With champagne glasses raised, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Captain Edward Beach, and others present joined in a toast: “Captain Lindemann and his brave crew!” The tribute, delivered 37 years ago at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Officer’s Club, was to former foes—the commander, officers, and men of the German battleship Bismarck—one of whom was the guest of honor that evening, Burkard Baron von Müllenheim-Rechberg.
The toast deeply touched Müllenheim. His book—Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor’s Story—was nearing publication by the Naval Institute Press. As a lieutenant commander, the baron had been the senior-ranking officer to escape the Bismarck’s sinking on 27 May 1941, and his recollections of service on board her quickly became a World War II classic.