- Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock
Infobox Military Person
Weimar Republic(to 1933)
commands=U-8, 1939-10-14 – 1939-11-30
U-5, 1939-12-05 – 1940-08-11
U-96, 1940-09-14 – 1942-04-01
9. Unterseebootsflottille Commander, 1942-04-01 – 1944-09-02
U-256, 1944-09-02 – 1944-10-18
11. Unterseebootsflottille Commander, 1944-12 – 1945-05
7. Unterseebootsflottille 9. Unterseebootsflottille 11. Unterseebootsflottille
awards=Iron Cross 1st Class
U-boat War Badge
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves
laterwork=Captain in the merchantfleet
CommanderHeinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock ( December 11 1911– April 18 1986) was a German naval officer, and a submarinecommander during World War II. He was among the top ten Aces of the Deepduring the Second Battle of the Atlanticagainst the Allies, in terms of tonnage of merchant ships sunk. He commanded four subs, most notable and successful of which was his tour commanding the U-96, a Type VII U-boat, which gained large recognition when one of its patrols was documented and publicized by an accompanying war correspondent Lothar-Günther Buchheim. It eventually would be made into a mini-series and film called " Das Boot", where he was portrayed by Jürgen Prochnow.
Bremen, Willenbrock joined the Reichsmarinein April 1931, with the rank of Seekadett, serving on a light cruiser and a sailing school ship before he transferred to the U-Boat Flotillain April 1939, five months before World War IIbegan. Upon serving as an executive officeron U-8, he was promoted to Kapitänleutnantand took command of U-5 in December 1939. Both U-8 and U-5 were of the Type II Class. His first patrol, which lasted fifteen days, was along the coast of Norwayduring Operation Hartmut, the u-boat operation in support of the invasion of Norway. No ships were sunk.
Upon the return of U-5, Willenbrock was transferred to the newly commissioned U-96, a Type VIIC u-boat whose crew underwent a three-month training period before being put onto active duty. After three patrols under Willenbrock's command, U-96 had sunk 125,580 tons of enemy shipping. The third patrol alone resulted in seven ships sunk, for 49,490 tons. The seventh patrol was the approximate time that
Lothar-Günther Buchheimboarded U-96 and documented the boat's successes in his book Das Boot. Willenbrock earned all of his medalsduring his patrols with U-96.
Willenbrock left U-96 in March 1942 to be promoted to
Korvettenkapitänand appointed "Flottillenchef" of the 9. Unterseebootsflottille, stationed in Brest. On September 2, 1944 he assumed command of U-256 and escaped the besieged Brest just a few days before the towns surrender. He reached Bergen, Norwayon October 23. In Bergen he was appointed "Flottillenchef" of the 11. Unterseebootsflottillein December, and held the position until the German surrender in Norway on 9 May 1945.
After a year in captivity, Willenbrock returned to
Germanyin May 1946, salvaging ships in the Rhine river. In 1948, he left Germanyaboard his ship, Magellan, with three of his friends to Buenos Aires. After returning to Germany, he served as captain on several merchantmen, and was appointed captain of the German freighter "Otto Hahn", the first of only four civilian nuclear ships. Buchheim's book "Der Abschied" (~"The Goodbye") describes one of its voyages, which Buchheim joined as a passenger.
He was decorated in 1974 with the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande (Federal Merit Cross on Ribbon). In 1982, Willenbrock accompanied
Wolfgang Petersenand the Das Bootcast and crew as an advisor to the film. Afterwards, he returned to his home at Bremen, where he remained until his death.
During his patrols with U-96, Willenbrock was awarded with the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Iron Cross 1st Class, the
U-Boat War Badge, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, and the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves for his achievements. He sank 24 ships for GRT|170,237|metric|first=yes, damaged two ships for GRT|15,864|metric and damaged one ship as a total loss for GRT|8,888|metric.
*cite web | title= Uboat.net| work= The Men – Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock| url=http://uboat.net/men/willenbrock.htm| accessdate=17 February| accessyear=2007
SHORT DESCRIPTION=German World War II U-boat captain
DATE OF BIRTH=11 December 1911
PLACE OF BIRTH=Bremen
DATE OF DEATH=18 April 1986
PLACE OF DEATH=Bremen
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