Otto Kretschmer

The Life of Germany's Highest Scoring U-boat Commander
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Published:May 15, 2018

Otto Kretschmer was only in combat from September 1939 until March 1941 but was Germany's highest-scoring U-boat commander, sinking 47 ships totaling 274,333 tons. This definitive work details his personal story and the political backdrop from his earliest days.

After completing his officer training and time on the training ship Niobe he served aboard the light cruiser Emden. In December 1934, he was transferred to the light cruiser Köln, then in January 1936 made the move to the fledgling U-boat service. His first operational posting was to the 2nd U-Flotilla’s Type VII U35 where he survived almost being drowned during training in the Baltic Sea. During the Spanish Civil War, Kretschmer was involved in several patrols as part of the international non-intervention force. 

He demonstrated a cool approach to combat: his mantra “one torpedo for one ship” proved that the best way for his boat to succeed against a convoy was to remain surfaced as much as possible, penetrating the convoy and using the boat’s high speed and small silhouette to avoid retaliation. 

His nickname “Silent Otto” referred to his ability to remain undetected and his reluctance to provide the regular radio reports required by Dönitz: he had guessed that the Allies had broken German codes. Alongside his military skill was a character that remained rooted in the traditions of the Prussian military. 

List Price: $39.95
Member Price: $31.96
Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1591146976
  • ISBN-13: 9781591146971
  • Product Dimensions: 6.14 X 9.22 in
  • Shipping Weight: 23.2 oz
  • “This volume reveals much about the operations and tactics of the U-boat campaign during the first eighteen months of the war. The copious illustrations illuminate a text that is sometimes complex but which is always clearly written and easy to follow, while the range of sources – from oral history, through printed works and manuscript material, to clips of film, radio, and television interviews downloaded from the Internet – that Paterson draws together is itself astounding. Whilst entertaining for the general reader, this book will be a source of reference for those seeking information on vessels lost to U-boat attacks, the technicalities of operating a U-boat, or other aspects of the war at sea between 1939 and 1941.” —Australian Naval Institute
  • "Otto Kretschmer is a revealing look at the career of a consummately professional naval officer. For those interested in the Battle of the Atlantic it should not be missed." —The Daily News
  • “[Otto Kretschmer’s] life is very well described in this excellent book which is replete with maps, diagrams, photographs, and even a very good and helpful glossary. An excellent and important contribution to naval history.” —Work Boat World

Lawrence Paterson has written several books on various aspects of the U-boat war, including Dönitz's Last Gamble and Hitler's Grey Wolves. He lives in London.

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