s loss to anyone. The secrecy remained in place until the United States entered the war.

    The Seeamt Bremen (Sea office, Bremen) launched an investigation to determine what might have happened. Capt. Franz Schwartzkopf, Engineer Bernd Schwadtke, and the entire crew were hand-picked, and without exception possessed Class A certificates. The quality of the Bremen’s crew was no less than that of the Deutschland. Human error was therefore eliminated as a cause of the boat’s loss. Obviously there was a possibility that the Bremen had stuck an anchored or a floating mine on her way from the North Sea to the Atlantic. On the other hand, the explosion would have produced some floating wreckage or debris. None was ever found.

    That left only the possibility that a technical defect caused her loss. After all, there was a weak point. On her first crossing the Deutschland had experienced a problem in the North Sea. During a crash dive the hydrodynamic forces caused the boat to dive down sharply and her bow rammed the seabed. Fortunately the contact with the seabed did little damage to the boat. Still, it was a terrifying and dangerous situation. König was unable to explain what had happened, and it is possible that the Bremen suffered the same experience in deep water or over a stony seabed.
    The Sea office examined all the details from the time of the Bremen’s construction, to the area of her probable loss. There was nothing found in the construction nor in the personnel records that pointed to a weak spot. The engine logbooks and her sea trial logs showed that everything functioned correctly. There were no problems during her test and training cruises. The Bremen was reported to be fully seaworthy. Even the weather in the probable loss area was not aproblem. The Sea Officer concluded that there was nothing to indicate that the loss occurred due to enemy action, technical failure, or human error. The Bremen simply vanished.
    The lengthy period of secrecy about the boat’s loss was for two reasons. During the early days, the Government did not want to further distress the families by releasing unconfirmed information. As time dragged on, the Government withheld the information because doing so would have taken the shine off the Deutschland’s accomplishment. It was important that the public continue to have hope that the projected fleet of cargo U-boats would break the blockade. In 1916 the food situation in Germany was already sever and growing worse. There was also the need to maintain faith in the ability of the U-boats to win the war.
    From a commercial point of view, it was important that the American businesses with which the Ozean-Rhederei was trading should remain optimistic. Even more so was the need to maintain confidence among the American insurers of U-boat cargoes. The idea of a fleet of cargo U-boats was not a patriotic undertaking but was solidly grounded as a business venture, and it was vital that there be no lack of confidence in the ability of the boats to deliver their cargoes.
    While the Deutschland was in Baltimore, an outbreak of poliomyelitis occurred. Captain König assured the civic leaders that the Ozean-Rhederei would ship the needed medicine immediately. That would have worked easily since the Bremen had just then left the Bremen Free Port en route to America with the medicine among her cargo. Captain König knew the Bremen’s travel plan and estimated arrival time, so he was confident that his promise would be kept. The Bremen’s movements were a closely guarded secret in order to not alert the Royal Navy that she was at sea. Then on 12 July 1916, König was shocked to read in the Baltimore paper that the Bremen was already underway.

    The Bremen had been loaded under heavy security and the American agents in the United States had been told to say nothing about the boat’s movements or estimated arrival. In Bremen agents put out disinformation about the boat, saying that her sailing was delayed due to technical problems. Obviously all those security measures were of no use because the boat’s probable arrival date was already known in the United States. The source of the security breach was never discovered.
    Under cover of darkness the Bremen departed with Weser pilot aboard and at the Weser Lightship the sea pilot came aboard. From the lightship a torpedo boat escorted the Bremen into the North Sea picket-boat line. There the escort turned back and the Bremen headed into the North Sea en route to New London, Connecticut. It was the last that anyone ever saw of her. The last signs of life from the Bremen were a radio message that she had passed the North sea picket line, and later that she was nearing the Orkney Islands--ahead of her was the blockade line. Nothing further was ever heard.

    This is from: Hartmut Schwerdtfeger und Erik Herlyn, Die Handels-U-Boote Deutschland und Bremen, Bremen: Kurze-Schönholz und Ziesener Verlag, 1997.

    I would like to thank you again for the translation. Even though we needed only a few sentences, I included it all because it was so informative. We may be able to figure out several things from this piece of information. The last couple sentences give us what we are looking for in general location. I am assuming that the Bremen was checking in daily and giving its position report via short wave radio. If somebody out there had the ability to check either the British or the German records we might just get coordinates, but I'm not holding my breath.

    1. What should be easier for us to figure out is on that day what were the coordinates of the North Sea picket line and the coordinates of the blockade line?

    2. The next thing is did the Bremen go north or south of the Orkney Islands? My guess is she took the same route as the U-Deutschland. If we knew the route of the Deutschland we can easily plot a course through the Orkney Islands to its port in the United States. This is the Bremen's most likely route. Now the search area just got much smaller.

    3. What was the position of the British minefields around the Orkney Islands at this time? The British mines at this time are junk and they tended to break their morning and drift the way. The Bremen could've strayed into a minefield or got hit by one of the drifting mines. (As a quick side note I just want to point out that a German World War I mine washed up on the shores of New Zealand two years ago at Christmas.) The U-boat could have also sunk due to mechanical problems, but once again, it would most likely have done so somewhere along this line.

    4. What was the range of the U-Bremen's radio? How far out was the U-Deutschland where it was still able to broadcast home?

    As you can see I have more questions than answers. However, if we could start filling in some of the blanks we might be able to get a little closer to finding its possible location. Any help from individuals or groups out in the cloud would be greatly appreciated.


  4. #224

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Possibility #2: Did the Alsatian and the Mantua Sink the U-Bremen.

