During World War II, the German U-boats posed a massive threat to Allied ships. The U-boats were lethal, stealthy submarines that could sink any vessel within range. Among the many U-boat captains, one name stands out as the deadliest of them all – Otto Kretschmer.
Otto Kretschmer was born in 1912 in Heidau, Germany. After completing his training in the German Navy, he joined the U-boat force in 1936. Kretschmer became a full-time U-boat captain in 1940 when he took command of U-99.
Kretschmer’s tactics were simple but effective. He would stalk his prey, slow down, and then attack from close range. He would often use just one torpedo and aim for the ship’s engines or munitions, causing catastrophic damage.
Between September 1939 and March 1941, Kretschmer sank 47 Allied ships, totaling over 276,000 tons. This made him the highest-scoring U-boat captain of the war. He was so successful that the British dubbed him the “Sea Wolf.”
However, Kretschmer’s luck ran out in March 1941 when his U-boat was attacked by Allied forces. After being forced to surface, Kretschmer and his crew abandoned ship and were taken prisoner.
Despite his impressive record, Kretschmer was not a ruthless captain. He would often allow the crew of the ships he sank to board lifeboats and survive. He once even sent a message to a British captain to let him know the location of the lifeboats of his sunken ship, so that they could be rescued.
After being freed from captivity at the end of the war, Kretschmer became a successful businessman and even visited the United States in the 1970s, where he was amazed by the generosity of the American people.
Otto Kretschmer was the deadliest U-boat captain of World War II, sinking 47 Allied ships with a total tonnage of over 276,000 tons. Despite his impressive record, Kretschmer was not an evil or ruthless captain and often let the crews of the ships he sank survive. For his legacy, he will always be remembered as one of the most efficient and successful German submarine commanders of all time.