    In the book The German Submarine War 1914-1918 by R.H Gibson and Maurice Prendergast page 103:

    “A sister boat, Bremen (Captain Schwartzkopf), left for Norfolk, Virginia, but she never reached her destination. Speculation still surrounds her fate. A submarine, believed to have been the Bremen, was seen 300 miles south of Iceland, holding a course that would bring her to Baltimore. The big armed merchant cruisers of the 10th Cruiser Squadron were spread to intercept the blockade-runner; and of these, both the Alsatian (flagship) and the Mantua rammed some heavy, submerged object.”

    1. First off, do the dates the Bremen was at sea correspond to the ramming?

    2. What were the coordinates of the encounter? Was this a point on the Bremen’s course?

    3. What was written in the two ships logs concerning the encounter?

    4. What type of damage was done to the ships?

    5. How the heck did these two ships sneak up on any U-boat?

    Any help from individuals or groups out in the cloud would be greatly appreciated.


  5. #225

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Possibility #3: The Bremen was sunk by British submarine G13 with a torpedo.


    In the book The Underwater War, Submarines 1914-1918 by Edwyn Gray pages 218-219 state:

    “Although never officially confirmed, Bradshaw also attacked in damage the giant submarine Bremen which, with Deutschland, acted as underwater freighters scuttling between New York and Germany. G.13 cited the U-boat at long-range and her first two torpedoes, fired from bow- tubes, missed. Bradshaw swung around the submarine and fired his starboard beam-tube and, when this also failed to score, came around in a complete circle to aim a pot- shot from his port- beam tube.
    But this to, missed the target, and with Bremen rapidly vanishing into the distance, Bradshaw played his last card. Bringing G.13 end-on to the U-boat he released his last torpedo from the stern-tube. The range was 7000 yards and any chance of success seemed impossibly remote, even assuming the torpedo would have traveled that far under its own power. But the law of averages swung his way and in the distance he heard the sound of an underwater explosion.

    The Admiralty, however, was not convinced and refused to credit G.13's Capt. with a positive sinking. It was only after the war that Bradshaw's claim was vindicated. The Bremen had been struck by the torpedo but she did not actually sink. Despite serious damage her crew succeeded in getting her back to Germany for repairs and she was still afloat in 1918, converted to a surface vessel.”

    Yes, we all know the U-Bremen never made it back to Germany; however, this may be a very creditable possibility about the attack.

    1. If we could get a look at the log for the G.13 during this time it would be interesting to see what it says about the incident. I always wanted to go to Britain to check into this but just have not got around to it. If there is anyone out there who is up for the task please let me know.

    2. Bradshaw fired five very expensive torpedoes at something the admiralty surely must have looked into it. If it was not the Bremen that was hit could it have been another U-boat or British submarine he hit? If any such boats were reported missing and were patrolling the general area at the time it may be another clue.

    3. The other things we need to know are when exactly did this happen and where?

    I have spent the time coming up with the questions, but all of the answers I need are on the other side of the Atlantic. As we start to get some answers I am sure more questions will pop up.


  6. #226

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Possibility #4: They just stole the U-Bremen.


    There is always a chance, all be it a small I grant you, that the captain and crew decided to steal the U-Bremen and sell the cargo on the black market. I just cannot believe a whole boat load of men would agree to give up their families and friends to live in a foreign land. The logistics would be too overwhelming to put together in a short period of time as they had available.

    However, it is in the realm of possibility and I did need to mention it.


  7. #227

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    O.K folks these are my four scenarios of what could have happened to U-Bremen that need to be fortified or shot down have at it, and have fun.


  8. #228

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Steve: Bradshaw in G-13 torpedoed the UC-43 on 10 March 1917 12 miles north of the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse. The position was given as 60-57N 1-11W. The British Prize Court paid Bradshaw and his crew the standard bounty for the sinking. The attack and sinking was witnessed by UC-76. The UC-43 was homeward bound by the northern route. Dwight

  9. #229

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model


    The sinking of the UC-43 was seven months after the U-Bremen set sail. The United States was at war with Germany. There is no way the Bremen would have been doing a cargo run to the States at this time. I would say the attack G-13 made would have to have been between August 26, 1916 (when the Bremen sailed) and the end of September, no later. That is why I need a look at the log of G-13 for August-September 1916. If you are sure that the attack on UC-43 was originally thought to have been an attack on the Bremen by Bradshaw and have seen proof, than my scenario in this case is a dead end. Sorry to put the screws to you Dwight, but this time we’re playing for keeps. <Wink>

    Very respectfully yours,


  10. #230

    Default Re: Cargo Submarine U-Deutschland Artifacts and Model

    Quote by Steve Zuke View Post
    Possibility #3: The Bremen

    1. If we could get a look at the log for the G.13 during this time it would be interesting to see what it says about the incident. I always wanted to go to Britain to check into this but just have not got around to it. If there is anyone out there who is up for the task please let me know...

    ... all of the answers I need are on the other side of the Atlantic. As we start to get some answers I am sure more questions will pop up. Steve
    I may have what could turn out to be a novel idea!!!!

    Have you forgotten our forum administrator Adrian Stevenson? Ade lives in South Derbyshire and therefore not far from Pemberley where Jane Austin's Darcy originated. We might inquire if Adrian would favour us by asking Darcy's descendants to underwrite the entire project. See, there's an answer to one of your pop-up questions. We all knew a solution would surface and air itself if we only opened our bulkhead flappers and recirculated.

    Adrian? Do you have us in your cross-hairs?

    Last edited by STBaltimore; 03-20-2012 at 01:10 AM.

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